Adventure Pals Blogs
Restarting Your Children’s Ministry – part 7
While there are some wonderful moments you can look back on and rejoice, most of the time it’s just slow going.
Perhaps the greatest investment in restarting your children’s ministry is time. The church needs to spend time in prayer for the children individually, the workers, and the ministry as a whole. Teachers need to spend time in preparing lessons. Time needs to be spent on planning and preparation. And time must be given for the seeds that are planted to take root and grow. It takes time to restart any ministry and a children’s ministry is no exception. The problem is we have come to expect instant success – microwavable programs that reduce the time and effort we have to put in before we can see the results.
There are no short cuts to a lasting ministry. It takes consistent work.
A word of caution in regard to time. As was mentioned earlier, people are far less consistent in their church attendance today than in the past. Because of this, it is difficult to gauge when or how many children will actually attend Sunday School or an event. Some weeks you may have a dozen and at other time you might have none. Do not be alarmed. Do not panic. And above all, do not give up! It seems strange to me, but with all the labor saving devices and technology we have today, I believe people actually have less time for family, hobbies, and serving God than even a couple of decades ago. People always seem to be on their way to somewhere. Understand it for what it is, God is not as high a priority in their lives as He should be. Keep praying. Keep reaching out. Keep preparing for them to be there. The last thing you want to have happen is for children to arrive and you not be prepared for them.
Even when thing are bleak, plan for the future. And when I say future, don’t think next year or the year after that. Look 3, 5, 10, 15 years down the road and start thinking about those needs. (While I’m thinking specifically of children’s ministries, it really applies to all the ministries of the church.) For example, last Fall after much prayer and God’s provision, our church restarted a Junior Youth Group. We have about 15 involved and average 11 in attendance on a weekly basis. They are mix of girls and boys from our church, other churches, and children in the community. Because children don’t stay the same age (they grow up), it won’t be long before we have to split off a Senior Youth Group. If we are to continue to minister to these children, in 5 years or so we’ll need a College and Career group. In 10 years we’ll have to start a couples group. And in 15 years or so we should start filling up the nursery with the children of the girls and boys we are ministering to today. This is huge investment over time, but it is what God has called us to do.
Why invest all this time? Allow me a real-life example. I was involved with a church a number of years ago. More than once I had folks tell me about the good-ol’-days. 35 years before they were busting at the seams, but now they were struggling to keep the doors open. I spoke with several who had been in the church 40 and 50 years, yet, no one could tell me what happened; what caused the decline. I searched the church records. I read decades worth of Business Meeting Minutes. There was nothing. In the end I concluded this was precisely the problem. When the church was bursting at the seams with children, they did nothing to accommodate them. They did nothing to propagate the ministries. They did not see the potential, but only the problems. Consequently, the leadership took a wait-and-see attitude “because attendance might go down.” This became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they did nothing, because they did not work with what they had, because they did not plan for the future, the church began a steady decline.
Sadly, this has been repeated in church after church. As attendance starts to drop off, leadership focuses on ministering to those who are able to support the work financially. Youth programs and ministries fall by the wayside. And the decline begins.