When I first heard this statement, I had images of 7-year-olds driving minivans, piling adults in the back and keeping them quiet with Cheerios whilst on their way to church. I’ve since learned that what the statement implies is the changing reality of the modern Canadian family. When I was a kid, my parents “dragged” me to church whether I wanted to or not. The opposite is true today in many cases; in order for Mom and Dad to go to church, the children must want to go.
Churches that understand this do 4 things ….
1. They Create an Environment that says “Kids Are Number 1”.
It’s not enough to just be “kid-friendly”, a church needs to be “kid-crazy”. The signage, the environment, the language, the budget, and the details all need to scream “We are all about kids!” Kids can’t be an afterthought; they need to be a primary target the church is trying to reach. You can tell if this is true by looking at the check-in process, the children’s areas, the faces of the volunteers, and the attitude of the leadership.
2. They Engage in the Discipleship of Children.
We’re not simply talking childcare for the hour. Churches that are engaged in the discipleship of kids see the long game and treat each moment with children as the opportunity to train and equip kids for every good work in Christ Jesus. They teach kids to pray, read their Bible, apply solid Biblical principles to real-life situations, and share their faith with their friends. Discipleship means moving beyond the games and fishy crackers and into a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. They Cast Vision for Children’s Ministry.
Barely a week goes by where you don’t hear or see something pertaining to Children at the Church. This is because they can be easy to forget – check them in and see them in an hour. However, churches that get this, integrate children into the life of the church; they give them serving opportunities, they put them on the platform, they tell stories of what is happening in the lives of children, and they regularly pray for their kids.
4. They Keep Their Kids.
A strategic plan to track and keep kids all through the key transition points is an absolute must for every church. Looking at the transition from elementary to Jr. High and from Jr. High to High School and from High School to Young Adults forces the church to be intentional about what happens during those times. This is often where the younger generation stops being engaged in the life of the church. A church that is constantly wrestling with the challenge of keeping their kids will be far more successful in this than the church that hopes for the best.
I’ve seen churches grow by simply focusing on kid’s ministry. Kids bring families and other kids (who also bring their families). The next time you are in the parking lot of your church, check and see who’s driving.