Most people have a fear of changing even when things aren’t working. But it’s even harder to continue to tweak and change when everything’s going great. But if we want to stay cutting edge and effective, that’s what we need to do. Here’s some help when it comes to considering change.
Find Out What God Wants: Change just for the sake of change won’t work. We need to prayerfully consider each change. If God is behind it, go for it.
Find Changes To Address Problems: Every children’s ministry has problem areas. These are usually the areas that need to change.
Communicate Changes To Parents and Workers: Whenever you make a change, especially a big one, communicate why you’re making the change to those who will be affected. This will help you get others on board.
Face Your Fear Of Change: Sometimes it’s easier to keep things to way they are then to consider change. Change brings us into realms we haven’t been in before. There’s fear associated with it. If you’re not changing a program because the change isn’t wise that’s great. But if you let fear stop you from changing, face your fears. You can’t walk on water unless you get out of the boat.
We all have heard the stories of children’s ministries that remind us of the 1960’s. They use the same techniques they’ve used for the last fifty years: flannelgraphs, old children’s songs that have been around forever, and methods of organization that may have worked for years but no longer do. We all have the potential to become outdated if we don’t continue to learn, grow, and change with the times.
I have been a children’s pastor for twenty years and a children’s ministry consultant and revivalist for three years. One thing I’ve discovered is there’s always something new to learn, a new way of doing things, and new methods and resources out there. The minute I start believing I know what I’m doing and don’t reach out to learn more is the moment I start being ineffective.
There are many ways to keep ourselves sharp when it comes to children’s ministry. Here are a few:
Read Books: Reading is a great way to learn new things. But don’t limit yourself only to books on children’s ministry. Books on leadership, project management, Christian growth, and child developement and parenting are also helpful to Children’s pastors.
Keep Up With The Times: This is easier to do if you have children in school. If not, find out what the newest crazes and fads are. Talk to children about their interests outside of God. Buy secular children’s magazines and watch their TV shows and movies.
Go to Children’s Ministry and Leadership Conferences: There’s nothing like a children’s ministry or leadership conference to help you learn new things. It’s well worth the investment.
Network With Children’s Pastors:Nobody knows everything. Meet with other children’s pastors on a regular basis. Join Children’s Ministry Connect and other online children’s ministry networks. Listen and learn from other experts.
Discipling is a key factor in a thriving children’s ministry. Unfortunately it’s one that’s not done effectively by many. Discipleship is more than teaching or training. Discipleship invites the person being discipled to come along and learn from the discipler while doing ministry. Here are some people you need to develop a discipleship program for.
Children: Children need to be discipled. But in most ministries children are only taught and not discipled. Jesus discipled by spending time with His disciples, using teachable moments, and allowing His disciples to minister with Him. Most children’s pastors do well with the teaching, some spend time with children, but how many spend time ministering with children? Children should be a part of every aspect of ministry. They should be mentoring and learning alongside the adult mentors in their lives. This link has an article to help you disciple the students in your ministry.
Workers:Workers need training, but the best workers don’t come out of a training program. The best children’s ministry workers are those who have been mentored and discipled by someone. They are the ones that have benefitted from working alongside their mentors, from spending time with their mentors, and from having the a accountability that goes along with a relationship. Are you mentoring your workers or just training them.
Parents: Parents are the most important mentors of their children, yet many don’t understand how to mentor their children. We as children’s pastors should put the resources in their hands to help them mentor and disciple their children.
A thriving children’s ministry usually has balanced all of the most important aspects of ministry. Here’s some areas that need to be in every children’s ministry.
Evangelism: A children’s ministry that has stopped reaching out to unsaved children and only ministers to children of the church family is out of balance. The Great Commission commands us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. That’s even more important when it comes to children. 85% of all Christians were saved before the age of 14. Some of those Christians were reached by churches and children’s ministries, not by their parents. I know because I’m one of them.
Discipleship:Discipleship goes beyond teaching children the Word of God. It gives children the mentoring and skill needed to live a Christian life. It teaches children that a relationship with Christ, obedience to Christ, and service to Christ will give their lives meaning and purpose.
Compassion: Compassion should be a part of every children’s ministry. Provide opportunities for children to give to and serve those less fortunate then themselves, and they will understand the heart of God instead of only knowing the doctrine. You can do this through having children help with soup kitchens or giving away school supplies in your local community. But missions are also an important part of compassion. We need to teach children about world missions and give them opportunities to participate so they will understand that Christianity is a global movement.
Worship:Children need an opportunity to uplift and worship God. Make sure to incorporate worship into your children’s program. Also help children to understand worship comes from the heart, and true worship is reflected in the lives we lead.
Ministry: Children need more that a great children’s program. They need to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Give them opportunities to minister in the church. and you will start them off in a lifetime of service to God.
The next few posts will cover signs of a thriving Children’s Ministry. All children’s ministries that truly succeed have certain things in common.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Vision is a word heard often in church meetings. It is a popular buzz word among ministry leaders. Many times, a committee will spend countless hours pouring over finding the vision statement that best typifies their ministries. But rarely does that vision statement have any power to it. Why isn’t a great vision statement enough?
God doesn’t just want us to have a great vision statement, He wants us to have a vision for the ministry He’s entrusted us with – His Vision. Writing down a vision statement is a good idea, but there are other things we need to do if we want vision to be an important part of our children’s ministries.
Pray: Ask God what He wants. Ask Him what His vision for the children’s ministry is. If He doesn’t answer right away, don’t rush through to come up with your own. Seek Him and His Will for your ministry. Spend time in prayer and fasting until you know what He wants your children’s ministry to be.
Your Identity: Your vision for your children’s ministry also speaks to your identity. What part do you have to play in the Kingdom of God? Location is one aspect of your identity. If your church is located in a large inner city, your emphasis may be different that if you have a church in a rural community or a suburban area. Evangelism will still be a part of your ministry, but you’ll reach different types of people. Culture also plays a part of it. A church set in the Deep South will have a different culture than a church on the West Coast. Your denomination or doctrine will also play a part. Pentecostal churches will emphasis aspects of worship in children’s church and Lutherans will emphasis other aspects based on their doctrine and style of worship. All of this has a part in the vision of your children’s ministry.
Core Elements: While your children’s ministry identity may be different, there are certain core elements that should be in every children’s ministry vision. Among them are evangelism, service, missions, worship, and discipleship. Consider how these elements are reflected in your vision.
Communication:If you think you’re a leader and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk. As a leader, you have a responsibility to communicate your children’s ministry vision to your pastor, your workers, the children in your ministry, and their parents. The more people understand where you are leading them, the more likely they are to follow.