If you’ve led in children’s ministry for any amount of time, you’ve experienced it: a lack of excitement about what you are trying to accomplish with the kids in your ministry. Parents, other staff, even the lead pastor, just don’t seem to get it. It can be very frustrating and discouraging.
Before we address this challenge, we need to understand it. Here are a few observations from my own experience:
Why People Aren’t Excited About Your Children’s Ministry
They don’t know the vision of your Children’s Ministry
Excitement about Children’s Ministry begins with a true understanding that something significant is happening. That needs to be presented through a big vision. Do you have a clear and compelling vision for your ministry? Can you articulate it in a clear and compelling (and quick!) fashion? Have you equipped your team (staff, leaders, etc.) to articulate that vision at every opportunity?
Define your vision. Learn to present it in a clear and compelling manner. Equip those you serve with to do the same. Live out that vision in everything you do within the ministry.
They don’t know the impact Children’s Ministry can have on children
What group is the most receptive to the Gospel? Children (research shows that up to 85% of those who accept Christ will do so between ages 4 & 14).
Who are the most responsive to discipleship? Children (research shows that basic values are established by age 4 or 5, and that a person’s primary worldview is established by age 12 or 13).
What people group are the most impressionable yet least capable of discovering and discerning truth for themselves? Children.
Children are the group in your church and community that are, by far, the most highly impacted by the ministry of your church – for good or for bad.
They don’t understand that they can make a difference
If people don’t know the vision, or don’t understand the impact that can be had (or both), then they won’t understand how they can make a difference in your ministry and, ultimately, in the life of a child. Why would they be excited about Children’s Ministry in these circumstances?
When people know the vision and understand the impact, they get excited and begin looking for ways to be a part of what’s happening. This is where we, as ministry leaders, have to be ready to help them understand their role in making the impact. Instead of seeing Children’s Ministry as extremely difficult, they begin to see it as much simpler but, more important, impactful.
It might be as parents, so we equip them to invest in the lives of their children spiritually, both at home and in the church. It might be as volunteers directly connecting with the children – equip them to build relationships, teach and disciple children. It might be as part of the support team – help them know the opportunities and how they directly lead to impacting children.
We are never excited about what we don’t understand, and if we don’t understand the difference we can make in the life of a child, why would we be excited about Children’s Ministry?
They don’t see the excitement coming from you and your team
Let’s shift a little bit from focusing on “them” to focusing on “us”. As I’ve worked with churches across the country and around the world to help establish their Children’s & Family Ministry, I’ve often been astonished at the lack of excitement from the very people who are leading the ministry.
Do you show excitement for your ministry? Or are you running around on Sunday morning, frazzled and frustrated and letting everyone know about it?
Do you have a smile on your face? Are you gracious with the children you serve? Do you engage with parents in your ministry? Are you eager to answer questions and find solutions? Do you see what could be instead of what has been?
If you’re not excited about Children’s Ministry, why should anyone else be? If you see it as “childcare”, why wouldn’t anyone else see it as just that?
They don’t trust your Children’s Ministry
Children’s Ministry is not childcare, but caring for children is the starting point. Are children safe in your ministry? Physical safety is the starting point. The environments that we serve children within must be safe. The activities we lead must be safe. The policies we have (ie. bathroom policies) must create safety.
But we’re not just talking physical safety. How about emotionally? Is it a place where they are poured into by adults? Are they safe from bullying? If a child doesn’t feel loved and wanted, they won’t want to be part of your ministry, and parents quickly pick up on this from their children.
How about spiritually? That seems like an odd question, doesn’t it? But are they really being challenged by the teaching that happens in your ministry? Are they discovering truth for themselves? Are they expected to apply what is being taught to their daily lives – and accountable for it? Do you have a spiritual formation plan for your ministry? In other words, if a child participated in your ministry from birth through 6th grade (or whatever grade you transition them to youth ministry), what’s the plan?
And safety doesn’t just apply to the children. What about volunteers? Physical safety, yes, but more so, is there safety in being part of your ministry? Can they share their ideas? Can they express their opinion? Are they part of shaping the ministry? Can they serve without feeling like they’ve been given a life sentence?
If people don’t trust your ministry – which really comes to all aspects of believing it is safe – then they certainly won’t be excited about it.
So how safe is your Children’s Ministry?