Children's Ministry Ablaze!
Impact on Families with Small Children
Many congregations successfully engage unchurched families through ministries that reach out first to children and then, through the children, to the adults. These suggestions can enhance your ministry to families with small children.
The Dos and Don'ts
- Pray that the lost in your community might visit your congregation.
- Make sure your nursery has visible signage and is available during events that attract visitors. Publicize Nursery availability when inviting the community to functions.
- Develop a Nursery policy book. Are there always two adults present? Do you do background checks? Do you have a sign-in routine? Are pagers available to notify parents of a crying child?
- Talk with parents who are visiting. Have a colorful brochure available to show them the ministries available to their children and to them.
- Have a resource section for parents with resources that are accessible, current and easy to use.
- Consider ways children can be active participants in worship. Children’s bulletins, children’s messages and children singing in church are a few common methods.
- Recruit workers who like to be around children. Train them to understand the importance of their role. Remind Sunday School teachers, VBS workers and the like that they aren’t just teaching for a week, but could be God’s tool for bringing the Gospel to a family.
- Prepare book bags with soft toys and books related to a Bible Story to help children sit quietly through worship. Put them near the church entrance and make sure the ushers know what the resource is and the purpose behind it. Children can take a packet at the beginning and return it at the conclusion of worship. Assign a volunteer to repair and replace materials as needed.
- When developing an Early Childhood Center, know and follow state guidelines. Hire a competent teacher and director who understands the ministry implications of Early Childhood education.
- Have an Early Childhood facility known for excellence. Safety is an issue for today’s parents, so use technology to show you care. (i.e. punch pads for building entrance, computer program to track fees and pickup, etc.) Consider having a child-friendly building with lower counters and facilities and one-way glass in the hallway so parents can observe unnoticed by their child. Determine developmentally-appropriate activities for each age group.
- Publicize church activities in community places where children gather.
- Be friendly and talk with visitors. Arrange for children to help visiting children find their room and introduce them to their class.
- Have a program aimed at young mothers. Programs such as MOPS, in which babysitting is provided and mothers can relax and develop relationships with other mothers, provide great support.
- Don’t assume visitors with children know what is available and where it is located. Accompany them to their destination and describe opportunities that might interest them.
- Don’t rush families into a commitment to your church. Pray for and with them, talk with them and develop an ongoing relationship so that they see Jesus in you and know Him by getting to know you.
- Don’t force parents to attend an event with no option if their child should act age-appropriately and cry. Staff a nursery or provide childcare if you wish to develop relationships with visitors with small children.
- Don’t give the impression children are not wanted. Consider your wording about your nursery’s availability and remind congregation members it is okay to have some noise from children in church.
- Don’t stop inviting non-member families to appropriate church events. Develop a database that can record contact and follow-up with visiting families.
- Don’t forgot to introduce them to the pastor, principal or Early Childhood Director. These people can expand their awareness of ministry opportunities that could meet the needs of their families.
- Don’t underestimate the power of older members to encourage young parents and remind them that they can survive the stresses of parenting young children. Invite non-members to work on events with your older members where they can develop this relationship. Many young parents feel all alone even in the most crowded situation.
- Don’t be afraid of those who have different skin color, clothing or religious background. Instead, try to learn something about them and relate your faith in a culturally-sensitive manner.