If your children's church is just sputtering along or if it's
simply derailed because disinterested kids are sitting in the
regular church service, it's time to switch tracks. Hitch a ride on
the children's church train!
Successful children's church programming lies not in a curriculum
but in a commitment to these principles:
*Be personal. Don't borrow too much from other programs. What works
in First Church may bomb in Second Church. So emphasize the
strengths of your congregation within your children's church.
*Plan ahead. Nail down the purpose for your program. Why does your
congregation need a children's church? Where do you want to go?
What type of children's church will be offered? Will it be
self-contained, extended sessions, or a snack 'n' game hour?
A stated purpose defines a program. Test all curriculum, methods,
and materials against your overall objectives.
*Provide consistent leadership. Volunteer turnover will weaken even
the best children's church. Therefore, avoid three types of
volunteers: adults who consider children's church an opportunity to
skip adult worship (especially prominent in self-contained
programs), adults who desire control through personal agendas or
doctrine (prevalent in smaller churches), and adults who think
children's church is a ticket to be a kid again. Look for FAT
volunteers: faithful, available and teachable.
*Make it active. Kids learn differently than adults. And they think
differently. In kids' minds, the world is incredibly concrete, and
experience is the best educator. Effective education is active and
encourages children to participate through their five senses.
*Unleash kids' gifts. Let's erase a myth. Kids are the "church of
tomorrow" and the "church of today." Showcase children's gifts. The
maxim is simple: If an adult is doing it, teach a kid to become it.
No matter the task or job. Today's bully may be tomorrow's
*Worship is a verb. Incorporate the worship traditions of your
church. One aim of children's church is to prepare children for
adult worship. Add creative touches to church traditions such as
offerings and communion services.
Another aim is to make worship meaningful for children. Sing praise
songs and popular children's songs, mixing contemporary and
traditional. And involve kids in creative worship expressions-hand
clapping and finger snapping, back rubs and handshakes, arm waves
and leg marches.
*We are family. Most children today are looking for a place to
belong. Children's church can be that place. Construct worship
experiences to be a haven for children. Speak every child's name in
a positive way. Use appropriate touch-whether a hug or "high five."
Incorporate personal sharing into prayer times. Celebrate
individuals and special abilities.
*Predictability kills. Tradition is a wonderful thing, but it can
be deadly. And a children's church without variety is missing only
Naturally, variety exists within a framework; it doesn't suggest
chaos. Children's church is similar to an undressed mannequin; it
has a frame, but it needs different dresses. Avoid using the same
method or learning activity twice in the same month, including
videos. Rather, create new twists on old tricks.
*Disciple instead of discipline. Kids will act up. It's in their
nature. The key is to view discipline as discipleship. Discipleship
views the long term, not just the immediate irritation.
Ensure a successful children's church by instilling positive
behavioral guidelines-ahead of time. Then involve problem children
rather than separating them from the group. Build relationships
with children beyond the church. Discipline by discipling.
Rick Chromey is a Bible college teacher in Idaho. He leads
workshops on children's church.