Friday, September 23, 2016

A rant to my fellow church leaders about children's ministry

I find myself having very similar conversations with church leaders here in the uk over and over again and their reluctance on some of these issues confuses me. One such conversation is around providing a dedicated children's church for the duration of the service and the other going to multiple services.

Obviously I am biased as we at MKCC have been doing multiple services for at least 20 years and been providing for our children through Discovery Kids for over 10 years.

Here are some reasons for providing children's church for the whole length of your service.

1. Children learn about Jesus on their level

Ok I guess you can do that during the 45 minutes of the preach.

2. Children can sing songs & worship Jesus in a way that's relevant to them

We can sing songs that communicate truth that they can understand and relate to in a musical style that connects with them. Please don't give me this family worship thing. I've been in church all my life from being a baby. I had little comics (christian ones of course - about Tim and someone if I remember correctly) to keep me quiet. Now they have iPads etc. It's not family worship it's how do we keep them quiet!

3. Parents can actually relax and enjoy church

I remember when we first started providing a children's programme for the full length of the service. We did not make it compulsory (and still don't ) and allowed parents to take children into our service and join the Discovery Kids during the preach (we don't allow that anymore). Within a week or two everyone was checking the children in at the start of the service. I can guarantee that 99.9% of parents will welcome it with open arms and the 0.1% well they are gluttons for punishment! (Just a wee joke). Now in the summer where Discovery Kids take a 4 week break parents can't cope and don't come to church lol

4. Children will look forward to church

We have kids that drag their parents to church. Being brought up in church having to sit through what seemed like a millennium to me, actually 90 minutes, and being thumped for dropping my pencil on the stupid wooden floor, church was not fun. The thump or should I say clip round the ear made a bigger noise than my falling pencil. God didn't make children to sit still on a chair for 90 minutes.

5. The congregation is less distracted as there is less noise

It's not the number one reason but it is a reason. My childhood memories kick in again. On dropping your pencil on the wooden floor was not enough to distract then if the clip round the ear was too hard the said child would start to cry. So the parent would then have to clump over the wooden floor dragging the crying child behind them the cries getting louder as you neared the door. Because the child knew that an even worse fate was beyond them doors. ( ok I know that this sort of thing doesn't happen now but I was born in the 60s) So now no one was listening to the preacher or worship leader. 

6. It is so much more accessible & reassuring for new guests.

So it's my first time in church with little Johnny who's 5. I sit through the first part of the service then during one of the songs some strange dressed up character appears and asks all the children to follow him as he prances round the church. The kids form a line and disappear to who knows where! Really? Wouldn't it be better to have a secure place where they can go to with clearly identified volunteers with maybe tshirts. With a robust check in and out procedure so that they know where there child is, who they are with and that they are safe!

Discovery Kids has been one of the biggest growth engines of MKCC without a doubt so why do pastors and churches fight against it.

1. It will need more volunteers and you don't have enough for what you already do and you don't realise there will be people sitting in your church with a passion for kids who will step up. Discovery Kids has the biggest volunteer team in MKCC and has the most young people serving in it. 

2. It will probably need a very high capacity volunteer or even a paid member of staff to lead it. It staggers me that in the UK a children's pastor seems to be at the bottom of so many pastors and churches list. When will they realise that the investment in a great children's pastor will reap so many rewards and add more to your church than the pastors pa will, that he really doesn't need. Discovery Kids has 3 full time and one part time members of staff. More than any other department or area!

3. It will cost money. It staggers me that churches will spend tens of thousands of pounds in upgrading lights, video screens and projectors but make the children's department bake cakes to raise money to buy some new crayons! 

4. It's difficult to transition the children into "big" church when they are older. This one does my head in. Reaching teenage years is always a challenge but I really believe our experience is that a greater percentage of our kids make a good transition. Many of them have experienced Discovery kids from the age of 2 through to 12. So the are desperate to serve, to become a junior leader, into whom we train and encourage. But if they are going to struggle in our services at the age of twelve why make them totally out of it for the 10 years before that.

Please pastors & churches get with the plot invest in the kids in your church & see your church grow

Rant no 1 over:)