Beyond Children’s Church

It involves a change of attitude, which comes from small, intentional steps.  That is what I keep telling myself about the attitude of some people in the church toward children.  I have been in churches where it’s actually been said: “Let’s get the kids out of here so it is quiet!”  Sometimes churches brag about having children’s church for the kids, but it is really for the adults.   In my own ministry, I have fought the notion of “keep the cookies in the basement” (which is code for “keep the kids in the basement.”)  If you give a kid a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk, sure, but let’s let them eat among us.   I’ve also heard “children should be busy during worship so they are not bored.”  That drives me crazy!  If we are encountering God in worship, kids will not be bored.

More than children's churchWe must go beyond children’s church!  I often talk with the kids during the sermon or intentionally  share something that will connect with them as well.  But, then again, all of that only comes because I take time to be with the kids relationally.   More adults need to do this! Talk with kids. Have a snowball fight, go fishing, throw a football around — whatever it takes! Show interest in them and remember their names.  It makes what you teach much more meaningful to them.

One of our big shifts has been creating a small group that is for families.  This does not mean we have kids there and they do some sort of craft on their own away from the adults, but we have the kids and adults together the entire time.  We play games together, eat a snack, pray together, and talk about what God is doing in our lives. Recently, we spent time making notes for the shut-ins in our church and have ministered to them through that.   The group teaching is geared for kids, but the adults find the time encouraging for them as well. Their kids are talking about God’s Word with them!  Is this not what the Church is supposed to be?

Perhaps one of the most telling events was our baptism service.  We used a water tank for cattle and set it all up outside. This tank was a nice looking pool, and the day was hot!  Keeping the kids out of the pool was very difficult.  We sought to maintain respect for what baptism is and made sure we exalted God in it.  But once that was over with, it was time to get wet! The kids went in, some of them in their clothes.   This is a part of what makes the Church authentic and inviting for kids.  And, if church isn’t authentic and inviting for kids, they will most certainly check out.  But if we can get them to understand that the Church is them…NOW, then perhaps they will want to be an active part of it.

So, I wonder — are there specific ways your church has tried to connect with children beyond children’s church?

Derek Mansker

Derek Mansker has served the church as pastor for discipleship, youth pastor and in his current church as senior pastor. He is passionate about the church being more engaged in ministry that includes the whole family and has been intentionally challenging the church to see children as more than the church of tomorrow. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and 4 children.

Two Responses to “Beyond Children’s Church”

  1. I love your passion and approach to children ministry. This reminds me a lot about me I am encouraged by your continual support to children and the encouragement that parents and the church need to allow children share along side them in worship service.

    you are wondering:
    — are there specific ways your church has tried to connect with children beyond children’s church?

    in my church we have been planning for a BIBLE PARTY FOR CHILDREN after every three months. We get more children from other churches plus un-churched children who get to hear the message of salvation presented and opportunity to receive Jesus offered.
    Yesterday after service I held a meeting with my fellow teachers to discuss if we could on July invite parents and the entire church to the sunday school service. the reason is we want them to have that experience of being a sunday school student. May be from that hopefully they may open-up to sunday school programmes.
    thank you I hope I can hear more ideas on children ministry from you.
    Thank you and God bless you as you minister to children.

    • Darryl, If you want to e-mail me at macdonaldm @ cmalliance .org. I can better answer some of your questions. Loving your heart as well!

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