The Case of Plentiful Workers


• Turnover-People periodically leave Coastlands as
they do other churches. The most common reasons people give for
leaving include scheduling or distance. But these departures (which
are estimated to be on average with other churches of this size)
don’t impact the church’s purpose. The church remains focused on
helping people mature in their faith at the same time they’re
helping children grow in theirs.

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• Room for more-Also typical of many churches is
the question of landing on outreach that really works to draw new
families in. With an abundance of children’s ministry volunteers,
Coastlands is well-equipped to draw many more than the 100 or so
children it does each weekend.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can attract more children from
the community,” Martinez laments. “We have a capacity for more kids
than we have attending.”

Case Closed

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It doesn’t take a lot of undercover work to determine the
significant secret to Coastlands’ success. It’s all in the
motivation behind the willing hands–motivations of love,
belonging, relationship, and care; just ask any passing volunteer
or ICU leader.

Lauren Spencer, an ICU leader who cares for 1- and 2-year-olds, has
volunteered more than 20 years in the ministry. “I was never able
to have my own children,” she says, “but I have a family here. I’ve
cared for infants who are now having their own kids.”

Dane Brown, an ICU leader, agrees. “People are in an ICU for a
reason, to be together. They want to be with each other, whether
it’s in a coffee shop or a children’s classroom. About 80 percent
of our people show up every week.”

Jeff Young, an ICU leader says, “Tonight during the 5 p.m. service,
we’ll probably have six adults with a couple of high school
helpers, in a class of 15 to 20 kids. During the down time, we’re
able to be together and have relationship.”

“To be honest, perhaps the biggest challenge we face is that the
ICU groups enjoy being together so much that sometimes we need to
remind them that they’re here to serve the children, not to talk to
each other,” Engelhardt laughs. “But for the most part, people do a
great job and enjoy being together.”


Coastlands Church has built a remarkable cultural emphasis around
investing in children. Coastlands’ children and families gain from
the quantity and quality of care provided. Theirs is a village
approach to children’s ministry, with win-wins for the kids-and the
adults serving them.

Alan Nelson ( is a leadership
development specialist and founder of KidLead (

Culture Clues

If you’re interested in following Coastlands’ footsteps, follow
these clues to get started.

• Get top-level support. For any value to become a
part of your church culture, your senior pastor has to share the
passion and energy to make it so.

• Spread the love. When children become a priority
churchwide, your ministry will overlap other ministry areas, as
opposed to being a silo where information is not shared. Small
groups serve as a crossover vehicle to organize people through
existing networks and relationships. Children’s ministry provides a
means for deepening friendships while giving.

• Emphasize spiritual growth. Serving is a means
to individual spiritual formation, not just a way to fill “holes”
and gather warm bodies. This value must be embraced within your
church culture.

• Grow your leaders. Make leadership development
an intentional goal, so leading a small group also involves
gathering a team to serve in children’s ministry.





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