4 Areas of Children’s Ministry Excellence

Kent Shaffer —  February 28, 2009

In children’s ministry, teaching good spiritual truths is the essential foundation. It is the basics. So if your children’s ministry already has the basics covered, here are four areas of children’s ministry excellence that will make you more effective and efficient.

#1 – KNOW (Rules, Culture, & Science)
You need to know your church’s rules for children’s ministry. In other words, you need to know the policies, procedures, and what is expected of you. And of course, you should follow the rules, too. Examples:

  • Your church may have a policy for no food in the classroom other than a preapproved snack. Disregarding that policy may evolve into a situation where a child with allergies eats some food he finds and must be rushed to the hospital.
  • Your church may require all volunteers to wear official uniforms and identification badges. Disregarding that policy may make the ministry seem less professional or secure to some parents. And regularly disregarding it, may create a security vulnerability that entices a child predator (rare but it has happened).

You should also know the cultures of the kids you are responsible for teaching. You should not only know where the cultures are now, but you should know how the cultures are evolving. Discover the answers to these questions:

  • What TV shows, music, and family traditions drive the kids I teach?
  • How do these influences change how these kids behave and think?

And know the science behind how kids learn. It does not matter whether you take care of babies or teach middle school students, there are things you can learn to help you better reach them. Examples:

  • Nursery workers can become better by studying things like the Dunstan Baby Language, the 5 S’s, Baby Signs, or the latest research studies on educating babies. Read more>>
  • Boys interpret the world as objects moving through space. Therefore, a teacher of all boys should move around the room constantly and be that object. But girls work well in circles, facing each other. Using descriptive phrases and lots of color in overhead presentations or on the chalkboard gets girls’ attention. Read more>>

#2 – IMPROVE (Yourself & the Ministry)
All you need to do to improve yourself is push yourself to do a better job than the week before. Always be looking for ways to improve what you do. This month should be better than last month. And this year should be better than last year.

It is also important that you work to improve the children’s ministry as a whole. Create a system for feedback and be sure everyone uses it. The volunteers in the trenches are the ones who best know what is needed, what works, and what does not work.

#3DUPLICATE (Yourself)
Imagine if God suddenly called you to a different role in ministry, would there be a replacement that could instantly do the same job as well or better than you?

If you are a leader, you need to always be “working yourself out of a job” by teaching those you lead how to do what you do. You are duplicating yourself but not cloning yourself. Others need to be able to achieve the same results or better but through their own God-given mix of talents and strengths. Read more>>

#4 – STICKINESS (Lessons & Relationships)
A study by the United States Air Force discovered that we forget 95% of what we hear within 72 hours. So how do we get our lessons to stick?

I believe that as long as you have the basics covered and are teaching quality spiritual truths, adding some “wow” factor to your ministry significantly helps a lesson to stick. Without quality teaching, you are wowing for the sake of “wow,” which is superficial and often fleeting.

I still remember spiritual lessons from my childhood that were taught with the “wow” of throwing darts, flash paper, and great storytelling. You can wow kids by delivering an incredibly creative, engaging, multi-sensory lesson. The goal is to make the lesson stick and be memorable so that when the child is older and needing the lesson, they can be equipped with that spiritual truth

Making your children’s ministry “sticky” does not have to have all the “whiz,” “bang,” and gadgets. One of the greatest opportunities that children’s ministries have is to wow their kids relationally. Even some preschoolers are already hurting from broken families or a lack of love. Go the extra mile to make your kids feel loved. At the very least, when they are teenagers or in college, they think fondly about church and say, “Wow, they really loved me!”

For Discussion:
- What tips or areas of focus would you add to this list?

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

2 responses to 4 Areas of Children’s Ministry Excellence

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing it and reminding us about the importance of excellence in ministry!

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