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Category Archives: Church Revitalization

Lesson #8: Foster Momentum

Once you have a ministry on its way, the worst thing you can do is keep the excitement to yourself. Try to report on what’s going on in Children’s Ministry as much as possible. Show pictures, interview workers, make videos. Inform everyone of the “behind the scenes” work that doesn’t usually get the spotlight. Don’t just act like you’re excited – be excited. This is amazing stuff to be a part of! It deserves to be celebrated.

 

Lesson #6: Get Started

This can be the hardest part sometimes. There have been many times when we have been frozen in the planning phase, afraid to actually start our ministries. Do not be afraid to start with everything less than 100% planned. Just get started. Most of your original plans will be altered through trial and error anyway, so don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from taking advantage of opportunities.

 

Lesson #5: Empower Leadership (for real)

In order to foster true creativity, it is crucial that the leadership learn to humbly empower leadership. This may be the single most important lesson I’ve learned in the last four years. When starting a Children’s Ministry you cannot and should not do everything yourself. Even if you’re the best teacher/craft leader/counselor/foos ball player/theologian in your ministry, you must allow others to serve and lead.

It should be your goal that your ministry would grow to the point that you can no longer do everything. In order to foster that growth, train your leaders now by allowing them to own their ministry—sink or swim.

This is scary for leadership, because you have to let your leaders fail and come up short sometimes. But if you are constantly coming to the rescue, micro-managing, and doing things you told other people to do, you are communicating that you don’t really trust them, and they aren’t really in charge of their ministry.

Demonstrate empowering leadership by being quick to give up authority. If you’ve started a project, and another person expresses interest in being involved, consider the possibility of letting the project be their baby. Then, recognize and thank the efforts of your volunteers often and publicly.

Truly empowered leadership will manifest itself in creative, well organized ministries that create excitement throughout the church and community.

 

Lesson #4: Creativity, not Convenience

It is important, especially at first, to give your team numerous opportunities to be creative. For our church, this meant creating our own Vacation Bible School materials rather than relying on a ready made boxed kit. Encouraging the use of creativity had several benefits.

First, our volunteers invested more in the program because they were passionate about the results. Second, our volunteers were better informed about the program because they were responsible for creating part of it. The entire VBS from start to finish benefited from this increased involvement on behalf of the volunteers. Several parents commented how impressed they were with the extra effort and creativity put forth for their children, and the children themselves felt valued.

 

Lesson #3: Incorporate the Church’s Legacy

Whenever possible, include the church’s past traditions in your children’s ministry. Showing that you value the church’s legacy builds trust with church leadership and fellow church members. This trust is essential, because the involvement of church leadership and fellow church members is essential to a successful ministry.

Do you use every old tradition? No. There has to be a balance. Some things of the past really are irrelevant to the world today. But keep an open mind. At one point in our church’s history, they had a children’s bell choir. I reluctantly agreed to give it a shot with our kids. I was having a hard time envisioning my 4th grade boys putting down their Game Boys, let alone picking up a bell. But the concept was so foreign to them, that it intrigued rather than bored. They loved it!

 

Lessons I’ve Learned: Launching a Children’s Ministry in a Revitalizing Church

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.

1. Be Christ-Centered
2. Be Rich in Content
3. Incorporate the Church’s Legacy
4. Creativity, Not Convenience
5. Empower Leadership (for real)
6. Get Started
7. Keep Going
8. Encourage Momentum