This post was written by INCM Blog Team Member, Jen Edwards, a Kid Ministry Coach, and Consultant.
I’ve often wondered: Why is attending Church so hard on a family?
Take a look at all the ads we see about how the family might spend the weekend.
We see boat trips, beach trips, ball games, and meals together.
The world says weekends are times for the family to be, play, and stay together.
But the church has created a different experience.
At church, kids are placed in four separate ministries, with multiple different leaders, and so many different rules and regulations.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how to create a better whole-family experience so families find themselves in the church over a lifetime.
Why We Separate Families
But before we get into those details, let’s take a look at why a ministry leader might have such different goals, objectives, and leadership of their ministries.
Sometimes it is because we believe our ministry is the most important.
- Preschool ministry matters most because it is the foundational year.
- Elementary Ministry matters greatly because it is when they form their beliefs.
- Middle school Ministry matters sooooo much bruh, because, well, because it is Middle School.
- High school Ministry matters more than anything because it is the launching years.
So which ministry matters more?
Ask any parent and I am sure they would say the ministry that matters most to them is the one their child is in.
Isn’t this true?
In my experience, I did not care about soccer until my son played, and I did not know much about famous rock drummers until my middle son started playing percussion.
Now imagine a family with children in multiple aged ministries.
How is your church helping these parents win?
Are the parents having to jump from siloed ministry to siloed ministry and maneuver new rules, regulations, different curricula, and communication styles when they enter each ministry?
How can ministries collaborate and help the families in your Church?
To be honest, I really wanted to title this blog “Stop, Collaborate, and Listen” and even though the title would work, we need to: Stop, Evaluate, Collaborate, Listen, and Change!
Not as catchy but I promise it is good!
The Language We Use
The first way we can collaborate in our age-specific ministry for the betterment of the families in our church is to stop using language that is only focused on your ministry.
Use words like “we” and “our team” and you will start to see connections to the ministries you all serve.
Consistency in Safety
Also, stop doing any volunteer onboarding or safety protocols differently from age to age.
There should be consistency in the seriousness of safety at every age.
I understand that each age has its own separate needs, but each volunteer should be given the same onboarding information and each ministry should focus on agreed safety protocols across age groups.
No parent should wonder if their child’s next ministry will be as safe as the last.
In my experience, safety and volunteer protocols get looser as the child ages and that should stop.
Ask the following questions to evaluate if what you are doing as individual ministries helps or hurts families.
- How many times a week do we expect our parents to be at the church?
- Do we encourage the family to be together or constantly divided?
- How many separate emails or social media pages must a family pay attention to?
- Does a family attending our church have the resources they need to parent at all ages and stages?
- Do we as a church have a curriculum strategy from “Diaper to Diploma”?
What can your ministry do to partner with the other ministries to make a more significant impact?
Here are some ideas to help shorten the distance between all the individual ministries and help your families:
- Host a family night that the whole family can participate in.
- Send one central email that will go out to all families with all the essential information in it.
- Use a church-wide family calendar.
- Make a faith milestone timeline to show families what you hope each child will learn as they move through your different environments.
- Have each ministry leader on the main stage at some point in the year to speak, preach, or host. You can use more than the Youth Pastor and your Kid’s Pastor would appreciate the moment to connect to an audience he/she rarely sees.
- Occasionally host a family service so the whole family can sit in church together.
A church that is for families will listen to families!
- Listen to the answers about how it feels to be a family in your church.
- Listen to the other ministry leaders and ask how you can help them.
- Use these answers to help you as your church builds its yearly plans.
- Focus on trying to find a curriculum that will help unify the families you serve.
Make sure you know your families, their needs, and how they feel it is best to address them before you start planning events and new initiatives.
Change is never easy, but you must do so because the growth of your church is too important to miss this.
If you want to have a vibrant, growing, and young church family you must have an amazing Children’s Ministry, but if you want to have members that stick around and raise their family in your church you must have a vibrant ministry conveyor belt.
It is not enough for the child to pass through a good nursery or a good Kid’s Ministry.
We want that child and that family to seamlessly pass through each grade and each ministry.
The only way to make this happen is to change how you do what you do.
- Communicate regularly with other ministry leaders in your church.
- Attend a conference together one time a year.
- Supply other leaders with easy elevator pitches for your ministry and learn one for theirs so you can tell a family something about each ministry.
- Develop a communal ministry language when asked about volunteer onboarding and safety.
- Ask your fellow ministry leaders “How can I help you?”
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 that we all play a particularly significant role in the body of Christ and the Church.
We cannot all do the same job or have the same body part.
We must fully operate in our special giftings, personality, and calling. However, we cannot neglect the other parts of the body and try to do everything on our own.
Utilize the other ministries in your church, support the body, and grow the church, one family, one child, and one ministry at a time.
Jen has 20 years of experience advocating and serving kids and families. Recently, she completed 10 years as the Kids Director at her local church, but remains focused on mentoring and coaching Kids Ministers. She loves speaking to and encouraging those in the thick of parenting or ministry. In her spare time, she loves coffee, long walks by the water, and vacations with her amazing husband and 3 sweet sons. She can be found sharing on Instagram @jenfaithedwards and her website.