This post will explore chapter 4 of Geoff Surratt’s book “10 Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing”. This chapter is about Children’s Ministry.
After I finish reviewing most of the chapters in this book, I may go back and give my feelings on youth ministry. However, this chapter deals with children’s ministry. Its an area that most churches are finally realizing they are not putting enough effort and money into. I know children pretty well. In fact, I am one class away from having an Elementary Education degree. My wife has a Child and Family Studies degree. I may not be an expert, but I do know a little something about children.
We have a Children’s Minister at our congregation here in West University Place. Christy works many hours a week preparing big events and service projects. However, she is only one person. I’m starting to realize that all ministry is much larger than any one person. For our Children’s Ministry at West U to be successful, it can’t be only Christy. She knows that, I know that, but sometimes parents don’t realize that. For a program to be successful, it needs to be supported by everyone.
Another thing I’ve learned is that in ministry, no single minister is good at everything. That’s why we equip other people to help and serve. Areas I may not be good at, you may excel at, and I need you to help me.
Children’s Ministry is more than:
– Sunday School
– Wednesday night class
– Children’s Worship or Bible hour during service
– Gathering all the kids and singing and playing games
Children’s Ministry is an area that affects the entire congregation. If a child is not happy, or not learning, the parent may pull that child out of the program, and go look for a place that will influence or teach their children better. Others will follow, and before you know it, you’re left with a small group of kids, but even worse, a whole lot of your volunteers are gone. When visitors with children come to your service, they will notice a lack of people in their children’s age range, but also in their own age group as well. Its a snowball effect that a church can hardly ever recover from.
One problem that I have noticed recently in Children’s Ministries across the board is that they are using the wrong curriculum. Some write their own that have no business doing so. Others use a curriculum that doesn’t fit their church. Some problems with that are that some curricula call for large groups for the class, acting out a skit or playing a big group game, and you’ve got Junior and Susie, and no one else in your classroom. This won’t work for that class.
I think we don’t give kids enough credit. Children are smart, and are sponges. They listen better than we think they do. We may think that children have to be entertained, but in reality, children are extremely flexible in their learning styles. As long as someone is prepared, children will listen. The problem arises when a teacher shows up at the last second without preparing. Children know when someone isn’t prepared, and they will take advantage of the situation.
If you come to kids with a plan of attack, and things to fill the entire hour of their time, they don’t have a chance to get distracted. There is no room for error when teaching Children. If you give them an inch they will take a mile. Teachers being prepared is the single most important thing.
But you also need to understand that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t focus too much on the big events and overlook the weekly activities and classes. Classes should be the bread and butter of any children’s ministry. At the same time, you can’t just put all your effort into classes and expect children to stay happy. They do need the big events such as VBS and festivals and parties, but don’t overdo it.
A strong, vibrant, and exciting children’s ministry will be an outreach tool on its own, because children will want to bring their friends with them to class, to events, to church, and anything else going on. With their friends come parents who may not belong to a church. Maybe a refreshment in your children’s ministry is what you need to start your church on a path to revival.