When the distance between kids' church and "big" church becomes too vast, young people struggle to relate to the reality of the church they progress into. The transition becomes a giant leap rather than a natural development, which can push young people away.
In fact, a study by LifeWay Research shows that two-thirds of young people stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. College and work commitments are significant factors, but a welcoming and supportive transition could help.
If your goal is to change how your church sees kids and teenagers, the first step is to look at how you run your ministry. Are most of your events age-based? Does the kidmin department have communication with the other ministry teams?
Creating connectedness starts with leadership, and changing perception takes time, but we think it is worth it. A stronger community will form when you urge the church to see kids and teens as a positive influence, so follow these tips to get started and bring your church together.
Mixed Age Group Events
Sometimes, having kids-only events for specific ages is necessary. Hosting preschool get-togethers and teen gatherings helps the youngsters of your ministry build deep friendships that last a lifetime.
Throwing all the kids in together can be counterproductive, as they can have vastly different ideas of what fun is, and the same goes for adult-only events. Surely, kids who attended wouldn’t actually enjoy themselves, right?
Planning events that appeal to your community as a whole is a skill. Get thinking of fun activities where everyone can get stuck in, from all-inclusive BBQs where everyone can get to know each other better to fundraising bake sales where everyone can work together.
Special Services Together
Traditionally kids are separated from adults for the Sunday sermon. Most churches assume that children won’t understand the topics covered during "big" church, but this sometimes leaves children’s church a bit empty. Sometimes, it ends up as little more than a babysitting service.
Family units are divided when they step through the church doors, which is why some ministries are turning away from the divide entirely. There are countless benefits of group worship, so encourage your pastor to lead simpler sermons that the whole family can enjoy.
Or, instead of scrapping youth church entirely, why not test the waters with mixed services for special occasions? Host bi-monthly get-togethers where everyone attends the same service, and it will become something people of all ages look forward to.
Congregant Volunteer Leaders
Extend your invitation to help out in the kids' ministry to all congregants instead of just parents. When welcomed to help, church members without kids of their own might love to get involved too.
This gets adults directly involved in the children’s ministry, giving them an insight into how it’s run. Bridge the gap between different ministries by offering them the chance to bond.
When you address the helping hands of your kids' ministry as leaders rather than workers, their perspectives will shift. Their influence is needed to lead the next generation into the world, and they are the people trusted to do it.
Live By a Unified Mission
When distance begins to grow between the different ministries of your church, it is essential to reflect on your mission statement. Is it still relevant to the goals of your community? Does it extend to all corners of your church?
Children’s ministry and adult ministry should run in alignment with the same vision, as two parts of the same whole. One foolproof way of checking the effectiveness of your mission statement is to ask all the leaders what they believe the mission is — the answers could surprise you.
Refreshing the overall mission could be needed to bring kids and adults back together, but don't be afraid of the change. Similarly, if the kids' ministry curriculum isn't in alignment with the mission, it could be time for something different. Nothing will hold your church back when all efforts push toward the same goal.
Prioritize Fun and Share It
Getting youth involved in church activities is a whole lot easier when it’s on the basis of fun, so remember to let the kids and teens of your ministry express themselves in an exciting and dynamic way.
Let their individuality shine through by giving them the freedom to get creative. A short play written and directed by the high-schoolers but acted out by all age groups is a bonding experience for all members of your children’s ministry.
When performed to the adult congregants, it builds bonds with them, too! The production of lively endeavors like these also offers the perfect opportunity to get adult volunteers involved to share their skills with the children.
When you encourage meaningful interactions between church members of all ages, they will realize that the youth of the church is simply a different part of the church. It is not a separate entity. The truth is, the distance between adults and kids in ministry tends to reproduce itself. If the gap gets too big, it is hard to put a lid on it.
After all, few adults would sign up to volunteer in a kids' ministry they know nothing about.
Influencing change starts from the very basics, like the central mission statement and how often the whole congregation gathers together. Embrace the possibilities that come from a collective community by transforming your church into a family.