Don’t Blow Up Your Kid’s Ministry!

mushroom-cloud-67534_1920Not to scare you but your church might be close to disaster! And here is how it starts:

Someone says, “Bob hasn’t been in church very much;” or,  “Sally has not been real involved lately;” or, “Joe seems really detached over the last few months.”

Then a deacon pipes up, “How about the kids’ ministry!”

That’s right, many well-meaning church members think that the spiritually distant, the theologically misfit, and the untrustworthy Bible thumbers should all serve in the your church’s kids’ ministry. You just stick Bob, Sally, or Joe in that classroom and boom! There goes the church!

Now, at some level, I get it.  Changing diapers is a lot less influential than leading the worship team. When Bob the nursery worker gets peed on a by a screaming baby, he will not attract all that much attention. The baby and Bob maybe briefly traumatized, but church will be ok.

However, Bob the music leader who talks about how God is sometimes the Father and sometimes the Holy Spirit between songs just introduced the church to heresy. From the stage, Bob can all but destroy his local church. I get the power differential.

I understand that we don’t want unproven people leading up front. And, I understand that we need places for men and women to develop their spiritual gifts. I am all for people testing the gifts in their children’s ministry (with lots of supervision of course). I love seeing men and women grow in their teaching and organizational skills. I always want to encourage such growth. I want our kids’ ministry to be a part of our church’s greater discipleship strategy.

But at the same time, I recognize that children are not flowers, chairs, or bulletins. Children are far more valuable and precious than the day-to-day operational tasks of the church. (Matt 19:14; Psalm 127). They are also some of the most vulnerable and susceptible people in our congregation. Children often cannot voice their concerns fully. They struggle to tell us exactly why something sounds wrong. In addition, children will often be too embarrassed to discuss why their teacher made them uncomfortable.  As the people of God, we are charged with protecting our children and keeping them safe. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless (Jer. 7:5-7).

Sticking unproven and backsliding Christians in our nursery goes against the above scriptural mandates. After all, those backsliders may not even by Christians. And if they are unredeemed sinners, they will be prone to neglecting, misleading, and even abusing our children. If we invite struggling Christians to work with our children, we are inviting disaster into our very midst.

While we should want people to prove their calling within the walls of our children’s ministries, we should never want people to prove their character by working with our children. The risk of failure is too great and our children our too important!

Thankfully, God has given the modern church tasks such as setting up chairs, directing traffic, and making coffee expressly for this reason. In my humble opinion, no one needs prove his or her faith via their church’s children’s ministry.

Stand firm!

5 Habits That Kill Kids’ Ministries

kid toys freeI think its fair to say that every kids’ ministry needs more staff. And I don’t mean the creepy kind with no teeth and a criminal background. We need kid’s workers who love Jesus and who love kids, (even the screaming toddlers). And, I believe that God will provide all the laborers we need. The ministry and the mission is his!

But with that being said, we can still do things that undermine our kids ministry. Below are five deadly habits that regularly keep people serving and some tips for overcoming them.

  1. Poor Organization:

Nothing scares committed volunteers away faster than chaos. And we can’t blame people for avoiding a human zoo. No one would board a cruise ship whose final destination was the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. And no one is going to work with our kids if they think someone may die before the night is over.

Quick FIx:

Get organised. If we want people to work with our kids, we must empower them by creating schedules, using great curriculums, and enforcing discipline. We, the children’s leaders, must have a practical vision for our ministry that others can respond to.  Now vision will not  win everyone over on its own. But you can’t succeed without it.

  1. Lack of Vision:

Many adults think kids’ ministry exists as a holding cell for whinny, noisy, stinky kids. Many don’t serve because they don’t think kids’ ministry is a ministry. They view the kids’ wing as a swanky, religious nursery that frees adults to worship without anyone asking to go to the bathroom.

Quick Fix:kid anger free

Share our vision with our church through discussions, sermons, and training events. We need to help others see that kids’ ministries exist to strategically equip parents (and the entire church body) to declare the glory of God to the next generation! Sunday school, Wednesday night activities, and those wacky events happen because churches want to see everyone worshiping Christ together! Kids’ ministry is not just nursery, its intentional, hands-on mission and discipleship work! We need to get the word out! 

  1. A Selfish Mindset:

Those who’ve fallen into this category believe “Church is me time.” They don’t serve because God only called them to attend church. Because their life is crazy and/or hard, they think God has freed them from serving others, especially kids. Even if they have kids, this group knows that God called them to only attend Bible studies and concerts. 

Quick Fix:

First, We need to invite people to serve. Second, we explain the danger of not actively serving in church. Admittedly those who make Sunday their “adult time” or their “time away from the kids,” will have an easier day. But their day will also be far less biblical. We are called to put the needs of others before our own. (I.E. the church is not about you or me). We read in Philippians 2:2-4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

“Yes,” some will say, “but you have no idea what my kids are like or what I have to put up with on a regular basis.” A We don’t. And we need to be considerate of others struggles. But, we need to help all see that service is not based on feelings. We serve because the God of the universe put our needs before his own comfort. We want to be like him! Help others see that our earthly comfort is not more important than a child’s salvation and find a reasonable place for them to serve. 

  1. A Quitter’s Mentality:

These adults say things like, “I did my time and my kids are grown.” In short, they’ve tapped out and have done their time.

Quick Fix:

We need to encourage people to refresh and to follow God’s call on their life. Many people exit kids’ ministry for great reasons. We should support God’s work in their life!

But we should pursue those who leave the kids’ program to retire from ministry all together. We need to remind quitters that God doesn’t put a time limit or a quota on serving the next generation. God’s missional call to reach kids involves all of his church. Ands, kids need older adults to teach them. The energy of young singles and new marrieds cannot compare to the wisdom possessed by older believers. If we want to see our kids greatly influenced for Christ, we need to expose them to the Godliest men and women in our church. And not surprisingly, most kids actually want to hang with wiser men and women!

  1. Lack of Communication:

There are people in our churches who are sitting out because they’ve never been asked to help. These adults never interacted our kids’ zone because they are single or empty nesters. They are open to serving. But they’ve never connected with a kids’ ministry worker or leader. They may have heard that their kids’ ministry needs help, but they don’t know where to begin.

Quick Fix

The solution is for somebody to directly ask them. As kid’s ministry people, we need to make an effort to interact with the whole body, inviting health believers from all walks of life to be part of our kids’ ministry.

Now its your turn! What struggles does your kids’ ministry face when it comes time to recruit?

Kids’ Ministry Changes Everything!

free kidMost every church says it values kids. And, we should want our churches to have this perspective! Jesus loves children and our heavenly father says children are a blessing direct from him. Kids are also the group most receptive to the gospel. Most Christians embrace Christ by age 13. As the great preacher Charles Spurgeon observed,

He who receives things simply, as a child, will often have ideas which the man who is prone to use deductive reasoning could never discover.

Christians, who want to have greatest possible influence upon the world, must “consider employing those resources in ministry to young people (Barna 2003, 19).”

The Great Disconnect

Sadly, many churches don’t actually invest money into their kids’ zones. On average, most churches spend somewhere around 3% of their budget on caring for kids. As one pastor concluded,

Many Christians today assume they value children, but in practice often treat their kids like the disciples did (Reju 2014, 13). 

Because they grew up in impoverished and understaffed kids programs, today’s adults are often content to let their kids use free babythose great flannel graphs located in the back room. Then, the adults run  over to Walmart to get a new coffee pot for the fellowship hall.  Not surprisingly, kids and young families feel unwelcomed in many churches who say the opposite.

Thankfully, this has not been my direct experience. I have been blessed to be a part of churches that recognize the biblical value of kids and invest heavily in reaching the next generation. Currently, I serve at a church with by far one of the best children’s facilities around. But as important as financial gifts and facilities are, they are not the sum total of what it means to biblically welcome kids.

Getting Reconnected 

We actually have to be present with our kids. When Jesus welcomed the little children, he was physically with them, caring for them. He was their savior.

To welcome kids, we too have to be with them. After we create a welcoming space for our kids, we need to fill the space. We have to be ready to hold crying babies, to chase wiggly toddlers and to teach bubbly grader schoolers. And I get that this is not always easy. At times, babies are stinky, preschoolers are messy, and grade schoolers are easily distracted. But our efforts are absolutely necessary.

Kids have to hear the word of God to be saved. And when we take the time to lead a Sunday school class, God uses our lessons and wacky crafts to save the lost! I truly believe God uses Sunday school teachers and nursery volunteers to save and disciple numerous future pastors and missionaries. Though we may have to wait 20 or even 30 years before we see all that God is doing, we now he is moving; our labor is not in vain! Today, I invite all my readers to join with Jesus and invest in the next generation. Get involved in kids ministry and start changing the world!

May God send to his people a more firm belief that little buds of grace are worthy of all of our care. – Charles Spurgeon

Works Cited

Barna, George. Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority . Ventura : Regal , 2003.

Reju, Deepak. On Guard: Preventing ad Responding to Child Abuse at Church. Greensboro: New Growth Press , 2014.