One thing we quickly discovered at Life.Church is if your kids ministry isn’t growing, your church may not be growing, either. Show me a healthy church, and I bet I can show you a healthy children’s ministry.
In my role as Central Ministry Leader for LifeKids, the childrens ministry at our 26 locations, I connect often with our LifeKids teams at each campus.
If there are issues with the growth and health of their campus, I ask them these three questions:
- Are you providing a great experience for families?
- Are you partnering with parents?
- Is your leadership team strong?
Let’s unpack these questions just a bit.
1. Are you providing a great experience for families?
Before you can answer this question, you must first define what a great family experience is. For us at Life.Church, the experience doesn’t start when the children walk into their rooms, when they check in, or when they see their friends. The experience begins as soon as their car turns into the parking lot.
Here are a few things we look at to make sure our families have a great experience:
How are they being welcomed?
- Did someone open the door for them?
- Are the kids being greeted, ideally by name, as they walk into the room?
What do they hear and see as they walk in?
- Are there signs that help them find their rooms or the restroom?
- Are the rooms clean and organized?
- Do the hallways and room smell nice?
One of our core values is excellence. “We will always bring our best. Excellence honors God and inspires people.”
Before the weekend begins, we do an “excellence walk” to make sure we are ready to welcome families on the weekend.
- Is the Guest Services counter clean and organized?
- Is the tech booth organized?
- Are the crayons clean and crisp or are they stubby and broken?
- Do all rooms have clean, good-working toys set out?
- Is the curriculum prepared?
- Is our kids entrance warm, clean, and friendly?
- You may even do a mini excellence walk between services to make sure the last service is as clean and welcoming as the first.
The goal of the excellence walk is to make sure that our kids areas are ready to go before weekend experiences start, so our staff and volunteers can focus on greeting, teaching, and reaching kids and their families.
If places like Disney are so focused on creating a great customer experience, how much more should this be a priority of the Church?
Action step: Schedule your first excellence walk and view your ministry like a family attending for the first time.
Learn more about providing a great experience by watching our free training: LifeKids Know, Feel, Do.
2. How well are you partnering with parents?
Some of you may be wondering what partnering with parents looks like—here’s how it plays out here at Life.Church. We only have one hour a week to pour into the life of a child; that leaves 167 hours in the week where we can’t teach, encourage, or instruct students. But, their parents can…and should. We, as a church, recognize we’re not the primary source of spiritual formation—parents are.
The influence of parents will always be larger than the influence of the church, so partnering with parents is absolutely key. Our ministry must focus on equipping parents with resources and next steps for their children.
Partnering with parents always happens through conversation, but that conversation doesn’t have to be with you. Empower your leaders or volunteers to connect with parents as they lead their kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
As you engage with parents, know that you don’t have to tell them everything about your ministry at once! Listen to them and where their children are in their walks with Jesus. One method we use for connecting with parents is F.O.R.M.
F.O.R.M stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Method of contact. Asking about their family, what they do for a living, what their family likes to do for fun, and then getting a method of contact is a great way to engage and get to know a family. Knowing these basics, you can build future conversations based on the information gathered. Watch our free training, Host Team: Three Questions That Improve Engagement to learn more about this method.
The reason we develop a relationship and seek to partner with parents is to help them find their family’s next step. Every family has a next step, like these:
- Getting plugged into a small group
- Serving at the church
- Attending an event for families new to the church
- Coming back to church or attending regularly
Action step: Talk with your #kidmin team and brainstorm ways your staff and volunteer teams can partner with parents.
3. How strong is your leadership team?
Your leadership team is not paid staff; your leadership team are volunteers in positions of leadership. Think of it this way: your leadership team could run the experience if your paid staff were out sick.
Here’s what our leadership structure looks like on a weekend:
- Leaders (volunteers)
Our LifeKids staff goal is to lead our coaches, and have our coaches lead our volunteers, and our volunteers lead kids. This structure makes leading and caring for dozens or hundreds of children possible.
How strong is your leadership team? Do you have a leadership team?
Adopting this mindset wasn’t easy for me. In the beginning, I felt like I needed to do everything myself; I was a one-man show. Then, one day, I realized I wasn’t leading the way God called me to.
I was running around putting out fires, but I wasn’t releasing leaders.
Once I realized that empowering others was the key to leading the ministry forward, the ministry grew and became healthy. I understand you may be in the position I was in. I encourage you to give tasks and responsibilities away. Start now! You don’t have to do everything. Find what you’re best at and empower other leaders to do the rest. Learn more about how to build an empowering culture in the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.
Allow “coaches” to own their part of the ministry. Tell them, “I believe in you!” Help them find and unleash their God-given passion.
Remember: “What you do and who you empower Monday through Friday gives you the margin to lead and love people on the weekend.”
Action step: To build a strong team, you must identify and recruit key leaders. Look at your current leadership team. Are the members in the right spot? Are there gaps that need to be filled?
I pray these questions will be springboards to a healthy, more vibrant children’s ministry in your church. I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating an excellent environment, partnering with parents, and building a strong leadership team. Come chat with me and other ministry leaders in our free online community for pastors and church leaders.
Thanks to Justin Edge, Central Team Leader of LifeKids, for this post.
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