This week we’re looking at an interview with Craig Groeschel excerpted from Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing
What are the key elements of an excellent children’s ministry? What are you looking for?
This is typically a challenging question for a senior pastor. We think that’s why we have children’s pastors—to rattle off answers like that, so we don’t have to! But the truth is, every person in your leadership should know this one. Of course you should delegate the authority and tasks of children’s ministry to those who are called to lead it. But all leadership must take an active interest and participate in this incredibly important area. Children’s ministry isn’t a separate department. It’s a strategic component of the ministry as a whole—only shorter.
The key elements of an excellent children’s ministry are solid safety procedures, an environment that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to a child, great curriculum that teaches biblical truth and how to apply it and most importantly, an amazing team of volunteer leaders who understand the vision of your ministry.
Now, I don’t need to know what characters are on screen or what units they’re doing this week. But I should always be able to answer these three questions:
- Is it effective?
- Is it aligned with the church’s vision?
- Is it being led with purpose?
LifeKIDS’ ministry is effectively producing spiritual growth in our children. The way it functions is strategically aligned with the ministry model of our church. And, LifeKIDS is being intentionally directed and coordinated to accomplish its stated, agreed-to mission. At our church, senior leadership provides this direction, and we evaluate all three criteria regularly.
How do you resource children’s ministry at your church? How does it compare to other ministries as a percentage of your overall ministry budget?
One of LifeChurch.tv’s core values is stewardship. Because of that—and not in spite of it—we spend a lot of money on kids. Because God led us to create our own curriculum, rather than just purchasing some off the shelf, our production costs are high. Our multi-campus model allows us to get a lot of mileage from this expense already. However, all of our LifeKIDS curriculum, including videos, lesson plans, and all other materials are now poised to be shared on our OPEN website (www.open.lifechurch.tv). When you calculate this kind of potential ROI, the value is well worth the cost.
Another area where we don’t skimp is what LifeKIDS’ environments look like. Although the murals, lights, and noise may not directly change lives, they make kids feel welcome, and they want to come back and bring their friends. One of our LifeKIDS staff members told us this true story a few years ago: A family was visiting LifeChurch.tv for the first time on Easter. Their older elementary-aged boy froze when he walked into the lobby, and he shouted, “You call this a church?” And that’s exactly the kind of reaction we want. We’re not in competition with the church down the street. Culturally, we’re going head-to-head with Disney.
Because of our investment in quality children’s ministry, kids fifth grade and under represent over a fifth of most campuses’ attendance. If you include parents and volunteers, that’s a huge chunk of our body being ministered to. Also, in a typical week, LifeKIDS has several more experiences per week than “big church.” When I preach one time, that may represent 12 different campuses, but during that same hour, LifeKIDS will have anywhere from 4 to 11 separate experiences—per campus—running at the same time. Looking at it that way, the budget percentage is clearly appropriate. So considering the scope and scale of the ministry that LifeKIDS executes each week, it really doesn’t matter how it compares to other ministry departments or programs. That’s an apples to oranges comparison.