Children’s Ministries come in all shapes and sizes. From large group worship to small accountability groups and family ministry to age segmentation, you will find it all at churches across Arkansas. While programs, schedules and activities vary, there are some essentials needed by every children’s ministry.
First is an emphasis on relationships. Children today are involved in many different activities. When these activities conflict with church, what is more important? The relationships children develop at church with leaders, parents, and other children will impact the family’s attendance. Relationships keep kids coming back. They want to know they are part of a group that knows birthdays, misses them when they are gone, calls when they are sick and knows how they like to spend their free time. Relationships at church take time to develop. Time away from class needs to be invested. Leaders need to be consistent and committed. Why are relationships so important? They are one of the quickest ways to point families to Jesus. When those at church live out their relationship with Jesus in a way that it impacts their relationships with the children they teach, the children learn more about Jesus and how to live what they believe.
A safe, secure environment is a requirement. One of the first things today’s families look for in churches is a place where they feel comfortable leaving their children. This means rooms need to be clean, hazard-free and have age- appropriate equipment that is in good condition. It also means families need to feel confident in the leadership in the children’s area. Here are some general questions to ask if you need a starting point:
What do our children’s facilities communicate to guests about the value of their children and their well-being?
Have our rooms been checked for age appropriate toys and safe equipment?
How often are our rooms and equipment cleaned and disinfected?
Do we have a way to communicate key elements such as checking children in and out, illnesses, allergies and emergency plans?
Is there a system for enlisting, screening and training leaders who work with children?
Are our classes properly staffed with a minimum of two leaders per room?
A focus on Bible skills is what sets a child’s time at church apart from most of their other activities. Effective children’s ministries understand the importance of intentionally teaching children Bible skills from the start. From babies seeing and touching the Bible to preteens having personal Bible study on a daily basis, Bible skills last a lifetime. Teaching Bible skills involves showing children how to use the Bible, learning the books and divisions of the Bible, where to find people and places in the Bible, memorizing scripture and how to have a devotional time. For a brochure on how to introduce the Bible to children at different ages and helpful tips for using the Bible with preschoolers and elementary children you can download the Levels of Bible Skills or call the Evangelism and Church Health Team for a free copy.
Evangelism should have a prominent role in every children’s ministry. Pointing kids to Christ is why children’s ministry exists. Children need to be introduced to biblical truths and given opportunities to respond. These opportunities need to be in large group settings such as worship and Vacation Bible School as well as smaller venues like Sunday school and discipleship classes. Leading a child to Christ can be one of the most rewarding things a person will ever do, but many are unsure when it comes to talking about salvation with children. Take the time to train both children’s leaders and parents in the basics of sharing the gospel with children. Those who are more comfortable in talking about becoming a Christian are more likely to share with their children. If you are unsure where to start, our office is here to help or you can browse this sampling of resources:
Leading a Child to Christ Training Pack
Sharing God’s Special Plan with Children
Children and Conversion
Because children learn through hands on experiences, they need a way to serve. Look for ways to include the children at your church in the life of the church. Here is a list of ways children can serve on Sundays:
• Read a scripture passage or quote a verse from memory related to the sermon
• Hand out worship guides
• Singing a solo or as part of a choir
• Taking up the offering
• Putting out or collecting attendance records
• Cleaning the pews/seats after the service
• Tell a Bible story or do a puppet show for a preschool class
Here are ways children can serve at other times:
• Have a “Kids’ Clean Up Day” at church where kids do simple things like clean windows, sharpen pencils, test markers, wipe down chairs, etc. followed by a pizza party
• Make cards/treats to be handed out on hospital visits
• Collect food for a local food pantry and be a part of delivering it
• Visit nursing homes or homebound members and share Bible stories, verses and songs
• Make appreciation baskets for firemen, police officers, teachers or other community helpers
• Hand out bottles of water at community events or parades
For more information on anything mentioned in this article, contact the Evangelism and Church Health Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention at 501-376-4791 ext. 5193