If you want to see how healthy a church is, go to their nursery. Go to their preschool area. Go to their elementary area. Go to their pre-teen area. A healthy church has a healthy children's ministry.
A healthy children's ministry reflects a healthy church volunteer culture. A healthy children's ministry is made possible by a healthy volunteer team. And healthy children's ministry volunteer teams are normally made possible because the entire church has a healthy volunteer culture. You can walk into a church's children's ministry area and see how healthy the church is by the number and quality of volunteers you see serving.
Just because a church sends people to volunteer on a mission's trip a few times a year doesn't mean it's healthy. It's the week in and week out serving roles that reflect true health. This is not saying that missions trips are not important. They are extremely important. But I believe true church health is measured in volunteers serving faithfully in roles that take long-term commitment.
A healthy children's ministry shows a church's commitment to reaching the next generation. Psalm 78 makes it clear what a church's commitment should be to the next generation.
For He issued his laws to Jacob, He gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.
I believe the health of a church is not measured by the sound of its worship team, but by the sound of children in the hallways. I believe the health of a church is not measured by the size of its auditorium, but by the size of its children's space. I believe the health of a church is not measured by the quality of its coffee shop or cafe, but by the quality of its preschool program. I believe the health of a church is not measured by the dynamic sermons of its pastor, but by the dynamic lessons of its elementary teachers. I believe the health of a church is not measured by the dpi's of the projectors in the "main service," but by its investment in pre-teens.
A healthy children's ministry shows that a church is reaching young families. Healthy churches reach young families. This is not to diminish the importance of reaching and ministering to senior adults. Just as a healthy family is comprised of all generations, a healthy church family is comprised of all generations...babies...children...students...
young adults...middle age adults...senior adults. But if a church is predominately grey-haired, then it is not reaching all generations.
A church that is not reaching young families doesn't have a future. A church that is not reaching young families is not relevant. A church that is not reaching young families is more concerned about preserving the past than it is about effectively proclaiming the Gospel to the next generation.
A healthy children's ministry shows that a church is generous. A church that is generous invests in those who can't "pay their own way." A church that is generous makes sure that the children's ministry budget is a priority. This is reflected in children's ministry staffing, operating budget, physical space and programming.
And here is what I believe. God will bless the church financially that invests in children's ministry. Jesus made it clear that when you give a cup of water to a child, you are giving it to Him. Investing in children's ministry ushers in Jesus' presence, power and financial blessings into a church.
A healthy children's ministry shows that a church is growing. I believe that children's ministry is one of the keys to growing a healthy church. Take a look inside the fastest growing churches in the country and you will see without exception that they have a healthy, growing children's ministry. The key to reaching parents is by reaching their children. Kids can't drive themselves to church. Get them excited about coming to church and they will drag their parents with them. A church that doesn't have room to grow in its children's area will plateau church-wide. If you want to grow a healthy church, then focus on growing a healthy children's ministry.
Is the children's ministry in your church healthy? Is it growing? Is it a priority? If you'd like to elevate the importance of children's ministry in your church, then join us for a live webinar on Thursday, April 6th. I will be sharing about why children's ministry must be a priority in churches and my friend, Ricardo Miller, will be sharing practical steps you can take to make your children's ministry a priority in your church. The session will be recorded as well so you can share it with your church leadership. You can get more information and register at this link.