I have been working in Kids’ Ministry for a number of years and I still have SOOOOO much to learn.
My biased (but correct!) opinion is that children’s ministry should be the most important ministry within the church (probably alongside taking care of the widows, hungry and sick).
You have to think beyond the ‘Sunday school’ model of Children’s ministry though. Children’s ministry should and needs to incorporate places for kids to gather together, connect with each other, learn more about their world, be cared for when their world is falling apart and figure out what role they have to play on God’s Team.
When it comes to Sunday mornings and the ‘traditional’ style of children’s ministry, what the church presents can not be the ‘leftovers’ of people’s time and money.
It is well know that if a child doesn’t accept Christ before they are in their late teens, they probably never will. Another drastic statistic is the ‘drop out’ of kids when they reach their early 20’s…it seems plain to me that what the church presents to kids has to be THE BEST of what the church has to offer.
Now when I say ‘the best’ I don’t mean, the greatest, most expensive, technology savvy hour of a child’s week. That is far to hard to compete with in the grand scheme of things. What has to stand out is the relationships that are fostered during that hour. The relationships have to go a number of ways.
Leading a child to know and understand God on a more intimate level is exciting to watch and witness.
Kids will most often be excited to come to church if their friends are there. Often we pack our hour with so many activities we can don’t leave time for friendships to develop and grow.
Being vulnerable and accessible as a leader/teacher/helper is so important. Just listening to the stories of a child, what they did during the week, the new shoes they have that can make them go super fast…these can mean the world to that child. Last night a leader shared with me how it wasn’t the stories that his Sunday School teacher taught him that he remembers…it is what the teacher said to him and how he made him feel that has stayed with him for 30 years! Imagine the impact you can have.
While looking for a church the most important aspect for us was the children’s ministry. If our child felt comfortable, loved and safe…we were happy. (Adley escaped from a creche at one church when he was 18mths without anyone even noticing…they still haven’t come looking for him! Needless to say, we haven’t returned there!)
Families will keep ‘church shopping’ if their kids don’t like what they experience, no matter how good the adult service is!
People can often get swept up in the difficulty of ‘teaching’ a large group of kids about God, and yes…this is really important (why else would you come to ‘school’ on a Sunday) but it can be refreshing for kids to know that you are still learning about God too, that you don’t have all the answers but you have faith that what God says is true and you enjoy learning more, getting to know God more and serving God.
Anyway…off my pedestal (for now) and back to praying about ways to connect our kids with God in a real relevant way for them and to figure out how to not seem desperate, but just passionate when asking people to make a difference in out kids lives for eternity.