Three Guidelines for a Healthy Children’s Church Ministry
What does a healthy children’s Church ministry look like? Is there a happy medium between dry lectures and installing a carousel in the church sanctuary? How many carnivals and puppet shows are enough?
Children’s church ministry has changed over the past few decades, often from an old-fashioned story time with the preacher during worship, to a bloated slate of children’s church activities. What is the best way to minister to children today? How can a church body find its way toward a properly balanced children’s church ministry?
In our marketing-driven culture, it is easy to take off on attractive ideas that may or may not produce positive outcomes or even be related to the goals a church has set for ministry. One way to help your church stay on track with your children’s church ministry is to narrow your ministry focus. Don’t try to be all things to all people. A good way to find a proper focus in children’s ministry is to bear in mind the goal of all Christians, according to the scripture and the Westminster catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Every church must prayerfully consider what this means for children’s ministry. Churches must be careful to emphasize Bible teaching and discipleship efforts in order to obey Jesus’ command to feed his sheep. (He didn’t say, entertain my sheep, did he?) Here are three guidelines for balancing your children’s church ministry:
1. Include families
First, a healthy children’s church ministry is one where the children of the church are being spiritually nurtured, and where family involvement is encouraged.
As children’s ministers, we must remember that it is not our goal to replace the godly leadership in the home. It is the ultimate job of parents to disciple their children (Deuteronomy 6). The church should encourage and help parents in this effort.
Family involvement in the children’s ministry should be welcomed and encouraged. As parents, church staff and volunteers invest in the spiritual lives of children, spiritual growth will spill over from kids into their families. This creates a discipleship program that impacts more of the congregation.
For children that have no spiritual nurturing at home, children’s church ministry leaders should pray especially and find ways to reach out to their families.
2. Pray For Guidance
Second, a healthy children’s church ministry is guided by prayer and the Holy Spirit.
If you want a discipling, evangelizing, enriching children’s ministry, blanket it in prayer. Remember, you are just a little vine, and Jesus is the big branch. Pray personally with your staff and with the children about your ministry concerns: “Lord, is this new curriculum right for us? Is it honoring to you? Father, please call out some new children’s Sunday school teachers.” A children’s ministry guided and empowered by prayer will maintain the right focus.
3. Each Ministry is Unique
Thirdly, your children’s church ministry should be designed to fit within your unique situation. It should fulfill its purpose of feeding the lambs, and be relevant to the community your congregation serves.
A children’s church ministry in the middle of an inner city should never look the same as one out in the country. The children are different; their families are different. The congregations have different spiritual needs, budgets, and people power.
A small startup mission should never look longingly at a fully staffed, established children’s church ministry and try to support the same number of programs. Just because something was effective (under a different set of circumstances) at another church doesn’t mean it will be effective for you. Look instead at your church and the community around you to guide you in developing programs that meet needs and fit the demographics and lifestyles of your people.
God delights in working in all different kinds of situations. Let us each prayerfully consider our ministry to Jesus’ lambs and their families within the overarching goal of glorifying God and enjoying him forever. This is the pathway to a meaningful children’s church ministry.
Robin Khoury is a Children’s Leadership Specialist and the Founder and President of Little Light Press.