What kind of children’s ministry does God want you to build? What do your blue prints look like? In Habakkuk 2:2 we read that God instructed Habakkuk to “Write the vision...” God knew the importance of having a vision; He knew that anything that is going to succeed must begin with a vision. It has been said, “If you can see the invisible you can do the impossible!” Where do you see your children’s ministry in 5 years? 10 years? If you see your children’s ministry in the same place it is now, there is no vision. Someone with vision looks to the future and sees progress. Vision could be a picture in your mind of 10 times the number of children and families attending within the next several years and your church having to add on to make room for the growing numbers of children. It could also be to simply have families more interactive with their children and reaching out to the community in a greater way. Vision is not necessarily based on numbers. So how do you determine the vision for the children’s ministry of your church?
First Step: Being In Agreement With Leadership
It is very important that you know what the purpose or vision of the church is and how leadership envisions the future and value of the children’s ministry.
Some questions that should be asked of leadership are as follows:
- Does the church have a vision or mission statement?
- What is it? How does children’s ministry fit into it?
- What part does the leadership of your church want children’s ministry to play?
- To what degree is leadership willing to support the children’s ministry/Family ministry in the areas of facility space, finances, and prayer?
Whenever you approach the leadership of your church, whether it is your senior pastor or a board, keep the following principles in mind:
- Always come prepared and have something in writing that you can leave with them. What you give them should explain what you want, how much it may cost, what’s needed, and what it will accomplish. (See an example under Budgets & Money link)
- Do your homework and make sure what you are asking for lines up with the overall vision of the church
- Approach leadership with a positive attitude and with respect for the position God has placed them in
- Stay away from grumbling, begging, demanding, or faultfinding
- Be thankful for what you already have. Make sure you are taking care of what has already been given to you
- Make sure you believe in what you are presenting. If you are not confident in what you are asking for then you either have not done your homework or the timing is wrong
- Keep leadership informed of what is going on in the children’s ministry (which means you’ll need to keep some type of journal or record)
- Let leadership know when children’s lives are changed, when they receive salvation, or how well the special event or fundraiser went. When leadership sees that good things are happening they will be more interested in hearing your plans for the future. Communicating this could be done through an upbeat, short monthly memo, email or in a scheduled meeting
Second Step: Establishing Purpose and Vision
If you don’t know where you are going you’ll never know if you made it to your destination
Establish what the purpose or vision is for your children’s ministry. This can only be done through one on one time spent with God. Time spent in prayer and waiting on Him to place His desire for your ministry in the hearts of those who will lead it.
Set some time aside to give thought, prayer, and focus to your vision. This might be done for a certain period of time each day. You could also set up a time to meet in prayer with leadership as a group once a week for a few weeks. Another option is to set several days aside to “get away” with God. Do as your heart directs and as your schedule permits.
During this time ask God to reveal to you what He would like to do in the children’s ministry, where He would like to take it, and the basic steps He would like you to take to get there. It will be very important for you to write down what you sense in your heart, and “see” as a possibility in the future, and what you feel God is telling you.
It could be as subtle as a thought that pops into your head out of the blue, or an exciting feeling in your “gut” when you talk about the possibility of doing a specific thing. You might just get one word or keep seeing one image over and over again. Keep seeking God and in His perfect time He will reveal His plan for your children’s ministry. Take your time on this; it will be the foundation on which you build the children’s ministry.
An example of a Vision statement for a children’s ministry would be as follows:
At (Insert church name here) our children’s ministry is called KidsTown, "where kids live and grow strong and wise".
Vision Statement Elaborated and Explained:
Even Jesus was a child at one time and had to grow up. During His childhood we see that He kept increasing in stature, wisdom, and in favor with God and men. From the day Jesus was born He had a call on His life. As He grew He developed self discipline and how to sacrifice His flesh. He also developed His spirit and discovered what His purpose was and how God wanted Him to walk it out.
By the time He was twelve He knew the scriptures so well that He astounded the high priests. By the time He was in His 30’s He was able to walk in self control and make wise choices, withstanding major temptation from Satan in the wilderness. By the time He was baptized by John, He had earned the right to hear the words “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.
Children need to grow up in an environment where they can discover what that purpose is and learn how to walk in self-control (growing stronger) and wisdom (growing stronger in spirit), so that they can fulfill it. Our goal is to provide a place that assists families in raising their children in a way that will encourage children to grow up to be just like Jesus; confident in whom they are and able to make wise choices that will bring them grace and favor in life.
Third Step: Developing a Mission Statement
When you have the vision for where you see the children’s ministry going, then come up with a mission statement. Keep it simple. The actual statement should be no more than two to three sentences. An explanation can follow that gives purpose to the statement. But the statement should state why your children’s ministry exists within a brief sentence or two. An example of a mission statement based on this vision would be:
“Where kids live and grow strong and wise.”
An example of a scripture to base this mission statement:
Luke 2:40 “And the Child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on Him” (Message Bible)
You could also expound on this vision statement in each department.
KidsTown offers ministry to children during all regular services and is divided into 3 basic age groups as follows:
“Learning how to grow”
In TinyTown we minister to children ages newborn to kindergarten. TinyTown provides a warm environment with lots of bubbles, music, hugs, and smiles. Our goal is to create an environment in which they can discover what God made for them, how much He loves them, and that He has something special planned for them. During this time we want them to get to know God.
“Applying what we know”
In ToonTown we minister to 1st Grade through 3rd Grade. This is an ideal age to teach children about salvation. They tend to be very open to learning about God and the Bible and can comprehend the importance of salvation. They are also sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Our goal is to lay the foundation on which they will understand what it means to “walk with God and be like Jesus”. During this time we want them to begin to build a life long friendship and relationship with God.
“Letting His light show”
In UpTown we minister to 4th grade through 6th grade. During this stage of life most children are beginning to make some important decisions about who they are and what type of character they will have. Choices will be made concerning whether or not to be self-centered or others-focused, teachable or stubborn. They tend to live their teenage life based on the decisions they make during this time in their life.
Peer pressure also begins to play a part at this stage in their lives. It is crucial that they feel like they belong and that they are loved unconditionally. Our goal is to provide sound biblical teaching and a place for them to come and “hang out”, feel a part of, and know that they can ask questions freely without facing judgment or condemnation. During this time we want them to develop their relationship with God and choose to include Him in every part of their lives.
Fourth Step: Setting Goals
The next step you need to take is to set some basic goals. You will need to know what you are working with before you can do this. Take some time to evaluate where the children’s ministry is. Following are some questions you could ask as you evaluate:
- What is the vision of the Church?
- How does the leadership in the church view the Children’s Ministry?
- What space, resources, and assistance do you currently have?
- Whom do you have that is willing to help?
- Do you have a budget?
- How many children do you currently have? What ages?
- If you have volunteers already, do they enjoy what they do?
- What do teachers voice their concerns about the most?
- What do parents voice their concerns about the most?
- What positive things do the children say?
- What do the children think about the children’s ministry?
- What would the children do differently?
- What are the three strongest areas of the children’s ministry?
- What are the three weakest areas of the children’s ministry?
There are many more questions you could ask when evaluating the children’s ministry but these will get you started. Once you have taken the time to evaluate the children’s ministry in your church, choose the 3 weakest areas. Focus on improving them, while at the same time giving attention to maintaining what is already in place if you feel it is a benefit to the vision and plan you have established.
If you currently have a program or event in place that does not fit within the vision God has given you, accept that its season is over and its time to say goodbye to it. Generally if you are in phase one of building your children’s ministry the following three areas will need your attention:
- Focus on establishing a strong volunteer base that has a sense of teamwork
- Focus on building a strong budget for children’s ministry
- Focus on bringing organization to the administrative aspects of children’s ministry
There are many resources and ministries that can offer assistance in the areas in which your children’s ministry needs help. Take some time to check out what is available on the internet, in bookstores, and at conferences. Do your homework, and stay focused on the three main issues at hand. Do not get side tracked in the process; remember there is a time for every season under the sun.
You may be have times of disappointment or feel overwhelmed at the task ahead. Don’t despise small beginnings. God will bring the increase - Job 8:7. If a church is determined to build a successful children's ministry they will find the ways and means to accomplish their purpose.
The primary need is FAITH IN GOD - Mark 11:24&25. I have written a five part series titled Five Ways Leaders Limit Themselves. I encourage you to take the time to read it if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. You will find it listed under Leadership Articles.
Fifth Step: Following God's Plan
Lastly, stay focused on the vision God has given you for the children’s ministry at your church. At times you will be tempted to take on projects or hold events that have nothing to do with the purpose God has given for your children’s ministry. Do not get distracted!
Just because people may be pressuring you to do VBS or camp, and every other church within 5 miles of your church does VBS or camp, it does not mean God has called YOU to do it! He may, He may not. Seek Him first before you make your choices. Remember God will only support what He has endorsed. As the saying goes, “If it’s not His will He won’t cover the bill.”
Note: If you are receiving pressure from leadership to go in a direction you do not feel God has instructed you to go; attempt to positively communicate what is in your heart for children. Submit to their decision and pray for God to work in their hearts and yours so that you reach a place of agreement.
If this does not seem possible after a period of time then you may need to reevaluate your position or your heart. You will either need to fall in line with their request and follow their vision or, If you do not believe you can come to a place of unity with the leadership, seek God about either changing your heart or giving you new direction.
I strongly believe that if you are not in agreement with your pastor and leadership it will only cause discord and bring division to the church. If there is consistent conflict between the leadership of the church and yourself it usually comes down to the issue of whether or not you can submit. Are you in the right place, God is working in you and you need to be more patient? If this is the case, God will bring about the vision He has placed in your heart.
It could also be that you are in the wrong place or your season there is over. You definitely need to seek His direction to be sure. If this is the case, trust your situation to Him and He will open up another door of opportunity for you to be able to accomplish the vision He has given you. Either way keep your heart pure and your attitude positive. You have an important decision to make. It should be made based on much prayer and self-evaluation. This type of decision should never be made in haste.
You must will or choose to obey God’s leading. When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what He will do, but what you will do. To be successful in God's work is to fall in line with His will and to do it His way even when it does not line up with your will or popular vote.
As He states in His word, “To obey is better than offering a sacrifice to cover your disobedience.” Doing what is pleasing to Him is always a success; however, sometimes reaching that success includes walking down the narrow road of faith and self sacrifice. Make sure that you are building God's children’s ministry, not yours. If you are building it in your own strength, and not by His anointing, it will fail.