One of the greatest challenges to bringing a church back to life is overcoming the lack of children and young parents in the congregation. With Vacation Bible Schools happening across our association, it’s easy to forget that many churches have no kids, or very few kids in them.
Sometimes, as a congregation ages, the only young voices come from the occasional grandchild who comes to visit. The nursery sits empty most weeks. There is no children’s church because there are no children. We stop ordering children’s Sunday school material. We don’t bother recruiting a children’s teacher. So then when a family does visit, the church isn’t prepared and the likelihood of a return visit is very low.
So what do you do? How do you start a children’s ministry if your youngest regular attenders are in their 60’s? How do you begin if you don’t have anyone who can get down on the floor with the toddlers?
Step one is to PRAY. Pray very specifically for your church. Pray for God to burden your church with a heart for the families who live near you. Pray for God to give your church a passion for ministering to young families. Now this will mean you have to get involved in some messy lives. You will have to parent some parents who never learned how to raise their kids in a godly home. So you really need to pray for God to expand the love capacity of your church before you reach out to those who will test your love capacity.
Step two is to PRAY. Pray very specifically for the needs of kids and families around your church. Pray for their salvation. Pray for God to call them to Himself. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel, to share hope, to share wisdom with them. To pray for them specifically you need to know who they are and what their needs are. One of the best ways to do this is to visit a nearby school. Talk to the principal and the counselors. Ask them: How can our church pray for your school? How can we help your school? What do you need? As you talk with them listen for how God would lead your church to help the school. Don’t be limited by your evaluation of your resources. What would God have you do?
As you begin to pray for your church to love families and you discover the needs around you, God will create opportunities for you to share His great love with your community. Then I believe He will bring you all the resources you need to minister to those kids and families.
Summer is a great time for kids ministry. VBS, children’s camp, water days, block parties and more. These are all good ways to reach families. But for your church, summer might just be prep time. The first days of school bring wonderful opportunities to reach families. This summer the staff of your local schools are hard at work but they also have time to visit with you about how your church can impact your community. Maybe this Fall will be the beginning of a new day for children’s ministry in your church.
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