What place do bike clubs, karaoke, and hiking have in children's
ministry? Front and center at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City,
Ohio! Find out what this dynamic ministry is doing to tailor-make
ministry that interests kids.
How many mornings do you look in your closet and can't decide what
to wear? You stand there with the door open, looking at all your
choices, but you still can't decide what to put on. You're sick of
the clothes you own. Maybe they're faded, fit a little too snug for
comfort, or they're "all the rage" -- from three years ago.
When was the last time you looked at your ministry the same way
you often look at your closet? Even though my closet has three
racks full of clothes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, I still
have difficulty deciding what to wear most mornings.
I often wonder if that's how kids feel when they come to church.
Kids come with varying interests, talents, and abilities. Do they
often look at our closet of program choices and have a hard time
deciding what to attend? Are we asking children in our churches to
try on or wear programs that no longer fit or are outdated?
One size just doesn't fit all. As children's ministers, we've
discovered these ways to stay current with the latest trends so we
can tailor ministry opportunities that perfectly target the
interests and needs of kids.
CREATE INTENTIONAL MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES
Creating intentional ministry opportunities is just like selecting
an appropriate outfit to suit the occasion. Kids need choices --
lots of choices -- so expand their closet of options.
Our culture has saturated children with clubs, activities,
practices, and camps. Kids' weekly schedules are packed after
school, in the evenings, and on weekends. Why would kids add one
more event to their overloaded calendars or choose a church
Kids will come to different classes and programs if they find one
that fits and is relevant to their interests. Getting to know kids'
needs and interests is vital to a ministry's success.
To accomplish this in our church, we're avid kid watchers. We
spend time hanging out with small groups of kids, playing video
games, listening to music, and window shopping where kids spend
their money. Most important, we ask kids what they like, allowing
us to better provide the children in our church and community with
classes, events, and ongoing ministry programs that fit their
specific interests and needs. We're not competing with the
community and school organizations but instead being intentional in
expanding ministry opportunities and maximizing our
Targeting interests isn't enough in designing ministry. You must
also learn to anticipate and react to the felt needs of the kids
and their families. "I needed clothes and you clothed me," Jesus
said in Matthew 25:36. Many times children in your
church community will become aware of a need before you do. Ask
kids to actively participate in designing ministry by expressing
concerns they or their peers may have. Ministry will always be
relevant if you're in touch with the needs of the kids in your
community. How are you researching your kids' interests and
targeting their needs?
BUILD MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
From the day infants are born, they possess the deep need to
connect with those who love them. This desire to connect doesn't
change as they outgrow their clothes. In fact, children need
relationships with their peers, with adults, and most important,
with God. It's through the incredible power of relationships that
children develop self-esteem, friendships, leadership skills, and
the foundation for spiritual growth.
Relationships take time to develop, but the rewards are worth
every minute spent. While planning ministry opportunities, we
design safe, comfortable environments and activities that encourage
kids to risk sharing their struggles, concerns, and joys. Such
experiences further develop a child's self-worth, problem solving,
and support network of friends. We want kids to find the right
outfit or group and benefit from meaningful relationships.
Relational ministries depend on committed and accessible leaders
who live their faith and are willing to invest in kids long term.
Additionally, leaders must assist in facilitating small groups and
guiding children to find the right fit. We require all our leaders
to get to know each child by name and be able to lead children into
a personal relationship with Jesus. John 10:3 emphasizes this
principle: "The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep
listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them
Is your ministry providing carefully constructed activities that
encourage the development of meaningful relationships?
No outfit is ever complete without a splash of color and the right
accessories. Make sure your ministry is kid-friendly. Offering
experiences that are active and interactive, messy, loud, and
energetic leaves kids wanting more. When kids learn to expect the
unexpected at church events, they're motivated to invite their
friends to experience the excitement. Many children's organizations
have recognized the power of incorporating games, themes, costumes,
music, and drama. Adding these elements to your ministry will
enhance biblical teaching and ensure that all children and leaders
are actively engaged and participating.
How are you accessorizing your ministry so kids want to return
again and again?
GROW THROUGH DISCIPLESHIP
Romans 13:14 says to "clothe yourselves with
the Lord Jesus Christ." Discipleship is the most important piece of
your programming and one that no secular organization or entity can
Kids grow in their faith when they experience a personal
relationship with Jesus. Not only should your programming mirror
Jesus but the children attending should also be a reflection of
Jesus so their peers will see what it means to be a follower of
Christ. Discipleship opportunities are incorporated in everything
our ministry offers. Prayer, reading Scripture, and sharing faith
stories are essential components of every program. Keeping a
balance between biblical teaching and opportunities for kids to
practice their faith through real-life scenarios develops skills
for daily living. Are you balancing biblical teaching with life
application skills in your ministry?