An effective children’s ministry– whatever form that may take– is really important for most church plants. The one exception I can think of is New Song Church because they were primarily reaching college students and singles. They didn’t have any form of children’s church until one month before the founding pastor and his wife were due to have their first child. Then they felt the leading of the Lord to start a children’s ministry. But before that it simply wasn’t necessary: the church had grown to over 100 people without any children at all.
However, for the rest of us, here are the two most essential components of a children’s ministry. This is what parents are looking for– even unchurched parents. What are the two questions a parent asks a child on the way home from church?
- Did you have fun? If the answer is no, the family is not coming back. When my wife used to teach a Sunday school class for 4-to-5 year old children, she would take time at the end of the lesson to review all the fun they’d had together. For children too young to communicate, the corollary is safety. Does the infant room appear to be a safe, happy, clean environment? If the children’s ministry passes this first litmus test, the parents will ask a second question.
- What did you learn? In response, a very young child may thrust up a paper with cotton balls glued onto it. These are sheep, and this paper is proof of Bible learning. Older children may be able to articulate some of what they’ve learned, but even then it’s helpful if they have some form of “proof” to hand to the parent. Even unchurched parents want some proof of learning– moral education rather than just childcare.
How are you incorporating these two essential areas into your children’s ministry?