If asked, most church congregations would agree that children’s ministry is very important. After all if we are to have a healthy future we want to attract families, so we need good children’s programs. Perhaps more importantly though children’s ministry helps congregations fulfill their calling to pass on the faith to the next generation. It also helps us support parents as they raise their children in an increasingly secular world. Besides we really want families to come to our churches don’t we? They bring so much joy and energy into our communities. The trouble is that some church congregations say they value children’s ministry, but don’t actually make it a priority. So how can you tell if your church really values children’s ministry? Here are a few pointers
Budget. Churches that value children’s ministry will invest in it financially. It costs money to run a good program. Curriculum, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses need to be covered. I know too many churches where the volunteers pay for these costs out of pocket, or struggle on a shoestring budget. If we say that we value children’s ministry we will put our money where our mouth is.
- What percentage of your churches overall budget is dedicated to children’s ministry?
- What does that tell you?
Staffing Not many congregations in the Anglican Church of Canada have the money to pay for their children’s ministry workers, so the vast majority of our children’s ministry programs are run by volunteers. A church that values children’s ministry will actively recruit volunteers and then do everything they can to support, affirm, and encourage them.
- Do you have trouble finding volunteers? If yes why?
- Does the whole community get involved in recruitment, or is it left to the Sunday school superintendent?
- Does the leadership regularly thank your volunteers and express appreciation for the work they are doing?
- Does your church provide prayer support for your workers?
Meeting Spaces Today’s parents are looking for a safe, clean, and attractive learning areas. If children’s ministry is a priority then a church will work hard to make sure the facilities are child friendly and safe. I know many churches have multipurpose rooms that are used for a number of activities, so that poses a challenge. Still it has been my experience that the children’s groups are often allotted space in rooms decorated and designed for adults. I would suggest it should be the other way round. If you value children’s ministry decorate and arrange the rooms with the children in mind, then let the adults use the space when they need to meet. Inspect the rooms the rooms where your children meet.
- Are they safe, clean, and attractive?
- Are they designed with children’s ministry in mind?
Communication Churches that make Children’s Ministry a priority make sure they communicate this to the congregation.
- How much airtime does your children’s ministry get in the bulletin, website, and announcements?
There is an old proverb that says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Today’s parents are looking for congregations that value children and make ministry to them a priority. How does your church community rate? What about your Diocese?