This last weekend, I had the opportunity to stand in front of key stakeholders in my ministry and talk about the vision of the Children’s Ministry, and their role in it. As I cast vision and shared my heart, I began to think about Children’s Ministry as a whole, and came up with these things that a good children’s ministry ought to be doing.
1) Give kids a chance to encounter God on a weekly basis. Church is not solely an academic activity. Many times, especially in children’s ministry, we get too caught up in learning and forget about the spiritual side. Truth: Kids can, desire to and do approach the throne of God and have a genuine encounter with Him. I’ve seen kids get filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesy over adults. I’ve seen kids encounter God in such a way that not only are they changed, but their families are changed as well. Children must be given a chance to encounter God in real ways.
2) Partner with Parents. Even if kids are involved in everything the church has to offer, they are spending at most 6 hours (that might be pushing it) in church activities in the average week. If we were to add to that the roughly 49 hours a week (168 total hours in a week minus 40 hours for school, 70 hours for sleep, church time and extra curricular activities) then we can see effective life change in a child’s life. The kids that are most successful in any arena of life have parental involvement.
3) Partner with other ministries in the church. The best partnership for the children’s ministry is the youth ministry. Children’s Pastors must work together with youth pastors to find out what the next stage of church life is like for kids, and what the youth pastor expects incoming kids to be like, then work to make sure the kids are ready for that stage of life. Adult ministries are a great partnership as well. Many parents out there need or want tools to make them better parents, and expect the church to help them gain those tools. Children’s ministry may not be able to provide those tools, but they can help other ministries of the church see what tools are missing. Partnership with other ministries exponentially increases the possible impact of Children’s ministry on a child’s life.
4) Lead with the end in mind. Establish clear goals concerning what the kids should be like as they move onto the next stage of life, and work from day one to reach those goals. What should a typical 5th or 6th grade student know? What experiences should they have? What does their devotional life look like? These are some of the things I ask myself on a regular basis, and structure my ministry so that the 5th grade students have the tools they need to be successful not only in this stage of life, but in the next as well.
5) Develop leaders. Children’s Pastors (no matter how skilled/loving/passionate or good with kids) are not able to connect with every child in their ministry. It is only through volunteers and leaders that they are able to connect with more kids. Raising leaders is a difficult job, but necessary for the sake of ministry. There are so many areas of children’s ministry that the Children’s Pastor cannot manage them all. This is where it is vital to raise other leaders to take care of the things that the Children’s Pastor cannot do. Raising leaders who are equally passionate about the vision of the children’s ministry spreads the influence wider than a single leader can do on their own.
6) Definition of success. “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time” -Zig Ziglar. Children’s Ministry must define success in a child’s life. Different ministries will have a different outcome they are striving for. In my Children’s Ministry, success is “seeing kids growing up serving God their whole lives.” As long as the children in my ministry both past and present are serving God, we are succeeding. When they are not serving God, we are not succeeding. Without a definition of success, how can you know you are being effective?
These are all things that I feel God is putting on my heart are essential for success in Children’s Ministry. They are things that you will begin to see at Northwest Kids, if you do not already. As they are being put into place, I pray that God blesses us and the ministry grows as He sees fit.