As a Kidmin Leader of 15 years I cringe whenever someone refers to Children’s Ministry as childcare in much the same way most people cringe whenever chalk is dragged along the chalkboard, when your finger slams agains a door, or whenever MTV announces another season of Jersey Shore. It’s just how I’m wired-up.
But sometimes I think we bring it on ourselves.
How we run our Children’s Ministries shapes people’s perceptions of them. If there’s nothing to suggest there’s more than just dropping kids off and picking them up, why should people think we’re more than just babysitting?
If you’re reading this you know better (or are a really caring family member or friend whose trying to boast my blog stats, in which case I thank you. Remind me to take you out to lunch). But how do we change the babysitting perception that causes people to check-out of what God’s called us to do?
I’m glad you asked.
Over the years I’ve observed lots of Children’s Ministries. The ones that are really serious about growing God’s Kingdom by ministering to kids, the ones that aren’t messing around, the ones that are more than babysitting all make these 10 commitments:
1. Never beg for help
Failing to make this commitment is the number 1 mistake I see Kids’ Ministries make. To be fair, I get why most don’t really commit here. There’s lots of needs and not a lot of workers. That’s fair. I’ve been there. We all have. But begging never really got any of us anywhere long-term, has it? If we’re honest we all know this to be true. What begging REALLY does is give others the impression we’re captaining the Titanic and need people to plug holes. Nobody wants to do that.
2. Cater to guys
Let’s be upfront about this one: Children’s Ministry is predominetly filled with women. Nothing wrong with that. The problem, though, is when everything from the fonts on flyers to the color of the volunteer shirts (and everything in between) is picked soley with ladies in mind. At most churches it’s hard to distinguish between the Children’s Ministry and the Women’s Ministry. No straight guy wants to be a part of that. If you want to get more guys on your team (and I’ve yet to meet a Kidmin that didn’t) then you’ve got to look at everything you do from a guy’s point of view (3D glasses can help with this).
3. Have a process made of programs, not programs that make the process
Most Children’s Ministries are know for their VBS and Halloween Programs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these kinds of programs. The tension comes in when the ministry revolves around supporting these programs (sacred cows) rather than the programs working to support the vision of the ministry. If you’re main reason for holding on to one of these sacred cows is “We’ve always done it that way!” Then you’ve got a problem. Isaiah 8:11 (NLT) says, “The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.” It may be time to hold a BBQ at your church for some of these sacred cows.
4. Program for more than just kids
Having a Children’s Ministry that’s more than babysitting is about the kids. It’s also about more than only kids too. You need to have a plan for how you’re going to engage and add value to parents. Click here for 7 practical ways you can start doing this.
5. Have leaders who know when to say no
This goes hand in hand with #3. We can’t be everything to everyone. We need to have clear boundaries that stem from our purpose and vision. We need to say no to lots of good things to say yes to the few great things that are in our wheel house. Bottom Line: You can’t make everyone happy, so stop trying.
I’ll cover the other 5 next week. In the meantime I’d love to hear from you. What would you add or change about this list?