More than one person has said, “Our students and children are the future of the church.”* That statement is true, but it’s also insufficient. Children and students are part of the church now, and we’ll lose them if we don’t minister well to them today. Here are thirteen ways to strengthen your children’s ministry:
1. Enlist your best workers for this ministry.
Don’t allow just anyone to work with children; find your absolute best, even if it means pulling them out of adult classes.
2. Train the workers well.
Willingness to serve does not automatically equal ability to serve. Enlist your best, and then continually train them. Help them know how to lead children in 2018. The strategies aren’t the same as in the 1980s.
3. Establish clear security protocols.
The bottom line: nobody who hasn’t passed a background check should be working with minors, and wandering through your church’s children’s ministry area without clearance should be almost impossible. Take all steps necessary to protect your children.
4. Upgrade your facilities for children.
Provide sufficient space for them. Make sure every door has a window for security purposes. Purchase furniture that’s appropriate for children. Paint the walls bright colors. Get rid of the clutter. Make your children’s areas a place to which children want to come.
5. Don’t lower the bar when teaching children.
Find the best material, and teach it well. Assume your children want to learn about God. They’re probably more open to it than many of your adults are.
6. Capitalize on media resources.
Our children have grown up with video, computers, and the Internet. To not use strong Christian media-based resources is to miss an opportunity to teach our children well.
7. Develop a church membership and beginning discipleship class for children.
When children choose to follow Christ, the biblical demands on their lives aren’t different than adults. Help them get started well as new believers.
8. Hang out with the children.
If you’re a church staff member, your church’s children need to see you and know you apart from “big church” and the pulpit. Walk through their areas every Sunday. Talk to them. Get to know their names. Listen to their stories. Love them.
9. Kneel when talking to children.
Respect and love them enough to lower yourself to their eye level when speaking to them. Something’s just different when they see us face-to-face.
10. If you’re a preacher, remember the children in the audience.
Use illustrations that appeal to children. Call them to attention occasionally by saying something like, “Boys and girls, let me tell you a story” or “Kids, let me explain this word to you.” If your children are listening, it’s more likely your adults will be, too.
11. Establish prayer partners with children.
Imagine what might happen if assigned people in your church prayed weekly for every child in your ministry. Connect the generations by establishing an intentional plan to do so.
12. Get more men involved.
Traditionally, we’ve relegated children’s ministry to females, perhaps more by default than by intentionality. Children need the witness and example of both men and women in their church, though. I believe this move is so important that I’ve just begun the process to get training and security clearance to work with children in our local church.
13. If your church has off-campus small groups, don’t forget the children.
It’s one thing to supervise them in a separate room while adults discuss the Bible; it’s another thing to intentionally teach them the Word, too, while their parents are meeting.
What would you add to this list?
*A portion of this post first appeared at ThomRainer.com.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article was originally published on ChuckLawless.com.