“It’s the Kids…Dummy!
Intro: Don’t take it personally, I’m talking to myself too. Church Growth and Discipleship is my thing. From Oakwood College to Andrews University to Fuller Seminary-ground zero for the church growth movement-it has been my passion. So I still shake my head when I think of how long it took me to fully appreciate how invaluable children’s ministry is to the growth and development of the local church.
It’s common sense, but common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. If you want to start a church, prioritize the kids. If you want to grow a church, prioritize the kids. If you want to resurrect a church, prioritize the kids.
Church growth books are like death, taxes, and diet books- they are always with us. Experts abound. Everyone has the special steps, the secret sauce. Everyone has the secret to doubling your membership, even if that secret has escaped their own church. But here’s a tried and true method for growing your church numerically and spiritually. Prioritize the kids.
Let me give you some reasons why, if we’re concerned about the present and future of the church, we’ll prioritize the kids,
If You Get The Kids, You Get The Parents
Now this isn’t the most important reason for reaching out to kids, but since our theme is growth, I’ll start here. “Parents who can be approached in no other way, are frequently reached through their kids.” Testimonies Volume 4 pg. 70.
Ellen White was on point. Seems like before my kids made it home from the hospital, I was already scheduling their baby blessing and baptism. I was literally more concerned about my kids than myself, and especially their salvation. I’m not claiming that I was right, but I am claiming that I was not alone!
The best way to get to most parents is through their kids. When you attract the kid, you attract the parent. And when the parents are made to understand how important their role is to the salvation of that kid, you will usually get both.
If You Get The Kids, You Get the Grandparents…and Aunts…and Uncles…
I was visiting a church one Sabbath that had seen a tremendous drop in membership. I was bracing myself for another disappointing look at a church that literally died over the last 30 years. But to my surprise, rather than having any pew to myself, as was usually the case, the place was pretty full. It didn’t take me long to see why.
It was Children’s Sabbath. The kids were front and center. They taught, they sang, they preached. And it seemed like every kid brought a cheering squad. Proud relatives were everywhere. Many of them probably had only been in a church for weddings and funerals. But they were there in numbers that day. And my church growth imagination was thinking of a hundred ways to get them back.
Get Them Early, Or You Might Not Get Them At All
Most of the research that I’ve seen over the years seems pretty consistent. Easily 75% of Christians come to Christ before they reach the age of 18. And the longer it takes, the longer it takes! Experts identify a 4-14 age window when kids are most open to the gospel. And we need to make it our business to cultivate that spiritual seed and then be prepared to harvest it.
“When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers in all ages, –to officers of the church, to ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, Suffer them to come; as if He would say, They will come if you do not hinder them..” Desire of Ages, p. 517
And I Could Go On!
Here are some other reasons that local churches should put a greater investment in Children’s ministry.
- It Passes On Our Faith.
- It Begins To Train Future Leaders.
- It Gets Men Involved.
- It Makes The Church More Mission Minded
- They Bring Joy!!
So, there you have it. Over the years I’ve hired more church employees than I can remember: custodians, drivers, teachers, day care workers, youth pastors, associate pastors, secretaries, administrators, musicians…musicians…. musicians…. more musicians! If I had it to do over again, at the top of that list would probably be children’s pastor.
That’s me. What about you? How is your church doing with the children and youth? Any suggestions?