3 Key Essentials for Kids Ministry
by Michelle Garland
Michelle Garland currently serves as the North Texas District Kids Director. Before relocating to the Dallas area, she previously served in Kids/Family Ministry for over 12 years in AZ. Michelle’s passionate about the next generation, and about equipping, challenging, and growing the leaders called to serve them.
When considering Kids Ministry - often times people just think of, “what can we do with the kids so the adults can have their service.” However, it is SO MUCH more than that. It is so much more than childcare - don't even get me started on that - that is an article for another day! Kids Ministry, if done effectively, can be the growth mechanism of the church! I tell people all the time, “Parents will put up with a lot, if their kids are loving church, growing spiritually, learning about God, and begging their parents to go back to church.” And it’s so true! But, it's not a given - not all churches are created equal here. There are definitely some things that need to be considered.
So how do you create a Kids Ministry that leaves kids begging their parents to bring them back?
1. Evaluate your environment.
First impressions are huge. We have all heard the studies that state that we have 3 minutes to make a positive first impression on a first-time family when they walk onto the church campus. 3 minutes. This could be the parking lot, the signage, the greeters, or a number of things. This also means, for families with kids; this could largely be up to your kid’s area and kids team. Parents might not even make it into the adult auditorium before they make their first impression - so it's incredibly important to use this time effectively.
Evaluate your environment. From the top to the bottom. Is your environment making a good first impression? Is it clean or cluttered? Does it smell good or like dirty diapers? Are your volunteers smiling and excited to help or do they act burdened when a new family arrives at the scene?
Do kids look around and say "wow"? This doesn't have to mean huge play structure (Not everyone has the resources for that.) - it can just be clean, kid friendly space that looks fun and inviting. A small amount of money spent here can make a kid excited about church, instead of dread it. Parents should feel like their kids are a priority for your church when they see your kids space.
2. Evaluate your delivery.
Kids learn in engaging, fun, positive, and upbeat environments. Inside of that there are also some key things that they need to learn.
1. How to worship - is your kids praise and worship creating an environment where they can have a personal experience with their Creator? Is it fun, exciting, and powerful? Is it relevant or are you singing the songs that you grew up singing years ago?
2. How to love and learn the Word - are you teaching them the Bible and how to use it on their own? The message is sacred, although there are many effective methods. Are you teaching them to have fun in God's word? Are you playing a game or doing an object lesson that ties in what they're learning? Or is your kids leader reading the lesson in a monotone voice?
3. How to hear the voice of God - adults are not the only ones that should hear from God directly. Kids should, too! Are you creating an atmosphere where this is encouraged, taught, and celebrated? The same Holy Spirit that is available for you and me is available for them as children - there is no junior version.
3. Evaluate your follow up.
What do you do for kids that visit you for the first time? Do they feel welcome when they walk in or do they wander by themselves because they don't know anyone. Do they hear from you after they leave your building? Kids love to feel wanted and valued. Do you take the time to invest in them once they are gone?
Some great practical ways to accomplish this: send a postcard in the mail (Kids love mail!), show up at a sporting event to support them (this will not only surprise the child - but the parents, too), show up for lunch at their school (and bring a pizza for them and all their friends.) When you value a child, you show you value the entire family. When you show love to a child, the entire family feels invited and like there is a place for them, too.
Kids ministry, if equipped with the right resources, can be a game changer for the growth of your church. Don't underestimate the impact you can make on the entire community, if you impact just one child. One child can change their neighborhood, their school, their community, and their world.