Building Elementary Ministry Foundations

This post was written by Leann Woelk, a member of the INCM Blog team.

When it comes to having a strategy for building an elementary children’s ministry, think of it like building a house. Paul gives a great example in 1 Corinthians 3:10, when he writes, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.”

You need a foundation, a cornerstone, and pillars before you even add your support beams and walls. Then you continue to build on it, floor by floor.  Each one of our “houses” will look different and unique and that’s the beauty of design.

However, you can have the most elaborate aesthetics, but if it hasn’t been built securely from the ground up, you will have issues as the months and years pass or when unforeseen events or a natural disaster hits your building.

As you look toward the fall, you might find yourself feeling you need to start from the ground up with all the changes that have happened over this last year. Maybe you have discovered some cracks in the foundation that are in need of repair. Maybe your foundation is in good condition but as you started to build a second floor on your house, the walls began to shift and your structure seems unstable.

Think through the following elements for your ministry. What needs work? What is in good working order?

For elementary children’s ministry, your foundation must be the Word of God (1 Corinthians 3:11) and Jesus as the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22).

It must have the following elements for strength.

Vision and Mission Statement

God’s word give some great examples:

  • The Greatest Commandment in Mark 12:30-31
  • The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20
  • Jesus’ Mission Statement in Luke 4:18

For your mission statement, try to make it one sentence that gets at the heart of what your ministry is hoping to accomplish for the kingdom. It might be, “A place where kids can know and love God” or “Learning God’s way together.” Whatever it may be, make it easy to say when people ask you what your mission statement is.

A plumb line is used in construction to help us stay in line vertically. God’s plumb line for us is righteousness, which we find in Isaiah 28:17. As we prepare to build or rebuild our ministry house, here are some foundational parts of our plumb line in Children’s Ministry.

Values

These are the most important things that your ministry upholds:

  • Training in Righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Abide in Christ (John 15:5)
  • Upholding God’s word (2 Tim 3:16)

Anchor Statements

These are values stated easily for your kids to remember:

  • Your heart will honor Christ (1 Peter 3:15)
  • Be a living sacrifice to the Lord, holy and acceptable (Romans 12:1-2)

With all of this in place, the pillars are the next most important part of this children’s ministry house. These pillars are the structural elements that transmit the weight of the structure above to the elements below. This means if you don’t have each of these 5 pillars of children’s ministry in place, the weight of your amazing programs will break under the heaviness because it does not have enough support.

As you look at your 5 pillars ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have this pillar in place?
  2. How well are we executing this pillar?
  3. Where might we need to improve it?

Pillar 1 – Children’s Ministry Administration

1 Corinthians 14:40

  • Systems and Procedures
  • Risk Management
  • Volunteer Recruiting and Retaining
  • Event Planning

Pillar 2 – Teaching

2 Timothy 4:2

  • Jesus Focused and Life Giving
  • Discipleship
  • Creative and Relevant
  • Different Learning Styles

Pillar 3 – Hospitality

Hebrews 13:2

  • First Impression (Online and Onsite)
  • Safety and Cleanliness
  • Atmosphere

Pillar 4 – Worship

Hebrews 12:28

  •  Praise and Worship
  •  Serving
  •  Giving
  •  Prayer

Pillar 5 – Outreach

Mark 28:19-20

  • Culture of Invitation
  • Felt needs met
  • Day Camp, VBS or Special Events
  • Community Partnership

Conclusion

With these foundational pieces in place, you have created a stable and lasting structure that can be built upon for generations. As the support beams and walls begin to complete the first floor, you’ll be drawing up the blueprints for a second and third floor soon.

It’s a good idea to have a yearly inspection to check your structure. Make sure to assess any cracks that form. Go down below the foundation and take a good look at the structure. Consult the engineer and his manual and call in the Carpenter at the first sign of a situation, and trust that the Carpenter will help you as you build for Him.


About Leann

As a wife, mother, and leader in the ministry of children, Leann has been serving churches, camps and conferences with enthusiasm for over 30 years with whimsical creativity and thrifty practicality. Her desire is to care for the hearts of those who are on the front lines of ministry. She partners with Children’s Ministry Specialists and their churches to provide training, support and care for them and their ministry.

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