Podcast: Important Children's Ministry (2019 Statistics)

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Nick Blevins just released our podcast conversation talking about the latest children’s ministry statistics and what that means for local churches. We talk about how kids are coming to Christ and how families are essential at every step of that process. You can also download our full 33-page special report (PDF).

importance of children's ministry
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Transcript: Importance of Children’s Ministry

Introduction: Welcome to the Nick Blevins family ministry podcast. Our goal is to help you maximize your church’s potential. You’ll hear from top leaders in children’s student and family ministry about the principles and practices they use. Now here’s your host, Nick Blevins.

Nick: Hey, welcome to episode one 65 of the podcast. In this episode I talk with Tony Kummer and Tony runs one of the most popular, most visited children’s ministry websites out there. It’s ministry to children.com it’s actually a ministry hyphen to hyphen children.com so hyphens in between each word there, but we were talking a little bit offline about just how popular that site is. I mean, so many visits every year, millions of people, millions of visits every year to that site. And what we talk about in this interview is a survey that Tony did through his site. So obviously most of his readers are children’s ministry leaders, but the survey was asking them about their own faith development as kids, you know, if they were part of a church growing up or if they weren’t like, what did that look like? What was the most important part of their faith in their growth and all of that.

Nick: And then it’s interesting to see the results and I wonder what you’d say if you know you’d taken that survey. So we kind of walked through some of those results. What were the big things that stand out and I thought that was a pretty insightful interview. Some of it makes total sense, you know, it wouldn’t surprise you at all, but I think as I, as we had the conversation, I thought this is all a great reminder. Now before we jump into that interview, just want to say if you lead staff at your church with ministry boosts, we’re piloting something this fall, it’s not public. But if you lead staff and you’re interested in being a part of it, email me, nick@nickblevins.com I’ll let you know about it might be something you’re interested in and we’ll probably talk about it publicly after the turn of the year. But if you do lead staff, email me, I’d love to let you know about that. As usual, you can get all the links and notes and all that in the show notes at Nick Eleven’s dot com slash episode one six five but let’s go ahead now and jump into my conversation with Tony Kummer about Kidman survey insights from his latest survey today. We have 200 creamer on the podcast. Welcome Tony.

Tony: Hey Nick. Thanks for having me.

Nick: Yeah, well, uh, how about before we jump in, introduce yourself to us a little bit. I think a lot of children’s ministry leaders who are listening be familiar with your website, but maybe not as much with you. So tell us a little about yourself and then the website. We’ll talk more about that as well.

Tony: Great. Well, uh, as you just said, my name is Tony Kummer. I’m with ministry to children.com and this is a website. It kind of started as my personal blog back in, uh, 2007 and, uh, what was happening is I just started church. I started working at a church as a children’s pastor and this smaller congregation, this was, um, you know, Facebook wasn’t really a big deal yet. Um, a lot of the other things didn’t work, didn’t exist, you know, like they do now. So I just, I felt isolated out of this church, so I was just a, you know, connecting through a blog like a lot of people were doing back then. Well, uh, that began to grow. I started posting some lesson plans I was doing in children’s church and stuff and, um, it started growing and I got some other people to come help me with it.

Tony: And over time it became this really big website for a children’s ministry. And, um, you know, I think it’s just God’s blessing. It’s been a way for me and some of the other people on our team to just provide free resources for anyone around the world who just needs help with children’s ministry. So, um, it’s not a big publishing company. It’s not a big, um, curriculum producer or anything else. It’s just a website where people can get free help for their ministry. So, um, that’s where a lot of people know me then. Then I spent about four years doing mission work in Haiti. And, uh, so that’s kind of a different flavor. I can speak Haitian Creole. Um, so if you want some of that, just let me know. And, uh, and uh, that, that’s, that’s about me in a nutshell.

Nick: That’s great. And the site is a, I mean, super popular. We were talking before that you said it’s gotten a little more focused and so traffic has gone down and yet it’s five or 6 million views a year, which is not down for most sites. You know what I mean? That’s, that’s a really popular site.

Tony: Yeah. I mean, a lot of people out there, and I feel like our, our core readers are just people who are, who are doing children’s ministry and they may have a curriculum already or they may just be starting from scratch and they just need a little extra idea. So they’re, uh, they’re landing on our site for, um, you know, activities to go along with their Sunday school lesson, or we’ve got, uh, a lady out of Louisville, Kentucky who does amazing, uh, coloring pages. They’re just these original illustrations, really. Uh, she’s a visual artist, so she does a great job, you know, stuff like that. People drop in and they just get the help they need. And, uh, it’s, it’s been, uh, it’s been a good tool and the, and I’m constantly hearing back from people how it’s just making their ministry a little easier. It’s taking some of the friction out of what they do. And that’s, that’s really what, you know, I feel like our role is in that website is to, is to, you know, liberate people from some of those hassles so they can just, you know, love the kids and do, do the work God’s called them to do.

Nick: Yeah. And on the site, you know, one of the things that is newly post is, I guess a couple of weeks ago is a survey results. You’d done new children’s ministry statistics. Tell us about that survey, why you conducted, how it came together, and then we’ll dive into some of the findings.

Tony: Sure. Nick. Uh, so when I get back into when I got into children’s ministry, um, one of the things, uh, and I think maybe Carl bash and I’ll give him credit for this. Carl was kind of a, a mentor, a distance for me cause I was on kidology all the time, just learning everything I could from Carl. And, uh, one of the things that always impressed me as the, the percentage of people who are adults in the church who came to Christ as a child. And, um, those statistics have been passed around. Um, you know, youth ministers use them, children’s ministers use them. Um, and to me it just seems like such a clear call, Hey, we need to invest in next generation ministries. And so what we did is we said, Hey, let’s see if we can replicate those results with our own readers.

Tony: So we started doing some surveys on our website and we ended up reaching out to about 400 different, uh, children’s ministry leaders who, who are in our website responded to these long surveys. And we did some followup questions with a lot of those. And then I also went out and we kinda did a, a full research project and found like all of the Barnum statistics, all the Lifeway research, um, all of the different groups who have have released the same kind of information. And we kind of compiled all this together and said, okay, this is 2019, you know, what is the state of children’s ministry now? Is this a, is this still the case as it used to be? How are things changing and where did we go from here? So that was kind of my idea was just to look at, um, you know, the main question is how are kids coming to Christ? And, but within that, how our children’s ministry is a part of that is kind of the secondary question.

Nick: And how, and why did you conduct it mainly through your site? I think it says there’s 400 churches that took, took part in, is that the case?

Tony: Yeah, 400 different, uh, children’s ministry leaders. And they were reached out through our site, through our Facebook, through a couple other, uh, groups that shared, um, on their, you know, these different children’s ministry groups on Facebook shared amongst themselves and kind of pointed people to the same surveys. Um, so we got a, we got a kind of a big sample size. I’m not sure, I’m not the pro statistician, so I don’t know if our, if our, uh, if our sample size is big enough to, you know, to overturn any of the others. But what we found is a lot of our things were exactly what Barnard was finding exactly what Lifeway research was finding. So the, you know, the questions that we asked that were the same as theirs, the results were lining up. And so we felt pretty good on some of our other questions that we may have took a little different angle. I was like, you know, if, if our, if our sample size is valid on these questions, then we’re probably valid on some of the others too.

Nick: Sure. Yeah. And I saw a lot of them were, you know, basically reveal the same things we’ve heard in other reports. So let’s talk about the findings. You, you kind of list, there’s five key findings. Uh, what are those five key findings? And then we can kind of navigate our way through some of them.

Tony: Sure. Nick. So what happened is, I mean, I’m looking at all this stuff. I’ve got a headache for two or three weeks in a row trying to try to just sort out and say, now what, what about this is important for what we’re doing ministry in the church. And the five key findings that I took away from this is, number one, childhood is when most people find Jesus. This is a, if you talk to the people who are adult Christians now, the most normal experience for them is coming to Christ when they were children. So that was the first finding. The second finding is that of those people, parents overwhelmingly had the most impact, most direct impact on how children come to Christ. The third one, a children’s ministry matters. We still saw, despite the overwhelming importance of parents, um, children’s ministry was over and over mentioned as a key in how people came to Christ, whether they were in Sunday school or VBS or church camp.

Tony: All the things that local churches are doing to reach kids. Those are, um, the, the adult Christians are self reporting that stuff as important in their faith journey. Um, number four, we saw that, um, when we’re talking to, and this kind of got into, you know, who is doing children’s ministry now? Um, the, the, the people who are doing children’s ministry now, overwhelmingly they’re responding that the reason they do children’s ministry is because Jesus loves kids. And then the last one is that we need one another. So this goes back to who’s dealing in children’s ministry now. And the, the fact that, you know, two thirds of people doing church ministry are unpaid volunteers. So you know, these people, you know, they’re not coming through Bible college, they’re not coming through seminary. They’re, they’re just, um, you know, they’re doing the work that God’s put in front of them and they need community. They’re reaching out for that all the time online especially. So those are kind of the five big ideas we identified. But under those there’s lots of lots of interesting little details and we can talk about this, uh, as, as much time as we have Nick.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. So, so, uh, before we get into that too, just to clarify, you surveyed people mostly through your site and through those channels, social media. So their PR, they’re mostly adults who are in churches. Two thirds of them are volunteers leading probably a children’s ministry, I guess the other third or staff or the, or do you think they’re all children’s ministry, you know, staff or volunteers?

Tony: Um, yeah, let me, I can, I can scroll down and I actually, we ask them, you know, we ask them about that. We ask them what their role is, um, when I’m at [inaudible]

Nick: various various ages and all that. But like, that’s who the audience was completing the survey. So we’re looking at some Christians who are now leading in children’s ministry, most of them, and, and then what their experience was, you know, as kids.

Tony: Yeah. And that’s what we were looking at. We were trying to see, you know, among the, among the people leading children’s ministry today, what was their experience coming to Christ? How does that line up with the broader surveys from, from Barna and Lifeway research and what, what can a, you know, the people that are doing children’s ministry right now, what, what can their experience, and we ask them a lot of questions about how they are leading kids to Christ and how can we learn from that. So yeah, we had, we had overwhelmingly, um, unpaid volunteers and the local church. Then we did have a lot of part time staff. We had full time staff, we had, uh, international mission workers. Uh, we had homeschoolers, homeschool moms in there. We had a Christian school teachers. We had some public school teachers who come to our site for encouragement, stuff like that. So, but overwhelmingly, um, you’re, you’re looking at Sunday school teachers or, uh, children’s ministry directors, um, in, in different capacities.

Nick: Yeah. And that, number one, finding childhood is when most people find Jesus of course, supports, you know, what you’ve seen elsewhere. And you link some of those studies in here, your survey fan, it was two thirds I think before 18 and 43% before age 12. Um, what do you, I mean, just you know, when you saw that it probably didn’t surprise you. Cause again, it just supports what we’ve seen. You write a little bit about what happens when we miss that window, but for church leaders, what do you think? What do you think, you know, is there a key takeaway with that? Okay, yeah, we know that’s true and we probably on that for a long time. But you know, w what should we be doing about that?

Tony: Yeah, I mean I think, I think there’s two angles to go with this. One. When a, when I was serving on church staff, I always saw this as a huge opportunity and also as a, as a real sign of our, of our churches failure too. Because, um, if the only people who are the only people who are hearing the gospel are the kids that are coming to church, then your, your, your churches is, has siloed itself in some way. You know, if you’re not, if you’re not reaching out to the broader community, if it’s just your own kids, you’re reaching, then, then something’s gone wrong. And the church is outreach and, uh, there’s a lot of different theories for that. But that was, that was my first takeaway is like, wow, okay, so we’re, we’re not reaching other people. That’s bad. That’s really bad because, um, historically, you know, all the great revivals reached a broad spectrum of society.

Tony: You know, we’re kind of in a maintenance generation where one generation will teach, most of their kids will come to Christ, not all of them. And then out of those, they’ll grow up. If they stick to church, eh, most of their kids will come to Christ. So you’ll see that the church is diminishing generationally. And this is what’s happening in a, across a lot of denominations. You see a lot of the Southern Baptist, uh, that’s my old denomination. So, you know, I pay attention to their stuff, but that’s what, you know, the generational passing on of the faith, you know, that Baton gets dropped about two thirds of the time anyway. And then people are having less kids and then, um, you know, the, the unchurched population grows and nobody’s touching that. Nobody’s penetrating that, that unchurched population. So that was one of the things I was like, well, this is a real challenge to our, our churches to get real about, you know, we say we’re, we’re say we’re doing evangelism, but where’s the fruit?

Tony: So that’s one. Um, the other thing is, uh, it does, it does highlight, you know, there’s a developmental and a relational reason why kids come to Christ like this. You know, what, what more natural way to, to choose your direction in life than to see your mom and dad are choosing this direction for their life. And you’re going to follow in that and you see this with Christian families and you see this with families with dysfunction. If, I don’t know if you’ve done any research into, um, you know, some of the, some of the social problems with, with, um, with substance abuse and all this, but you know, alcoholism is handed down in the family just as just as much as religion can be handed down in the family. You know, uh, child abuse unfortunately is repeated when those children grow up. Uh, not always, but that’s, it’s more than not.

Tony: So if you look into stuff like that, you say, okay, well it’s really normal that kids are going to pattern their lives after their parents and if their parents are, uh, I think when we reached out to Sam Lewis, he gave a great quote about how if parents are authentically, you know, living a life, a gospel life in their home, you know, they’re, they’re, you know, repenting in front of their children, Hey, I’m sorry about me being grouchy this morning because you know, your dad’s a sinner too. And when your dad’s, um, not had enough coffee, he gets selfish and he takes it out on you. I’m sorry, I repent. You know, if you’re doing stuff like that with your kids, they’re like, Whoa, this is, this is different, you know. So if you’re living a gospel life and your home, you know, you would say, okay, it’s probably normal that your kids are going to follow in that too.

Tony: So, I mean there’s a, there’s a developmental relational reason that kids are coming to Christ from their parents, but also there’s a, a huge warning that the church is not reaching outsiders, at least not in, not in any numbers significant. And you look at, um, I linked this in the page, but George Barna has looked back at every generation of parents, every generation since world war II. And they’ve got, they all got these fancy, cool names, right? So they can sell more books. But, uh, each generation of parents, I’m calling him parents, each generation, um, has less church attendance, less church membership, less religious identity, and then those people that their children have less, less, less the next generation, less, less, less. So you can see it’s a function of way of American society becoming, you’re less religious. And uh, if that’s happened, you know, for 70 years now since they’ve been doing these studies, it tells you the church for 70 years has been largely ineffective of breaking outside of its own, uh, of its own walls.

Nick: Yeah. And I don’t know, I don’t know if this came from an actual study or if this was Tim Keller just throwing out his opinion. But our church as a is a, is a church plant that’s now 13 years old. But we refer a lot to a stat that he would say where you know, churches under 10 years old, you know, like six out of 10 new people that go there are probably not coming from another church. You know what I mean? Like it’s not just transfer growth for transfer, six are new, but then older than 10 years, it’s one or two out of 10 are not coming from the church, which means 80 to 90% of what they’re reaching or just other Christians. And I would say from the gut that’s like that sounds right. So I know for us, one thing we do, we do a survey every other year and some of the other parts of the survey change, but the core is the same.

Nick: And it’s to ask that question, what’s your church experience? And you have to define it. I mean that’s one of the key things that we learned is you can’t just generally ask about previous church experience. So we, we ask a few specific questions and what we’re really trying to get as get at is have you been a part of a church regularly in the past? You know, that’s really what we’re asking and we’ll still get, we still get five five to six out of 10 who are not a 50 to 60% who are not, even though we’re older than 10 years. But what I find is most churches aren’t asking that question one like they don’t know. They have no idea. You know, what percentage they’re reaching and, and sure. I think by and large, most churches, it’s not a high number. It’s like you’re saying it’s, it’s 10 20% by and large, they’re not reaching people who are not apart of any church, whether they’re kids or they’re adults.

Nick: And that is a big deal. That is a big deal of reason. A lot of churches die every year, but it’s also what, why I get excited about the church planting growth we’ve seen in the last 10, 20 years because those churches, do you know what I mean? They do. And there’s more starting, which is, which is just awesome. But you mentioned parents and that’s the kind of the number two point parents and family have the most impact. Again, I think everybody’s like, yeah. You know what I mean? Like we believe that. But here’s a couple of interesting points in years, 50% of people, right said that parents were named as top influence in helping them come to Christ and then it dropped down. Right? What was the next one? 28%.

Tony: Yeah. Yeah. So you get, um, so parents, you know, parents that that would make sense. And then from there you go down, you get church ministry leaders, you get, uh, Christian friends, which is another relationship thing. You get other family members in there at 24%. Um, you kind of get a plurality of different things after that. But when you, when you, when you just, when you break that down, you say, okay, as a parent, uh, parents, they choose where you go to church. So even, even the, even the people who are saying their, their children’s ministry was a big factor. Well, who took them there? Well, unless they’re on the church bus, which some churches still run buses, a lot of times it’s the parents or grandparents taking him to church. Um, there are Christian friends, well, where are they meeting their Christian friends at the church their parents took them to at the small group, at their church, small group where other families come over and the parents are having their Bible study and these Christian friends are playing Fortnite together. You know, it all, it all kind of works together, you know, so it’s, it’s of course artificial to separate and just, you know, S so who, who was helping you come to Christ? But at the same time, I think it all highlights that, you know, parents, um, Hey, this is what we do. This is what we’re supposed to be doing. This is the way God designed it. So, um, it’s, it’s on us.

Nick: Now for church leaders, again, this is not new for most people, I think. We think, yeah. I mean the parents are gonna work through parents. Partnering with parents is one of the top things I know children’s ministry leaders want to talk about. But from, you know, doing the survey and you wrote some thoughts in the post about this that we’ll share in the notes. Uh, but what, what would you say to church leaders? Hey, given this, here’s some things to think about, here’s some things to do.

Tony: Yeah, I mean, I think, I think it’s, uh, it’s, it’s something that everyone wants to talk about it, but no one really, it’s hard to put it into concrete. You know, it’s, I can play in a VBS, you know, I can, I can get me a spreadsheet, I can get me some fliers. Boom. I can put together a VBS that’s concrete and I can do that. But how do I measure the effectiveness of how many parents I’ve resourced and equipped? You know, you can measure, you know, you can go old school, you can be like reformed pastoral school and you can say, okay, I’m going to go have a one on one mentoring, meeting with parents every week. You know, I’m going to create this structure where all the parents mentor other parents and everybody’s equipped. Um, yeah, I mean I think, I think it is a mystery somewhat.

Tony: And I think, um, there was a, there’s a survey linked here and it, I forget where it came from, but I think Trev wax link to it. Um, and there was a huge survey on what actually, um, a successful, they looked at parents who have successfully passed on their faith to the next generation. So they, they waited to kids were like, uh, mid twenties or out of college and then they, they backtracked and took research with them and their parents and said, okay, what, what actually happened in your family that, um, what actually happened in your family, um, that made the faith stick? You know, it wasn’t, you just didn’t say a prayer what actually happened. And the thing, the thing that that worked, uh, reading the Bible several times a week. Okay. So, Hey, Bible bedtime story right there. You know, that’s not, that’s not earth shattering.

Tony: You know, that’s, that’s good for literacy. I think a lot of parents need to do this, uh, taking part in a service project or church mission trip as a family. So it wasn’t just, um, church as something we consume as a family. It’s a, it’s an entertainment experience we consume. No church was a mission that we participated in as a family. Um, sharing their faith with unbelievers. So young people who were led at an early age through some mission trips or whatever, they were actually active in sharing their faith that made their faith stick or that was correlated. Sorry. I, you know, with all these statistics of it, it’s so easy to say that that caused this, but you know, that’s associated with statistically, um, related, may just be, may just be, you know, the asking for, uh, this is the one that always gets me because I’m one of those parents and I, I do this probably too much, but asking forgiveness when they messed up his parents.

Tony: So when your parent repents to the child and says, look, I blew it. What I did was selfish and will you forgive me when you say that to a child? The child’s like, what that strict, um, you don’t get that. You know, you don’t get that at, you don’t get that anywhere else except from a gospel changed heart, uh, encouraging their child’s unique talents. Um, here’s one, and this, this doesn’t seem like, you know, taking annual family vacations, you know, just the act of, of an annual family vacation that somehow strengthen that family unit. And, um, it’s, uh, Oh, um,

Nick: I guess making memories together. I mean that, that’s something I think about, you know, I think about with my kids, but I think about when I was a kid, I could see just the how that helps, you know, strengthen and form those memories.

Tony: Yeah. And, and I remember when I grew up, um, you know, I, every, every child is different, you know, behind, behind closed doors. You, you, me, it looks like a beautiful family. They’re a beautiful family at church on Sunday morning. But what happens when they go home? Does everybody scatter to their devices? You know, kids are on Fortnite, mom’s on Netflix, dad’s in the garage or dad’s on Fortnite. I don’t know, you know, what’s happening in the family? Is there actually, is the family investing in one another? Are they living together? I mean, are they doing life? And uh, you could say the same thing about lots of marriages too. You know, everything looks great, but behind the scenes are they really investing in one another? So maybe vacations are just part of that, that bigger, Hey, we’re a family, we’re going to do this together kind of thing.

Tony: A two more, two more on this list cause I just, I don’t want to leave them off cause I got through most of the others attending church that teaches, uh, that emphasize it with the Bible teaches okay. Attending a Bible church and then last teaching their children to tie. And I think that one, um, that one may scratch some people the wrong way, but I mean if you’re talking about, uh, proving your faith is real to your kids, your kids know about money. A lot of kids know about money too young. But if they see, wow, dad’s writing a fat check every week at church, you know, and then we go out to eat or dad doesn’t write any check and then we go out to eat, you know, kids draw conclusions. So, and I think those conclusions are gonna influence them in a lot of ways.

Nick: Yeah. And if I mean like, you know where your treasure is, your heart is also, if you want kids to put their heart there and it makes sense that you put your treasure there and you teach them to put your treasure there. That that totally makes sense. Now though, the last two points are like big insights from the survey we serve because Jesus loves kids. Which was interesting. I thought there was a chance people would say, well, you know, we serve, I serve in children’s ministry because people did that for me. You know what I mean? Like, which would be fine. That’s a good motivation. But eh, obviously this is a better motivation. So that, that, that was interesting and we need one another, uh, to, you know, final insights there. What would you add for those?

Tony: Um, I was surprised, you know, I, I know everybody says that’s like the perfect tee shirt. You know, I think I’ve seen it at different conferences that, you know, we serve because Jesus loves kids, you know, stuff like that. And may be a tagline for some curriculum out there. I don’t even know. But you know, that’s the, the overwhelming. Um, I don’t think I had any responses that got up to 86%. So that really was encouraging to me to see, you know, for all the [inaudible], for all the things that could be going right or wrong in these ministries. I think the people that are doing children’s ministry, um, overwhelmingly, you know, their heart is focused on that one thing. You know, I’m here because Jesus loves these kids. You know, some of them said yes, the pastor was depending on them. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Tony: I’m here because I’m serving my church. That’s a great reason to, a 23% said, I’m here because I was a, I was saved as a child and I think I’ve got to pay it forward. Hey, those are all beautiful reasons. But to say 86%, I mean, the primary thing that Jesus loves these kids, I mean, that’s a beautiful, that’s a beautiful to reason to wake up on Sunday morning. You know, that’s a beautiful reason to, you know, Polish off your lesson on Saturday night because these kids, uh, these are God’s kids and he’s put them in your life and he’s given you this precious moment to express his love and care for them through, through your ministry or through your parenting. Um, I think that’s beautiful. So, uh, the last one you said, Oh yeah, we need one another. And this was kind of a generalization and this is where, um, this is where I kind of deviate from a strict researcher because you know, this is, this is my conclusion.

Tony: I, I don’t know how I can have, how can get this in a survey, but you know, two thirds of the other readers are unpaid volunteers and 65% of them said they’re depending on the internet for ideas and encouragement. So that means, um, when you’re out there and a small church or even on a big staff and you’re kind of feeling alone in ministry, um, you’re not, I mean, there’s all these other people out there who are in the same situation, same challenges. They’re on all these different groups. On Facebook. Um, there are all these different websites and blog. They’re listening to the same podcasts. People are out there wanting connection and a help in this ministry. So I say, Hey, we need one another if we’re going to do this. You know, we didn’t get, we didn’t all go to seminary. We don’t all have, you know, $200,000 budgets for curriculum and, and decoration. So, you know, we’ve got to learn from each other and yeah.

Nick: Yeah. And I think overall people in ministry, volunteer or staff need to be connected more.

Tony: Yeah. Yeah. And

Nick: cause like if you’re saying, I mean it’s great to search online for ideas. Who doesn’t do that? I do that. That’s a lot of what your site provides, right? You’re practical help for people that are searching, but the community is what they need even more and then they can give you other ideas from that. You know, like now if I didn’t have the connection, I would only be able to search online. But having, being connected to other people, I can even think about, Hey, let me go ask Kevin what he’s doing here. Has he ever faced this, you know what I mean? Let me, let me call Nina and see if this is something she’s ever dealt with. Maybe she’s even created something that I can steal and you know, do we can implement like it the community helps it relationally and you know, every other way, but also with the ideas.

Tony: And that was, that was something that really made a difference early on for me. I don’t know. I don’t know where I got this idea. Maybe children’s ministry magazine. They’ve given me so many great ideas over the years. Um, but early on I read an article somewhere that said, Hey, if you’re new in ministry, find, find 10 ministry peers or mentors and just have them on a phone list or an email list and you know, cultivate those relationships because you need this community. You need, you need ideas, you need encouragement. Um, a new situation comes up. You’re like, Whoa, I’ve never had this. I didn’t know this could happen. You know, you have somebody to reach out to. And now that was before Facebook and all that. But I still think, you know, Facebook is kind of a broad crowd. You know, you, you know, you can meet people on Facebook, get ideas, but you know, those people you meet at conferences, those people you meet.

Tony: Um, even some of the denominational trainings, you can meet people and you know, you build that, um, what do they call it now? It’s not a Rolodex, it’s not a black book. What do you, what do you, iPhone. iPhone. He’s called this stuff contact book. Yeah. Get those contact cards, zap those phones, and have this, this is, you know, just say, Hey, I’m, I’m new to ministry. I, I think you know what you’re doing. Or at least you’re fooling me so far. Can I get your contact if I never, if I never need to, you know, bounce an idea off you. Nobody’s gonna refuse that. Nobody’s gonna refuse that. So that’s something that’s, I think is really essential.

Nick: Yeah. And then in the, uh, and I’ll let you know, we’ll direct people to the page on your site that has all this information, but you people had some open ended responses. Um, like two questions you just ask and then they could share whatever and they were, if you’re in your ministry, what one thing is most effective in helping kids come to Christ? And it looks like there’s 38 different responses there. And in your ministry, what does one thing, what one thing is the biggest barrier when helping kids come to Christ and get 60 responses there? So I’ll encourage people to go check those out and see, you know, might spark an idea or something or maybe you realize, Hey, I’m not alone with the barrier. I have that too. I noticed earlier there was the question about financial support and I thought it was a kind of a positive attitude where most, you know, over half the people said they’re trying, but resources are limited. So in other words, yeah, not so great in financial support, but I know they’re trying. It’s not because, you know, very few people said no like negative, very negative about, you know, the financial support. It was like 8% or something like that. So, again, that’s just something where it’s, it’s probably not a surprise. A lot of leaders can relate to that. But I’d encourage people to go to check out the open ended responses and see if that sparks an idea.

Tony: Yeah, those, I think there, that was, to me, that was one of the most enjoyable parts of the project cause we had, we had much more than those, but we tried to kind of eliminate some duplicate ones just because we didn’t want it to be, you know, just open-ended everything. We just didn’t want to dump everything. But, um, even with what works, I mean, a lot of it came back to relationships, which I’m a guy, I’ve just started reading his blog a lot. David Rousch. Um, he, uh, he, he just hammers on relationships the whole time. And he, I even shared a guest post the other week on the blog and he said, he said, you know, play time is probably the most important thing you’re doing in your children’s church. And I said, what? Play time. Aren’t we here to teach the Bible God’s word? But then you read the article, he says, look, you know, if, if PE, if kids don’t have relationships with one another, if they don’t have a relationship with you, they just know, Hey, you’re that Sunday school guy.

Tony: Right? They don’t know who you are. They don’t know your family. Um, they’re not receptive. They’re, you know, you’re talking about big life stuff. You’re not teaching them one plus one. You gonna, you can learn one plus one from your tablet, you know? But can you learn how to follow Jesus from your iPad? You know, you need a human to, to model this for you. So, I mean, I think this is one of the things, um, and I, I told you in our emails earlier, I said, I’m getting a little older now and you know, some things that I used to be real, real obsessed and picky about. I’m thinking, man, that, you know, it’s a lot simpler than I wanted it to be. You know, that I want it to be this real complicated strategic thing. But man, if you’re just loving people and getting to know them and being faithful to, to share your experience with Jesus, share what the Bible says.

Tony: I mean, that’s, I mean, that’s 80, 20 principle right there. That’s what’s going to make the most difference. Cause, um, I, I don’t remember a whole lot about Sunday school when I was a kid. I don’t even remember what she said about it, but I remember she kept praying and she checked, kept trusting in God and I said, wow, you know, this lady, I know something terrible happened in her life, but you know, she’s here for us. She’s still giving us cookies. She’s still praying, you know, so, you know, I don’t know if longterm that impacted my life or not, but that’s what I remember. I don’t remember all the lessons. Bless her heart. I don’t, I don’t remember everything else, but you know, there we go.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Well thanks for doing this research and kind of sharing your insights about that. Like, I know you said some of it’s just kind of your thoughts on it and maybe not directly from the data or whatever. But that’s great. That’s great. People can read that and see what that means for them and their ministry. How can people connect with you?

Tony: Um, you know, ministry to children.com I’m there everyday if you’d leave a comment, it’s going to come to my, it’s going to come to my email. Um, otherwise I’m on Facebook sometime. You know, I, I used to be on Twitter more, but I don’t know, it’s just not the same here in America. When I was in Haiti, I was on social media a lot more. When I’m in America, I’ve got people to talk to face to face, so it’s not as much.

Nick: Yeah, it’s cool. And ministry to children with a hyphen after each word there. But I mean you just Google it and like we talked about earlier, that’s the probably the easiest way cause that’s pretty popular. It would be your number one hit.

Tony: That’s what I do. I just Google it ministry to children and it shows up right there. But Hey Nick, thanks again, uh, for inviting me and, uh, I’ve, I’ve enjoyed talking to you man and congratulations on all these podcasts. You know, this is a longevity you’re showing and I, I think you’ve built quite a resource for people, so I appreciate you Nick.

Nick: Thanks. Thanks. Yeah, I love doing it. Just love learning from different people and um, you know, it’s, it has been three years in some ways. It’s gone by fast and we’re in year four I guess now. And it’s pretty cool. I just love learning from different people like yourself. And so thanks for coming on the podcast from, for sharing with us.

Tony: All right man. Thank you. And God bless.

Nick: All right, thanks. Well, like I said in the beginning, I don’t know if any of that really surprised you. I mean a lot of that was probably what you would expect, but it’s a good reminder, isn’t it? And so I think some action items coming out of that interview is one to look the survey results yourself and we link to that in the show notes at nickblevins.com slash episode one six five and then we talked a little bit about the additional responses at the end so you can go there, read some of those open ended responses like when people said, you know, what’s the biggest barrier or what’s the one thing that is most effective? You can read all those. I’d encourage you to do that. And then another action item I thought of is just to remind your team of the importance of what they do. Right. That came up in the survey, not just for staff, but for volunteers.

Nick: Remind them of the importance of what they do. And maybe we’ll even reference some quotes or some things from this survey, but it’s easy to forget. How important is the work that we do with kids ministry and student ministry for sure. Because it’s not like every week a kid or a student tells you the impact they had that you had in their life. That just doesn’t happen a lot. So it’s great to remind your team you can’t tell them enough. And I just thought of that coming out of that interview. And then last I thought again with the focus and the reminder that it’s important to partner with parents. What if we all surveyed our parents? What if we surveyed our parents just to figure out how are things going for, you know, from their perspective with our church and with our ministry. I think that would be a great thing.

Nick: As I mentioned in the beginning, if you lead staff at your church, we are piloting something with ministry boost this fall that is in public. It will be at the turn of the year, but we’re kind of, you know, experimenting with it now. Beta testing it. If you’re interested, email me otherwise, thanks for listening. I hope this was helpful. Hope it’s going to help you, you know, think about your own ministry. What could you tweak or change? Maybe you’re going to survey parents, you know you’re going to read some of these survey results, something like that. As always though, I just hope it helps you and encourages you. Hopefully you’re reminded of how important it is, what you do, because it’s hard. Ministry is hard and it’s easy for to get that sometimes, so I hope you don’t forget it. You’re doing a great work and I love that we get to have guests on to help all of us be reminded of that, to learn how he could do that even better to continue impacting kids, students, and families. Thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing, and I’ll catch you next time on the family ministry podcast.

Thanks for listening to the Nick Blevins family ministry podcast. We hope this helps you maximize your church’s potential. We would love to hear stories of how you apply what you’ve learned. You can do that by leaving a comment on iTunes or in the show notes at nickblevins.com

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