On Mission Kids Ministry
Ever thought about taking your churches children’s ministry to the streets? I think we should. Most children’s ministry is focused on reaching/teaching/discipling kids that show up at my church on the weekends or midweek. Some of the questionable outcomes of this:
- Can teach kids that church is all about them & most importantly, about them having fun, falling just short of disciple-making.
- Wanting to grow our churches, we sometime start talking about kids as only a hook to get their parents “butts in the seats” (to quote Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act). “If the kids have fun, the parents will come back” ~ church growth quip.
- Children’s facilities can cost mega bucks.
- Can cut the rug out from under parental responsibility for discipling kids as they become more and more dependent upon the “professionals” down at the church.
AND the big one, that our team has been grappling with: WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY KIDS THAT ARE NOT COMING TO THE FULL COLOR KIDS MINISTRY EVENTS AT OUR CHURCH EVERY WEEK?
In my region of 345,000 people, demographic reports show that around 21% of the population is age 14 or below. That’s around 69,000 kids!!!! In my denomination, which is one of largest in the region with 11,500 worshipers on any given Sunday, approximately 18% of that number are children under 14. Meaning on any given week only 2,500 or so kids are attending, which is only about 4% of the population in the 14 and under age bracket. We average about 7,000 each year for Vacation Bible School, which is a 1-week, 4-hour overdose of Sunday’s Kids Ministry. That gets us to 10%. Add the other evangelical groups to the mix and best figures, after consulting with other church leaders, give me a number of 4,500 kids in an evangelical church each Sunday for faith & fun. That’s only 7% of the kids in our community. And many of these kids are growing up with absolutely no access to the Gospel story or a Christian witness in their lives. Are we losing a generation as we strategize on how to improve our children’s facilities? (& considering the # of kids that need to be reached, can we even build a big enough facility to do what’s needed?) & preach loudly about God being taken out of schools? & order next years Vacation Bible School curriculum? & continue to think of kids ministry as a facilities focused ministry?
A New Vision for Kids Ministry
What if we began to consider the 93% in our Kids Ministry strategy? Not neglecting the 7%, providing faith & fun on Sunday’s as we are, but also thinking of new ways to get God’s story into the lives of kids in our community. When you think of it like this you’ll realize there are more opportunities then you might imagine. Here’s a few ideas:
- Encourage your congregation to get involved in schools on their terms, not yours. There are a variety of mentoring, tutoring, encouraging opportunities that will equal relationships with unchurched families in the community & opportunities to invest in kids. Our church recently provided free popcorn for an area schools open house & met several families in need.
- Partner with local kids organizations that are serving children & asking (if not begging) for volunteers. In my community, there’s the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, local multi-housing complexes, private schools. And we’ve found many of them are open to you sharing THE story as part of your work.
- Multiply what you do on-site, off-site. You’ve made great backdrops & costumes, produced cool videos & posters, you’ve bought expensive curriculum, & prepared awesome crafts, & you’ve trained volunteers who are loving it. Why not look for an avenue to multiply that in the community? Do the VBS at a local multi-housing complex or another church that would not be able to do it for the kids in their neighborhood on their own. Do a one day kids ministry event at a local park or multi-housing complex utilizing all the stuff you’ve done over the past few months.
- Local Festivals provide opportunities to show kids & families that faith is fun by providing some of the crafts or games or other elements you do each week. This is a great way also to build trust with community leaders & parents. And you can say, “if you like what we do here, you’ll love our Kids ministry at ______ Church on Sunday.”
- Get the Kids involved. Instead of seeing them as hooks to get more “butts in the seats.” See them as missionaries who can invest in their friends & demonstrate that faith is fun & meaningful in the community. Teach kids that it’s important to serve & that faith is not just about them but others, by taking them on a local mission trip to the park or festival or multi-housing complex for Kids Ministry Day.
- Start or get involved in a mentoring program for children without dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster children, etc.
- Instead of VBS. I heard of one church that instead of VBS they encouraged neighborhood Bible Clubs during the summer & trained & empowered people to reach the kids & families around them, utilizing the same curriculum sets & production quality, but in yards & subdivision common space all around the city.
- Other ideas?
We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep preaching about culture decay, God kicked out of schools, & bad parenting. We’ve got to get involved. The doors are open in our communities. It won’t be easy, but salt is no good left in the salt-shaker. Could our churches add salt by taking your kids ministry to the streets?
Just thinking. Please share other ideas, opinions, corrections, smart remarks, etc. in the comments.