In just a few weeks or months, you’ve detected a subtle shift in kids’ attitudes, a lower-than-usual attendance, a lack of excitement amongst your volunteers. Of course, this kind of ebb and flow can occur naturally in ministry but sometimes a downturn may have a real, substantive cause.
Having served in children’s ministry for over fifteen years, I’m certainly not here to assign blame to anyone. I’ve learned all about these four ministry “underminers” all on my own. Perhaps my experience can help you avoid these potential roadblocks.
1. Broken promises: You promise a church movie night but the projector dies. You talk about hosting a pool party, within kids’ earshot, but it never comes to fruition. You, or another leader in your ministry, promised a special treat but it got left behind or forgotten. As adults, we know changes in the schedule happens, surprises occur, but that doesn’t lessen a child’s disappointment. When you promise to host an event, perform a task, bring a special snack or play a certain game, do it. It’s always good to teach kids that only God keeps all His promises and that grown ups make mistakes but keeping your word goes a long way with kids, parents and volunteers.
I’ve learned to never, ever brainstorm ideas with kids. They have no yellow light, just red or green. If you suggest a thing, kids believe it will happen.
2. Discontinued programs: Sometimes programs have to fade away because of a general lack of interest, costs etc. However, before you take an axe to a seemingly small item, think about it. About a year ago, I started a “Kid of the Week” program. Our little program recognized one child a week that displayed the Golden Rule during kids’ church. After our attendance slowed for a while, I felt like the program became a bit redundant. What’s the point of recognizing the same few kids over and over again? The week I deleted the program from the newsletter, I had more questions about the program than I did all the weeks before. Kids were quietly watching, doing their best to achieve recognition for following the Golden Rule. We put the program back in.
3. An unclear vision: I love it when new volunteers enter the ministry. They have so much excitement but often they don’t have a clear vision of where we are headed. If they’ve worked in other ministries previously, that can be a problem. Have a clear vision, share it often and succinctly. Keep the team on the same page.
4. Unprepared leaders: I know, it’s hard to believe the queen of preparedness, (moi) would have an off week but it happens. You come to class without a craft, a lesson that’s too brief or an activity that kids don’t enjoy. The real reason for this underminer? I didn’t prepare properly. I grabbed something on the fly and the kids knew it. Don’t make this mistake. Pick one day, or afternoon, a week to work on your lesson. If possible, don’t make it the day before church.
You can regain momentum by banishing these four underminers!
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