The Short List: Are Children a Priority, or Something Else?

In Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, author and researcher George Barna makes the following unqualified statement:

“Ministry to children is THE single most strategic ministry in God’s kingdom.”

We agree.  But how often do we see ministry to children viewed as crucial, vital and of paramount importance?  All too often children’s ministry is buried at the basement of a top-down pyramidal ministry model that puts adults at the top and all others in descending order and priority.  Don’t think so?  Check the following:

–          What institutional priorities does your church budget reflect?  Where does the bulk of ministry resources – money, time, energy, space, staffing – go?

–          Does church leadership demonstrate a high level of commitment to and support of children and children’s ministry?

–          Is your children’s ministry leader included in church leadership?

–          In the event of budget shortfalls, who gets the ax?  Are cost reduction efforts distributed evenly throughout the church, with each demographic taking an equal hit, or is ministry to children the target of deep cuts while other areas receive cursory pruning?

–          Are children consistently provided the best and highest quality in curriculum?

–          Are “the best and the brightest” actively recruited and trained to serve in children’s ministries, or do kids get whatever’s leftover?

–          Are classroom space and furnishings adequate for children’s special needs (close proximity to bathroom, doors with windows for security purposes, wall murals, coat racks, cabinets and storage, kid-size tables and chairs, etc.)?

–          If there’s a space crunch, who gets booted – adults or kids?

–          Is your church willing to hire/pay professionals to run your children’s ministry – even part-time – or does it rely solely on volunteers?  (If the latter, what message does this send regarding institutional priorities?)

–          Does your church have office space or a designated “work space” for children’s ministries?

–          Are children seen as ministry add-ons rather than as a crucial demographic, vital to securing the future?

–          Does church leadership take issues of child safety and security seriously?  Are nationwide background checks mandatory for anyone who works with kids?

–          Do you have a written Child Protection Policy?  Are children’s workers and parents following sign-in/sign-out procedures?

–          Are children’s workers  affirmed regularly?

–          Does your church offer regular teacher training and personal growth/enrichment opportunities, or are teachers recruited in desperation and then thrown into the classroom and left to fend for themselves?

–          Do you have written job descriptions in place?  Do children’s workers know them and follow them?

–          Is church leadership genuinely and enthusiastically supportive, or do they merely pay lip service to children’s ministry?  How many elders or deacons are actively involved in children’s ministry?  How many teach a children’s class or are plugged into another C.M. role/responsibility on a regular basis?

–          Does the person(s) in charge of ministry to children have responsibility without authority?  Are their views and opinions respected?

This is the short list.  In tandem with the prior post, if you’ve answered “No” to two or more of the above, you may have some persuading to do… or, it may be time to move on.

Lots more coming up, including:

A Special Place – Ministry to Children
Childcare vs. Ministry
When the Shepherd Turns Green
What “Ministry to Children” ISN’T
When the Shepherd Turns Green
Three Meanings, 7 Must-Haves & 5 Goals for Children’s Ministry
Also in the pipeline: Communication: Optional or Essential? and Social Media in Ministry.
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