Leading a Children’s Ministry is tough. It’s tough to compete for the attention of kids who have constant access to entertainment. It’s tough to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. And when you want to try out a new idea, it’s tough to convince your team that it will be effective, even though it’s not the way “we’ve always done it.”
It’s tough to start a Children’s Ministry, too. There aren’t any traditions to buck and it can be liberating to build your program from the ground up. But, chances are you are a part of a small and young church with limited resources, little volunteer support, and, often, a lack of experience or maturity in leadership.
But what if you were somewhere in the middle? What if you happen to be starting a new ministry in an old church? At first glance, this may seem to be a less than ideal setting for starting a Children’s Ministry.
And in my case, it certainly felt that way. I found myself, a 19 year old with little experience, handed the task of starting a Children’s Ministry for a 75 year old church in which the median age was 65. There were twelve children grades Nursery-12th grade, and four of them were my siblings. The church had not had any children’s ministry for a generation.
I had all the challenges of an old church: traditions conflicting with relevance and volunteers who had strong ideas of how it should be done and all the budget and volunteer challenges of a new church.
Fast forward 4 years. Today, we have 50 regularly attending kids between Sunday Morning and Wednesday nights. We now have functioning nursery, pre-school, primary, junior, and youth group ministries. Every year we have a VBS, fall carnival, and Christmas program. We recently started a weekly after school program for neighborhood teens, and our Wednesday night program for Kindergarten – 6th graders consists of 25 kids, 90% of whom are from un-churched families.
I do not wish to brag. On the contrary: I had little to do with it. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain.” It is all to the glory of God that anything good has come from my involvement in the past 4 years.
But I do wish to encourage those in a similar position. My experience has been that a new ministry in an old church can be the best of both worlds. With an established church, comes a wealth of spiritually mature volunteers, facilities ready for use, and a rich heritage of fellow workers who have gone before you. If you, as a leader, can learn to take full advantage of these priceless resources, you will find, as I have, that “re-starting” a Children’s Ministry is an exhilarating and rewarding process.
Throughout the past four years, I have made many mistakes (too many to number) and learned many lessons (too many to list). I’ve chosen 8 that I find particularly essential to launching a Children’s Ministry revitalizing church. They are the lessons I wish I would have known before I started. They are the lessons I am continuing to learn.