“What can we do?” The question seemed filled with hopelessness. The congregation was caught in a vicious cycle. No kids caused church leadership to cancel Junior church for the summer. Because there was no junior church, what kids did attend stopped coming. The leadership knew the church needed families with children to make the church grow but what can a church do when there are no kids and there are no teachers.
If your church is at this point, don’t despair. God wants your church to grow. He cares deeply about the children you want to reach, even more than you do. Your situation is not hopeless. If your church is lacking in families of children, here are three things your church can do to get your children’s ministry up and running again.
1. PRAY: Churches who have experienced exponential growth and revival say the first step toward revival was a commitment to prayer. Pray humbly. Pray expectantly. Pray with each other. Pray for the children. Ask God what He would have each of you do. Prayer is the first step.
2. PREPARE: Once you pray, your doors are not going to burst open with zillions of kids. You aren’t ready yet. Your congregation will need to work together to get ready for the influx of children God is going to send you. Examine your facilities. How can you update and remodel the children’s area? How can you do it in such a way that it shouts to visitors, “Children are important to us!” Choose your curriculum carefully. Plan your programs. Determine your target audience. Reach out to the children in your community. Ask, ”How can we serve the children? “ Meet them on their turf and begin building relationships with them. Plan events that will draw children to you such as carnivals, bike inspections and maintenance or a Pumpkin Patch party in October.
3. PROTECT: If you are going to reach the children in your community, children’s ministry needs to become the number one focus of your congregation. It’s a congregational effort that needs to start from the top down. Everyone, the pastor, the elders, the church board, need to be enthusiastically willing to support the building of the children’s ministry. The church budget needs to reflect that commitment. The mi9nister’s sermons need to be laced with an emphasis on outreach to children. Teachers need to be trained and the congregation needs to be willing to pay for them to be trained. Teachers need to be encouraged, appreciated and supported; otherwise, they’ll burn out. A congregation needs to put a structure into the program that protects the children that come, protects them from harm, from bullying, from ridicule, from predators. Form a task force that will determine ways your church will become a sanctuary for children. Protect your program by not allowing nay Sayers to hold sway over public opinion. When the person in the pew criticizes certain programs or the money spent on the programs, the church leadership needs to have the courage to forge on ahead anyway, to gently say, “This is the path the leadership of the church has chosen to take.”
How big is your God? He owns a cattle on a thousand hills. He can make your children’s ministry program grow. Seek him. Seek his ways. Trust him. Be willing to do what He asks you to do. When you do, you will see your program grow. It won’t happen overnight. But it will happen. Stay faithful and you will find Him faithful as well.