A few years ago, I was asked a question that radically changed the way I operated my children’s ministry. (Nothing like a change of perspective to adjust your viewpoint, just look at Ezekiel; I’m thankful that at least, God didn’t have to tug me by the hair to get my attention.)
A kids’ ministry conference speaker asked the gathered teachers a question: “What do kids think about your children’s ministry?” Some of us laughed nervously, others looked puzzled. The question seemed simple but I honestly didn’t know. I promised myself to find out.
I knew what I wanted kids to think about the ministry – and me. I wanted them to know I loved them, that God loved them and that living for Him was a wonderful lifetime experience. Seemed simple enough. I tested the waters by making a special collection box and placed it in the welcome area in the kids’ church. I asked children to tell me what they thought about their kids’ church by writing me anonymous notes.
Here’s what I heard:
- “I like the snacks. I like the games too. Sometimes I want to play games but my teacher won’t let me.”
- “I wish I knew how to pray better. I like children’s church. I like the music.”
I found those answers revealing. They seemed okay but then I read these:
- “I don’t understand sometimes but my teacher is nice. I really like the pictures she shows us.”
- “I wish we had more crafts and stuff. I like making things.”
- “My friend won’t come back because he thinks church is stupid. He thinks I’m stupid too.”
WOW! Next as the speaker suggested, I took a walk around kids’ church. Instead of thinking like an adult, I tried to imagine having a kids’ perspective. My friendly kids’ church was not completely kid-friendly.
- Posters and decorations were too high on the wall. No kid could comfortably see them. Over time, kids ignore rules posters unless you moved them around.
- My room needed color – and a decorating upgrade! It was time to paint over Bugs Bunny and change a few things.
- It wasn’t easy to navigate. First timers felt overwhelmed for a reason, there was no clear direction for them to follow. We had a welcome area, game area, teaching area and lots of extra spots but first time visitors might find all these confusing. I needed clear signs.
Next, I reviewed the kids’ written comments. I added instructions to our prayer time roster. I enlisted help gathering ideas for crafts. I dealt with the peer pressure some of my kids felt by bringing them the Word. (“Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God.”)
As a kids’ ministry leader, it is our responsibility to think like a kid. Working the daily or weekly ministry grind can make you forget who you are trying to reach. Thinking like a kid, learning what kids really think about my children’s church helped me become a better teacher. I suggest everyone give it a try. It could change everything!