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 We all have the potential to become outdated if we don’t continue to learn, grow, and change with the times.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.
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.