I love the kids in our church. And, as a pastor, I have fond memories of little ones I grew to love, often baptized, and helped start their spiritual journey. At the same time, though, I’ve seen some areas of weakness in some children’s ministries. Here are some others that come to mind today:
- Creating silos in ministry. That is, the church indeed has a children’s ministry. And a student ministry. And an adult ministry. And a music ministry. And a missions ministry. They’re all good ministries—they’re just completely disconnected from each other. Only the children’s ministry leaders are giving much attention to children.
- Not expecting and equipping parents to disciple their children. Instead, the church often takes on the role that parents should have and does all the discipling (sometimes, frankly, because parents haven’t done it). At the same time, the churches that do expect parents to be the disciplers don’t always equip them to do it, however.
- Presenting a different gospel to children. I’m not talking about a false gospel here; I’m talking about gospel presentations to children that don’t deal adequately with sin and the need for forgiveness. True, we must present the gospel in ways that children understand – but the gospel is the same for all of us.
- Pastors not being directly involved with the children’s ministry. I’ve written previously about why pastors must make this commitment. We simply miss a great opportunity to reach and influence the next generation if we never spend time with them.
- Not providing age-based training for them. Here, I’m particularly concerned with churches that have small groups, but no real intentional teaching for children. We need to equip children with strategies and lessons appropriate for their life stage.
- Not including children in our sermon application. If children are in your worship service, do you ever help them understand how biblical truths intersect with their lives? Or, do you use illustrations and applications that fit only adults?
- Not praying intentionally and proactively for children. Too often, we pray for children only when they have health problems or when they begin to express interest in salvation. How might our children’s lives be different, however, if we equip parents to pray for them regularly – and then ask senior adults and others to pray regularly for them as well?
- Ignoring safety and security concerns. This issue has always been a critical one, but tragedies and disclosures have more recently reminded us of these issues. Churches that don’t put in place strong protections for children make the choice to be ill-prepared for reaching kids.
- Having no strategic plan to reach children. We assume that our church children will naturally turn to Christ when they’re ready, but many churches have no strategy to reach unchurched families and children. In my estimation, we’re not that burdened about reaching children (even though studies show that most believers turn to Christ before age 18).
What other issues would you point out? For more ways to strengthen your children’s ministry, check out this post, too.