10 Things Parents Want To See In Your Children's Ministry
As someone who has worked with many children’s ministries over the years, I felt like I had a good handle on what great children's ministries looked like. However, I will admit that prior to personally fathering children, this self-assessment was a bit overstated.
I can now say with 100% certainty that my expectations changed the day that I put my first child into the children's ministry at our church. After many years of actual experience working with children’s ministries and involving my own kids, I’ve noticed that some church practices have stood out among the rest. Here are some of the biggest takeaways I’ve seen implemented in great children’s ministries.
Security is one of the most important aspects of a functioning children’s ministry. As a parent, there is nothing more comforting than knowing you will be dropping off your child in a safe environment. If your ministry currently doesn’t account for security measures, start by creating a check-in system and assign at least one volunteer to manage the process.
Having a solid security plan is important, but make sure it isn’t at the expense of efficiency in the drop off/pick up process. There should be a thorough check-in and check-out system, like a bracelet or sticker, that allows you to pick up your child in a systematic way.
2. An engaging space
I love themed spaces, but the theme needs to point back somehow to the mission of the church: sharing the gospel, growing spiritually, and making disciples. If the theme of a pirate ship, tree house, or volcano helps get you there, it might be fun to incorporate those fun elements. In fact, this is a wonderful opportunity to reach your younger congregation while supporting their spiritual growth.
The children’s ministry lays the foundation of spiritual development for kids.
But don't sacrifice an epic children's ministry space for the importance of sharing the love of Jesus each week. You have a simple yet safe inviting environment for your kiddos that shares the love of Jesus in an engaging week.
3. Familiar faces
For the sake of burnout, the same people can’t be running the same spaces every week. However, it helps to have a familiar rotation of volunteers to help the children feel comfortable. These volunteers should know many of the kids’ names and greet them at the door when they arrive.
Similarly, the check-in person (if you don’t have a self check-in) needs to be a rockstar with great memory recall. There is nothing more frustrating for a parent than having a check-in person greet you as though you are new to the church every week.
4. A take-home element
Every week, kids should be leaving church with a visual reminder or something to help them focus on what they learned. This can be an art project, children's ministry resource, or even a song that supports the lesson for the week. This offers parents some peace of mind that their children (and subsequently, the family) are leaving learning about Christ in a new way.
Children’s ministry is not just daycare, it’s a spiritually developing place for kids to grow.
5. Worship for all kids, regardless of age
This can look many different ways, from full worship services for the older ones, or just a dad and his guitar for the preschoolers. From personal experience, there are few things cooler than hearing your kid randomly break out singing about Jesus throughout the week.
6. Service to others
There should be some sort of element that begins to lay the framework for looking outside themselves to help others. Kids are inherently self-centered, and because of that it can be difficult for them to understand what real-life applications of Christianity, love, and service are all about.
This can be as simple as taking up a collection for the homeless ministry or talking about a holiday toy drive. This will help ground your kids in reality and also protect them from the materialistic focus that society teaches.
7. A seamless transition between age groups
Every transition, whether from room-to-room or from preschool to elementary, should flow in a way that continues to help kids grow spiritually and be excited about the next step in their journey. Essentially, this is the idea that “everything you learned there was needed for you to get here.” All ministries should point toward the same mission.
8. Student ministry exposure
I love hearing how excited my 5-year-old is about the cool things that the Student ministry is doing and how excited he is to do them himself. Showing the kids what the students are doing brings a level of excitement and familiarity with the older groups and helps kids feel less anxious about moving to the next step.
Consistent communication from the children’s pastor about what the kids are doing, what they’re learning, and the purpose of it all is essential. Every day I ask my daughter what she did at school that day, and every day I get the same answer, “I ate lunch.” Kids often don’t communicate what they learned or the point of what they did, so it’s helpful for the pastor to be in communication through emails, newsletters, or other take-home content that keeps the parents involved.
10. Main service platforming
My church does a great job of championing the kid’s ministry in the main worship service. Whether that’s having the kids come in and lead a song or showing a video of what the children’s ministry has been doing, it helps plug the whole family in and shows how important kids ministry is to the foundation of the church. It will ultimately help create buy-in from families.
What other best practices do you use to engage kids and parents in your church?