This guest post was written by Hillsong Kids.
Kids’ church services are a big deal. They’re the place where kids learn to worship, where they practice sharing their faith with others, and where they can be themselves without feeling like they’re all wrong.
There’s no one way to do things; kids’ ministries are as varied as the people who lead them.
Still, some common elements can help you in your ministry planning: music, teaching time for lessons or Bible stories, crafts or other hands-on activities, prayer time (or praying together), and an opportunity for kids to share what God is doing in their lives or how He has blessed them.
We’ve learned at Hillsong Kids that we can structure these elements to engage our kids from when they are dropped off to when they’re begging mom and dad to stay a little longer at the end.
Here are the 9 elements we believe will make your ministry the most dynamic for your kids:
1. A warm welcome.
Welcome starts at the door and goes right into all of the rooms. Picture a host welcoming a guest into their home. “Welcome to my home! I hope you have a great time here and enjoy seeing all of the things that make it so special.”
Welcome is not generally included in a run sheet, but it is one of the most important things you should remember to include.
2. A transition from hang time to the service elements.
We use a consistent countdown to bring familiarity and engagement. A predictable direction helps kids to know what is coming next.
The newest version of our countdown video includes a challenge that leaders can complete with the children.
3. Praise and worship.
Like in “big” church, we worship Jesus every time we gather. The first thing to remember is that it’s all about Jesus; not about us.
We may want to make our services entertaining and fun with games, songs, and videos, but if we get too focused on these things, we can lose sight of the real reason we’re there: to bring praise and worship to Jesus.
4. Prayer time.
Kids are encouraged to pray or share good reports from their lives. It’s just one way for kids to build meaningful relationships with their peers and share the good things and the hard things in life.
The more they can talk about these experiences and see God at work in their lives, the better!
It’s not about the amount of money they bring; it’s about teaching children the biblical principle of giving.
“Offering” is more than just a word. It’s about making sure that our kids grow up knowing the importance of giving back to their community and how it feels when they help others in need – truly understanding “It’s not what you have, but what you give.”
An offering represents teaching kids who may only think of themselves how important it can be to contribute.
6. A video element.
Our Big Message sets up the preaching by encouraging questions in kids’ minds that will be answered in the word.
Videos can create curiosity and draw kids in by asking questions that will be answered later.
7. The preaching of the Word.
Just like praise and worship, every time we gather, we hear the preaching of God’s word. In our latest season of Big Curriculum, we have integrated preaching right into the center of our video elements.
But we firmly believe God wants to speak to His children each time we gather, so there is always space to answer the questions of individual children in each service. After all, the goal of any leader is to help disciple each child.
We want to take every opportunity to minister and cultivate children’s spirituality. From the littlest need like a scraped knee or life-threatening situations within a child’s life, bring God right into the center.
As Matthew 18:20 states, “For where two or three come together unto my name, there am I with them.”
9. Small groups.
We want to take the time to connect on a personal level with the kids and help them cement what they have just heard. Small groups allow us to have deeper conversations without having anyone feel like they are the only one with the question.
Think about the children God has placed in your community to minister to. Take these elements and prayerfully create a place for them to grow in their faith, where they can be themselves without feeling like it’s all wrong. It may not look the same as every other church service out there – and that’s okay!
You don’t have to do things “the way everyone else does”, do what works best for you or your kids. The point is to create an environment of love, acceptance, belonging…a safe space where kids learn how to worship God with others, share their faith with others (even when it feels scary), and just be themselves.
For a glimpse into Hillsong’s Elementary service schedule, check out this Hillsong Kids run sheet. And for more ideas on how to structure your service, watch the Hillsong Conference Masterclass breakout on Hillsong Kids Live.