Quality vs. Quantity in Kid's Ministry

When I first started in children's ministry over 30 years ago, I was taught to start as many ministries as possible.  The philosophy was the more ministries you have, the more people you will reach.

And so I tried to start as many ministries as possible.

And to be honest with you...it didn't go so well.  I ended up stretching my budget, staff, volunteers and the children too thin.

I had a lot of ministries, programs and events, but none produced the kind of fruit I was praying for and working toward.

This caused me to take a hard look at what I was doing.  I came to realize that I could continue doing a lot of things mediocre or I could do a few things with excellence.

I am typing this on a Mac Book Pro laptop. And I use an iPad and iPhone as well. I am biased, but I love using Mac products.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Steve Jobs. He was the founder of Macintosh. He is a great example of what can happen when you focus on doing a few things well.

In 1998, Steve shrunk Apple’s products line from 350 to 10. So instead of creating 350 mediocre products, he focused on creating 10 incredible products. You see, the natural pull is toward complexity.  You have to be diligent if you want to do a few things well.  If you try to do too much you can end up with volunteers that are burned out, a budget that is spread thin and resources that aren’t adequate.  One of the best things you can put on your ministry calendar is eraser marks. Let’s talk about how you can keep your priorities simple and focused well.

Know when to say “yes” and when to say "no."

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on.  But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.
Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”
Steve Jobs

There will always be “knocks” on your door...people wanting to hear a “yes.”  The knock will come from a dad who has a great idea. The knock will come from a music group that is going to be coming through your area. The knock will come from a new family in the church who asks if you offer a popular ministry program. The knock will come from an idea a staff member has. The knock will come from a prominent family in the church who wants you to start a certain program. The knock will come from someone who wants to use your church facilities for a special event. The knock will come from someone who offers specialty classes for kids and wants to enter a business partnership. The knock will come from a conference you attend.

When opportunity knocks, you must decide if you want to open the door or not. And opening the door should depend on whether or not the knock lines up with your priorities and can help you achieve your vision.

There are a lot of good things you can do. But don’t do something just because it’s a “good thing.” What you are looking for and praying for is a God thing. Look at this scenario in the New Testament. It’s a great example of determining if something is a “good thing” or a “God thing.”

“Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the Word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.”
Acts 16:6-7

Was it a “good thing” for Paul to go and minister to the people in Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia? Of course. But it wasn’t a “God thing.” He had other plans for them. Check out the rest of the verses.

“That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’ So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.”
Acts 16:9-10

This time it was a “God thing.” See the difference? In your ministry, you will constantly be offered “good things” to do.  Programs, ideas, events, and initiatives will come your way in abundance. But just because it’s a “good thing” doesn’t mean it’s a “God thing” for your ministry.

How do you determine the difference between a good thing and a God thing? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
  • Will this help us fulfill the vision God has for our ministry?
  • Does this line up with our strategy and direction?
  • How will this impact the ministry as a whole?
  • Is this sustainable?
  • How will this impact resources and staff?
  • How will this impact other ministries?
  • Is this opportunity already offered at other churches in our area?
  • Is this a “niche” that God wants us to use? Is the
  • opportunity based on the personal interest of a few?
  • Am I willing to move something else off the plate to make this happen?
  • Will this bear fruit that remains?
  • Will this help us reach people who are lost or just bring in consumer church people from other churches?
  • How many volunteers will it take to make it happen?
  • Will it pull volunteers away from other key areas where they are already serving?
Saying “no” has just as much, if not more power than saying “yes.” Why? Saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to what is most important. It’s important to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. One of the best ways to know is to measure outcome, not activity. The ministry can be busy, but little to no fruit is seen. The ministry becomes like a merry-go-round with lots of noise and movement but no true progress.

Your turn.  What do you think about quality vs. quantity?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.