Hopefully your church has some form of children’s ministry. Pastor or lay-person lead.
Ever church has different needs. Some churches have only a handful of kids. Some have a hundred. Some fall in between. Some exceed 100.
Each church (at least should) have a missions statement. A vision.
Not all of these ideas will work for everyone.
First you need to pray. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs of your church’s children and parents. Ask Him for a vision to compliment the church’s vision. Ask Him for guidance.
If you are the children’s ministry leader, go to your Pastor and talk the him about your vision.
If you are a parent or church member go to your children’s minister and talk to them.
Some questions to ask:
- What is our vision statement and how can that apply to children’s ministry?
- What are some goals we have for children’s ministry (growing children in the Lord, reaching out to the families of the community, teaching parents about faith at home).
- What are the needs of our church’s body of children?
- What does a typical Sunday in children ministry look like? Sunday school? Children’s church during service?
- How many children do we have in each age group? Do we need more age groups?
- What curriculum will be used? What channels does it need to go through to be approved?
- Are we okay with stepping on some toes if current workers are not ‘on board’ with the changes we are going to make? How will we hand someone not following intrustions?
- Are we committed to making changes for the better?
- Do we have children with special needs or allergies?
Right now we will assume your church has Sunday school before church and an ‘extended care’ type ‘class”.
Shift focus from “extended/child care” and attitude of the workers and leaders from that of a babysitter to teaching the kids about their Heavenly Father.
Maybe a name change would help this. There are all sorts of name you could use for each class…Sunbeams, Rainbows, Cherub Church…
Set up the classes with structure. Babies who are not yet mobile can at least be read a story and sung songs to. Crawlers/toddlers (by toddler I mean, just walking to about 18 months or 2 years) can be read to, play instruments, helped to color and sung to. 18-2 is a tricky time and I would advise playing it by ear. Some kids will be ready for a class structure, some will not. Let’s say we have 2-3 year olds. They can play as a group, play instruments, do object lessons, read stories, sing songs, do action poems/songs, pray, craft (very simple crafts). Here 4 years to 1st grade is a great age range for a children’s church. When they are just learning to read and write, but not well enough to follow along in service. 2nd grade and up can sit in church with a kids bulletin (sample ideas coming soon).
Assign each class a leader. There is nothing more confusing when there is no clear leader that day. No one wants to over step because they don’t know who is in charge and they don’t want anyone upset.
Give each leader at least two helpers. This eliminates the need to constantly break up the class. Better for one helper to be moved if need be than the whole structure of the class thrown off.
Design a class structure, and stick to it. Give each worker a copy so they know what is expected. Get the lesson into the hands of the leader at least a week ahead of time.
Lessons can be as easy as doing the same lesson you did for Sunday school. The kids get excited when they know answers, and it reinforces what they have learned.
Start having the little ‘Crawlers’ have a short story time, music time, and eating snacks at a table (if you must do a snack, with food allergies and parents looking after their kids health (not giving them junk)).. This will make it easier when they “move up”. Some of these little guys will catch on very quickly. Others it may take some time, but again, it is well worth it.
Have a list of Rules, Policies and Procedures to give to all new workers and parents so they know what is expected.
Increase communication. It is vital for workers to know if any child in the class they are coming into have any allergies, “special needs” or instructions. Allergies should be clearly marked on the child’s name tag. If a child is a “special needs” child, if would be very helpful to know this. Special instructions from parents will help give us the parent’s expectations (or say for instance, the child has been in trouble at day care for hitting, it is helpful to know to keep an eye out for it).
Implement a sick-child/worker policy.
Realize that this will take commitment! I’ve heard it said it takes are least three weeks to get into some sort of a rhythm. At least. This will only work if everyone is on board and willing to stick to the plan, no matter how hard it gets trying to teach a class of 2-3 year olds to sit and listen or do things with the group instead of playing whatever they want, when they want. It will take some adjustment, but it is well worth it.
Consider having a training day at least once a year (ideally 4 times) or so for people who are interested in children’s ministry and as a refresher for workers. It should be a requirement. The other option is having new leaders train with a current leader for a while and making sure the leaders are following the plan.