When we started our children’s program, I was enthusiastic about it. Other people in our body were willing to help, but they did not share my same level of enthusiasm. I spent nearly a year in children’s church every Sunday just trying to keep it going. My enthusiasm quickly waned and it became a struggle for me, for the kids, and for our volunteers.
A couple people in the body had expressed an interest in children, but not so much in the program as it currently was running. I gathered them together and we decided to start from scratch. Here are some “tips” I can pull together as to why it has continued so well for the past 6 months or so:
1. Niki & I got excited about kids’ ministry again. It became more than just a “we gotta do this” and became a passion for us. The heart of the volunteers will follow the heart of the pastors.
2. We started over. In being willing to scrap “my program” and the “way I do things,” we were able to build up the kids program the way the team saw it – not just the way I saw it. This led to better ideas, more creativity, and “buy in” from the people who would be partnering in serving in this ministry.
3. We educated ourselves. We read George Barna’s Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions and Becky Fisher’s Redefining Children’s Ministry. Both were inspiring and confirmed a lot of what we already felt led to do.
4. We spent several months developing a strategic plan. This ensured we were all on the same page and catalyzed us to turn concept into action.
5. We found a curriculum that worked for us – kids on the move. It has helped to guide and direct our efforts. Caution to the ministry team, though – we are currently fighting trusting too much in the curriculum and not taking more of the kids’ program to God in prayer.
6. We “went all out.” With the pastor’s support, we were able to buy the stuff we needed – including the mascot outfit. These things send a message – to the kids, the parents, the non-parents, and the ministry team: We value kids.
7. We got people involved by delegating activities, inviting them to participate, and letting them have ownership. Soliciting advice, letting them run a meeting, letting them make a decision about a “goal” in the strategic plan – these were ways that we gradually raised up people in leadership.
8. One of the hardest things for me to do was to let go — to proactively release things to our children’s ministry director as he became more and more open to taking on leadership.
9. Keeping people excited – two ideas are 1) to continue to remind people why we’re doing this — our shared values, mission, purpose, and 2) to talk to one another about the exciting things God is doing in our lives and the lives of the kids.
10. As we grow, we intend to develop a youth group for kids in 7th grade and above. It’s called Youth Speaks. We have three people who are just WAITING to start this group. It would meet separately from Sunday service, though. One of our values is to train and equip kids for ministry. To that end, older kids (above 6th grade) would be in main service where they can learn like adults. They also will have opportunities to teach and serve in Kingdom Kids.
11. The children’s ministry team meets at least once a month, sometimes a couple more times with meetings on certain issues after church. The team leaders meet during the week to prep the lesson for Sunday. We have 5 people on the team who can lead on a Sunday (soon it will be 7). Two of these people, plus two other volunteers, lead the kids on Sunday. Our children’s ministry Director & his wife handle the admin for the meetings — when they are, what the agenda is, etc. I used to do this, but this is one of those things that gradually shifted to them. They’re doing a much better job with it. : D
Kids’ ministry is so near and dear to my heart, but I also admit that I don’t have much experience with this. After more than 2 years, only 6 months of it has been going really well. : D