Oct 20, 2021

Is Your Children's Ministry Attendance Declining? What To Do About It.

I am in dozens of churches each year.  One thing has stood out to me for the past two years or so.  

Many children's ministries' are in decline.  This is primarily due to the effects of Covid19.  But even before Covid, many ministries were already in decline.

A recent survey by the Hartford Institute found that 15,278 churches across the U.S. confirm this.  The number of people attending church is shrinking.

The survey also brought this to light.  Half of the countries' estimated 350,000 churches have 65 or fewer people in attendance.  This is compared to 2000, when the average church had an attendance level of 137 people.  That's a drop of more than half in attendance.

In contrast, non-Christian congregations such as Muslim, Baha'i and Jewish have grown in the last 5 years.

This shift is a reflection of our country's changing demographics.  Children are growing up and moving to urban areas rather than staying in the rural areas where they grew up.  

You can also see this when you look at megachurches.  Churches with 1,500 or more in attendance have been best able to avoid decline.  71% of large churches have actually grown over the past 5 years.

Here's the bottom line.  Most children's ministries are not growing.  Due to Covid and other related factors, children's ministries are struggling.  I was recently at a church that pre-covid averaged over 600 children in attendance each weekend.  The Sunday I was there, they had around 150 children in attendance. This story could be told many times over in churches across the country.

So what can you do?  How can you not only bounce back, but also grow and thrive in this new reality?

Here are some things you can do about it.

Keep your current kids and families connected.  Reach out by phone, email, text and zoom calls.  Live stream on Facebook.  Create a YouTube channel and use videos to communicate.  

Share your safety precautions with families.  Parents are obviously concerned about putting their children in an environment where exposure can happen.  Let them know the things you have implemented to keep children safe. 

Encourage your kids and families to invite people to come to church with them.  I have seen this happening in many churches.  They are having a good number of first-time guest families show up. This is primarily the result of people inviting their friends, neighbors, co-workers, team mates, etc.  For many unchurched families, the pandemic has been a wake-up call.

This is a great time to invite people to come to church.  They are afraid.  Lonely.  Uncertain.  Confused. You have the answer for this.  It's Jesus.  Introduce them to Him.

Be willing to try something new.  Be willing to change something that wasn't working before the pandemic.  One church I know about was still singing out of the old songbooks.  During Covid,  they had a good reason to remove the hymnbooks for safety measures. And the songbooks never returned as they transitioned people to singing the words off a screen up front.

Keep your focus outward.  Yes. Care for the kids and families in the ministry.  But it's also just as important to keep your focus on the kids and families outside of your ministry that don't know Jesus.  Lead kids and families in praying for those in your community that do not yet know Jesus.

Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray for laborers for the harvest.  Pray that God would draw those around you that need Jesus.  Pray for the Spirit of God to move throughout your community.  

Be the salt and the light.  What an incredible opportunity we have to bring hope during this time.  What an incredible opportunity we have to be the light in the darkness.

Rather than focusing on the number of people who are attending, keep your focus on those in your community who don't know Jesus.  That is the heart of Jesus.  And when you align with His great passion, you will see your ministry grow and reach people with the Gospel.

How is your church doing in the pandemic?  Growing?  Plateaued?  Declining?  What are some steps or strategies you are trying?  Share your ideas and insight in the comment section below.

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