How To Start a Children’s Ministry

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9 Steps to Launching a Kids Program at Your Church

Starting a children’s ministry from scratch can be a big challenge. You have to navigate parental expectations, curriculum options, and hundreds of little questions about how things should work. For this discussion, I’m assuming you are at a smaller church with no paid children’s ministry staff.

There is no one ‘right way’ to do children’s church. In fact, what works for your ministry this year will need adjustment next year. Like most ministry programs, kids church is always a working experiment.

This article is a road map to help you get started. I’ve broken down the process into 9 manageable steps to bring clarity. In reality, several of these steps overlap and require tweaking over time. At the end of this post I’ve also linked a few more articles about starting a kids church. If you need more help, feel free to ask your specific questions in our forums about children’s church.

1. Gather a Leadership Team

Having the right people in place from the beginning is essential. I would include key people who would lead the program, interested parents, and your pastor. This leadership team is the group that will direct the program and make the major decisions to get the program started.

2. Determine the Age Group

You need to ask, “What aged-groups of children will participate in this program?” Churches vary widely in this respect. Many kids church programs cap the age around 3rd grade. Others extend through the end of elementary school. This largely depends on your pastor’s opinion about who can benefit from the preaching in his adult worship service. You also need to determine where the preschoolers will go. Some churches have a class just for them during church, while others include then in children’s chuch.

3. Determine the Format

There are several important issues to be decided about the format. Will the kids attend a portion of the adult service and then be dismissed? Some churches have individual classes more like a second Sunday School period. Others have a single gathering where children sing worship songs and learn in something like a VBS worship rally. Often this comes down to preference and space available. I personally like where kids worship with their families, then come back for age-appropriate Bible teaching in a large group. When possible, we finish our time in smaller age-graded groups for prayer & discussion.

4. Choose Curriculum for Children’s Church

Once the format and age-range is settled, you can begin to choose curriculum. Most major Christian Education publishers have a curriculum for Children’s Church. Many will include worship music on CD or DVD. If you budget is tight you can use our free Bible lessons or learn how to build your own Bible teaching plan.

5. Establish Discipline & Safety Guidelines

To begin, you will need to adopt some basic policies for safety and behavior management. If you are just starting out, begin with a simple one-page document. Brainstorm with your leadership team and create a working draft. Post it in your room and make sure all the weekly children’s church follow these guides. You might find my article on Children’s Ministry Safety & Security helpful.

6. Plan the Order of Service

Decide the basic elements and general order you will follow. You can put this on a poster board in your children’s church area so the children will know what to expect. This can add consistency if you have multiple volunteer leaders. Some elements to include: Call to Worship (short bible reading), Prayer, Worship music, Bible lesson, discussion, flexible closing activities (craft, games, snacks, bible trivia). You can see some good examples on the Sojourn Kids blog.

7. Recruit and Train Volunteers

Now you’re ready to identify church members to become leaders in your program. Many churches work out a four-week volunteer rotation schedule for kids church. To begin, ask people who have served in other children’s ministry programs. If possible, mix in new recruits with your long-time workers for in-ministry training. You might also read this post about finding kids ministry volunteers.

8. Communicate the Program to the Church

It’s important to let the church and parents know about the program several weeks in advance. This is especially true if your congregation has never had a kids church. If you are in a small church, talk to all the affected parents one-on-one. Be aware of any concerns that parents raise and ensure then the program is optional for each family. You can read my post about communication in kids ministry.

9. Evaluate with the Leadership Team

Once you are a few weeks into the program, meet with the leadership team to re-evaluate. Walk through all elements of your plan and talk about what is working and not. Brainstorm ways to improve the program.

I hope this article has given you a solid place to start. You can leave a message below if you want to share your suggestions for starting a children’s church. For more help, be sure to read our advice and guide for new children’s ministers.


  1. says

    Great and helpful information. We are ready to launch our children’s ministry, and after having “child care” available for a while now, this transition to actual children’s ministry and teaching will need a lot of structure and support. Your tips are a wealth of knowledge and info – God bless you and your efforts!

  2. says

    A lot of helpful tips here for establishing a new children’s ministry. Solid points to follow for our church which does not have any sort of kids ministry during the service. Thanks for posting!

  3. lola says

    Thanks Tony for your insights. God bless your ministry. Will definitely be using a lot of your advice.

  4. Monica Ramos says

    Thanks a lot for helping the ministry with children. I’ll follow your suggestion.Pray for us.And God bless you very much.

  5. Jonalyn N. Fulguerinas says

    I’m so grateful I’ve come to this page. Thank you for this great tips. Our church has been planning to do kids worship. We have more children population than adult. We have difficulty in letting them seat beside their parents and behave during worship. Our pastor and church leaders decided to do separate worship for them. Thank you sharing us ideas on how to do it. God Bless your ministry.

  6. Rachel Gray says

    This is wonderful! Simple and straight to the point. Great articles and links. My husband and I are starting a church and I am in charge of the childrens ministry. This will be a great help to me and our group here. Thank you!

  7. Celina says

    Thank you! I come from a small church. My fellow teachers and I have been looking for some guidance. Your article has really helped us take a step in the right direction. God Bless! =D

  8. Mt Zion Carr Nation Ministries says

    We are a growing church in the heart of Durban South Africa. We get more than 80 children that come to our church every sunday. Some come from child headed homes. We’ve had a difficult time trying to establish childrens ministry, since the children do not have their own space. At times we worship on the entrance steps of the mall. So we would like to thank yo for this simple breakdown of points. We have found them user friendly,and cannot wait to meet up this afternoon to discuss them with the team. We thank yo and we pray that our Lord Jesus bless you abundantly. Amen

  9. Liana says

    Thanks bunches and bunches! I am a year and a half walking with the Lord, and have been lead to be a childrens pastor here in Pampa Texas! I know God will give me all I need and teach me as I go.

  10. Esther Akpan says

    Grateful I was able to come across this page. My husband and I are called to start a ministry and I need all the information I can get.

  11. Aneela Dilshad says

    Greeting in Jesus name. I’m heartly thankfull to u for your good response answer. this is such a very effective teaching for the child ministry. there is the calling of jesus child ministry on me and I have a vision of a large numbers of children will learn about Jesus.Plz pray for this and send me yr ans on my e.mail add and keep in touch through this way. thank you. may God bless your ministry.

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