Kids ministry is high energy and hopefully high impact. As people who minister to children, we hope that we are not only impacting the kids in our ministry, but also their families and in that the future of the church. Historically, ministering to children has always had a focus on ministering to the family unit through the kids we actually have contact with. Whether that is by their families being involved in our church or the kids being “bussed in” to our ministry, the hope has always been that by ministering to the child, their family unit would also be impacted.
In 2018, that can be more challenging than ever. With ministries being more and more separate, it can be hard for the overall ministry of the church to feel cohesive. Our churches can quickly become very segregated with adults meeting here and children meeting over there and the two groups never crossing paths.
This can be a good thing! Adults and children learn in totally different ways and environments. There is great benefit from adults having their own learning space where they can focus in and be disciples and discipled – this is obvious. In a similar way, kids need their own space and learning environment too. If we made all kids sit and discuss in the same way we do adults, we would greatly hinder their learning.
Our solution for this is to have the kids have a separate service. Churches do this in different ways: Some have the kids begin in the main sanctuary and break off after the music so that the lesson can be “kid focused.” Others have the kids totally separate from start to finish so that they are able to have their own songs and music. Again, this is all good! This creates healthy environments for learning for both groups!
The danger this creates is that the groups can become too separate – each one forgetting the other exists. Now I don’t mean that parents literally forget to pickup their children – although that has happened. I mean adults that do not have children or grandchild in the kids’ group can forget that ministry is happening and that the future of the church is also in the building. Not only is this not healthy for the church, but it can cause these adults to become cynical thinking the church’s future is unknown. This is not something you want if you are involved in children’s ministry!
After wrestling with this exact situation at my church, we decided we needed to get the kids in front of the adults. In years past, we would have the kids sing a song in the main service – as a performance. While that is fun and cute and something we still do at Christmas time, I don’t want the only experience the kids have in the main sanctuary to be a performance. Plus, one of the goals we outlined for this endeavor was for the adults in our church to see, know, and understand what the kids are doing and learning from week to week.
We chose to have our kids ministry takeover an entire Sunday service. It was just as it sounds – both awkward and awesome! We setup the entire service exactly how we setup a normal Faith Kids Sunday morning service – only thing we did differently was include some necessary “adult” things so the service could be complete. These included a baby dedication at the beginning of the service, and doing the tithe and offerings more formally (we usually have the kids bring their money up and have a boys vs. girls contest with the money.. although that would have been interesting with a sanctuary full of adults, we didn’t think it would be practical 😉 ).
The kids led worship just as they normally do: We picked out 8 or so kids to be on the stage and the other kids stayed in the front of the congregation. This way, parents and grandparents were more likely to participate in worship (like we wanted them to do) rather than watch and take pictures as if it were a performance. We rotated this group of kids leading worship for each song – something we regularly do in our Faith Kids room.
Normally, in-between songs I talk to the kids about what we all have going on and engage them in conversation. To mimic this, we used the time between songs to push our Faith Kids sponsorship cards we were distributing that morning. The adults were given the opportunity to financially sponsor the children’s ministry in two specific ways: funding bibles for our kids’ space and funding our spring retreat. We had the kids plug the need for bibles (because, cute and who can say no to a 6th grade student reading a request for bibles??) and then I plugged the Spring Retreat because I wanted the emphasis to be on talking to the parents. The retreat plug was also aided with a promo video from the organization putting the event on.
When it came time for tithes and offerings, we had a member of our Children’s Ministry Committee come say a few words and lead in prayer. This gave us leaders the opportunity to get all of the kids on the stage for a special song that would lead into the message. This also gave an opportunity for all of the kids to be on the stage and to be seen so that no kids (or parents) got their feelings hurt as then all kids were included and able to have their moment.
Next, I gave the message. I took that opportunity to give a little background at what our kids have been learning and what the vision and goal of our kids ministry is. Remember, the ENTIRE purpose of this Sunday is for the adults in the church to not only SEE the kids, but SEE and KNOW what they are learning and doing in being discipled. People will not want to get involved if they have no clue as to the vision of the ministry – that stands for every ministry. They need to see the purpose behind the “madness” to be willing to jump into said madness – whether with their time or their finances. After summing up our vision and giving some background to what the kids have been learning in the past few months, I taught a quick lesson. I chose to teach this in the same exact way I teach the kids – again wanting to recreate a Faith Kids service.
A couple of takeaways:
The adults super responded. Adults always enjoy seeing the kids and watching them sing – thinking it is cute. They greatly enjoyed learning and witnessing what the kids are being taught. They were energized by not only seeing the kids, but realizing they are genuinely being discipled each week rather than simply being babysat. I have received countless emails, notes, and messages from our congregation excited about the future of our church. The exciting thing is that this was all ALREADY going on, they are just aware now!
The kids super responded. I’ll be honest: we didn’t have a great turnout as far as numbers are concerned. We had maybe 2/3 of the students we typically have on any given Sunday – so disappointing! It would have been easy to have that be a down and discouraging piece of our day, but the ones that attended were incredibly engaged! They actually shocked me. On a typical Sunday, I ask review questions and use them to discuss our bible story and provide application. Again, I setup this Sunday identically to how I always setup my service – the only difference being I did not expect to actually have kids engaged. I planned to do a lot more talking and filling in than a typical week. Just as I began this section of my lesson, the kids started raising their hands as they normally would. They truly took this Sunday as their “takeover” and were just as engaged and involved as they always are – what an extra blessing and answer to prayer that I hadn’t even anticipated or asked for!
If you are reading this and are someone who ministers to children please know that what you do week in and week out matters greatly to the Kingdom! I know you have seasons where you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. There are times when it feels like there is no one supporting or caring about what is going on in your corner of the building. Take heart! You are cared about and appreciated in the Kingdom. What you’re doing matters and the seeds you are planting matter. Although you may not get to see the fruits, the labor is not in vain. I want this to encourage you to get the word out about what you have going on in your ministry. Whether you use what we did here as a template or as inspiration for what works in your location, I write this to encourage you rather than add to your plate.
If you’re reading this as a member and congregant of a church, please encourage those that minister in your setting. Whether they are in a season of much encouragement and fruit or in one that is dry and feels like it is continuously uphill, the encouragement is unspeakably uplifting to their soul.