The Three Most Important Pieces to the Kids’ Ministry Puzzle

If kids’ ministry is an afterthought at your church, you are never going to grow. It is the single most important ministry of a church right now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Parents are no longer dragging their kids to church, but if you have a great kids’ ministry, the kids will start dragging their parents.

Let me say this to all my small town pastors out there who prefer to have kids in the adult service instead of having a kids’ ministry, you are making a huge mistake.

Yes, there may be a small benefit in kids seeing mom and dad worship, but it pales in comparison to having a kids’ ministry that is fun and exciting and teaches kids about Jesus on their level.

If this is you, I would beg you to reconsider. The future of your church depends on it.

For the rest of us, it’s not enough to just have a kids’ ministry. Your kids’ ministry needs to be great.

In order for that to happen, we need to focus on these three pieces of the puzzle.

  1. Volunteers. Don’t make the mistake of putting just anyone into kids’ ministry. I know it can be tempting, but unless they are excited and passionate about working with kids, they can do more harm than good. Kids’ ministry should get your best. Kids also thrive on consistency, so keeping them around the same volunteers is ideal. This means I prefer kids’ ministry volunteers serve at least every other week, if not every week. And it should go without saying by now that every kids’ volunteer should be background checked. We use a company called Clear Investigative Advantage, but there are several out there. Just do your research and make sure they’re legit.
  1. Curriculum. Flannel graphs and coloring pages don’t cut it anymore. We’re not just babysitting kids. We’re pointing them to Jesus. This means we need curriculum that keeps their attention and helps them learn. We use a combination of KidSpring and Elevate Kids. KidSpring is completely free. It uses a combination of videos and live acting. You just need to have volunteers who are willing to act out the scripts. Our kids love the KidSpring series, and we would use them exclusively if we had more actors. Elevate Kids is a video based curriculum that is also very good but can be expensive for smaller churches.
  1. Parents. You better care about what parents think of your kids’ ministry because more than likely it will determine if they ever come back to your church. They want to know their child is safe, so it’s a great idea to have a check-in system that only allows the parent to take them out of the room. It’s also important to have policies regarding allergies, sickness, etc. After the service a parent will likely ask their child these two questions about the experience. Did you have fun? What did you learn? If their child gives positive answers, chances are they’re coming back. If not, you probably won’t see them again.

Subpar or non-existent kids’ ministries are one of the top reasons small town churches don’t grow. You can fix this by making kids’ ministry a top priority.

What does the kids’ ministry look like in your church? Do you think it’s attracting families or pushing them away? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below. While you’re here make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Five Elements of a Great Worship Experience

Experiencing church for the first time as a twenty year old young man was quite the experience. I’ve been a part of brush arbor revivals, where you go out into a field and gather some sticks and build a structure to have a church service in. I’ve been in church services where they couldn’t find anyone to play the piano or sing, so we skipped that part of the service. And I’ve been in services in homes where people got so “filled with the spirit” they started knocking things off walls, which led to a quick exit for me.

All that to say, I’ve been in some pretty bad worship experiences.

Even in the church I currently serve, we haven’t always had a great worship experience.

There were times in the beginning in which we never got started on time, prayer time turned into gossip time, and testimonies turned into the second sermon of the day.

It’s really amazing that our church survived those early days, but the one thing we had working for us was a love for God and a genuine love for others.

Once we combined those two things with a great worship experience, we really started to see our church take off, growing twenty, thirty, and even forty percent some years.

So, what makes up a great worship experience? I believe it should consist of these five elements.

  1. Energy. The same buzz and excitement that Jesus brought to every town He visited, I believe we should try to bring to our worship services. Greet people with hugs and high-fives. Provide coffee so people aren’t falling asleep. Create a kids’ ministry that parents have to drag their kids away from. Use high-energy music to set the mood for the day. The world has a way of beating people down throughout the week. Make sure your service lifts them up.
  2. Flow. Nothing–and I mean nothing–will kill energy faster than a bad flow. Not getting started on time, fumbling transitions, dead time between songs, too many announcements, these will all ruin the experience. Most churches should be doing a full rehearsal of the service before the service. I lay out a good format for the worship experience in this post.
  3. Creativity. Creativity builds anticipation, and anticipation creates energy. So, while you should have a consistent flow, you also need to sprinkle in creativity. This could be a video element. It could be a sermon illustration or even a small giveaway that helps them remember the sermon. Each week people should be thinking, I wonder what they’re going to do this week.
  4. Outsider Focused. One of the biggest reasons small churches don’t grow is because they focus too much on those already in the church rather than those outside of it. Andy Stanley wrote a great book on this subject called Deep and Wide. Every church leader should read it. Prepare with the outsider in mind. What do they need to hear? What are the issues they’re facing? Chances are the issues they’re facing are the same as the insiders. The insiders just hide it better.
  5. Intentional Next Steps. If you have the four previous elements mentioned, you’ll have a great opportunity to call people to action. What do you want them to do with the information you just shared with them? If you have a hard time answering that question, chances are your sermon isn’t helping anyone, and you need scrap it and start over. If you teach on money, encourage them to sign up for a budget class. If you teach on the importance of community, encourage them to sign up for a small group. If you teach on grace, encourage them to take Jesus up on his offer to follow Him. Whatever you do, don’t miss your opportunity to help them grow in their faith by putting it into action.

I’d love to hear about your crazy church experiences. Please share them with me in the comments below and let me know if I left anything out. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to make sure you get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week. Know someone else who could benefit from this information? Your next step is to share or forward this on to them. Thanks for your help in equipping small town church leaders around the world.

4 Ways to Jump Start Growth

The weather in Tennessee this time of year is unpredictable to say the least. It’s not uncommon for it to feel like four different seasons in one week. It may be scorching hot on Monday, cool and breezy on Wednesday, tornadoes on Thursday, and then frigid on the weekend. It’s not good for the allergies, and apparently it’s not good for my car battery either. Recently my car wouldn’t start as I was trying to leave work. Luckily, I had some jumper cables with me, and a friend who helped jump-start my car.

Some of you are trying to lead a church with a dead battery, and in this post I want to be that friend that helps give you a jump.

These four ideas by themselves aren’t enough to keep the engine running, but I’ve seen them create the spark necessary to get things started.

  1. Ignite passion in people. It’s impossible to grow a church without passionate people. If passion is lacking in your church, I want to encourage you to do three things. First, make sure you’re seeking Jesus in your personal life. Second, make sure you are constantly celebrating stories of life change within the church. And third, make sure you’re having fun. If you do these three things, you’ll start igniting some passion in people.
  2. Place people into the story. Whether you’re just starting out or your church has been around for hundreds of years, your church has a story. Make sure you take some time to learn it. Once you know what the story is, then I want you to invite other people into the story. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. You just need to help them identify what part they should play.
  3. Find your focus. Too many churches try to be all things to all people. When you try to reach everyone, you actually hurt your chances of growing. Find what makes your church unique, what you can do better than anyone else, and make that your focus. Then cut everything else that doesn’t make sense. Find out how to make a playbook for your church here.
  4. Deal with the hard stuff. Pastors tend to be people pleasers, which is great if you want people to like you but isn’t great if you want to grow a church. Right now, almost all of you reading this know of situations in your church that need to be dealt with. Quit pretending they are going to go away on their own, and start leading your church. Have the tough conversations with staff, board members, and volunteers who are hurting the church. Yes, they may leave the church, but I’ve learned sometimes addition happens best through subtraction. For more on this topic check out this post.

Thanks so much for reading. What would you add to this list? Which of these four is the biggest struggle in your church? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.