How Churches Can Fall Short

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There are a lot of churches that have very creative and energetic programming, and a lot of churches have passionate and talented volunteers who work directly with children.  These are great characteristics to have for any Children's Ministry, since it is important to engage kids where they are.  But in my experience, there are two main areas that I think churches fall short in -- curriculum and leader development.

Curriculum.  Let's not even talk about churches that don't use a Bible-based curriculum (I've heard stories of preschoolers only watching Disney movies during Sunday School).  My concern for now are those that have a curriculum that focuses too much on values and behaviors, instead of the Gospel.  Values and behaviors are important, but what the goal needs to be is true heart change that comes from a understanding of and a full trust in the Gospel.  So many curricula focus on "Jesus is my friend," "Love others as you want to be loved," "Make the wise choice," "Share your things," "Do what your parents tell you to do," and so on.  Similar to what we talked about with Biblical vs. Gospel parenting, we need to teach children who God is (especially that He is holy and supreme), that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that He offers His grace freely and not based on their deeds.  Again, with values-based curriculum, my fear is that we produce moralists (where children grow up thinking that they are "pretty good" because they do lots of good deeds) or that we produce children that like the concept of a "friend-God" but do not give Him proper reverence and worship.  Children don't only need values and principles; they need the Gospel.  They need to be led to understand that they have to depend on Christ for heart change, not just do things that they can muster up their own strength for.

Leader Development.  When you search the internet and Christian bookstores for ideas on equipping volunteers, you can find great thoughts on recruiting, training, and appreciating volunteers.  I myself have been blessed by many of those sources, using them in my ministry.  But besides recruiting, training, and encouraging volunteers, we need to be intentional to point them to Christ, to help them become mature disciples.  And when I talk about leader development, I don't just mean volunteers who work with kids; I also mean Children's Ministry volunteers who are leaders over other volunteers.  Pouring into leaders of children is a very important role, since they are on the "front line" every week.  But for the long-term and for the greatest opportunities to build God's kingdom, we need to raise up, empower, and develop leaders of leaders.  This usually involves having them lead in areas that may not always be easy, but this in itself can a good thing.  It is a good thing to for people to be in situations where they struggle a little, where they have to encounter frustrations, especially with people.  Why?  They need to be in a place that forces them to seek and depend on Christ; that is how they can grow.  Also, when they lead at this level, they can reach a group of people that you never could, to pass on the vision for the ministry.  We need to remember that Children's Ministry is not just about kids; it's also about the volunteers.

I believe that we the church can offer these things -- Gospel-based curriculum and leader development -- while also having programming that is engaging and welcoming.

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  1. At Wellspring we are using Children Desiring God Curriculum for the very reason you state here. I highly recommend the intergenerational approach of "The Righteous Shall Live by faith"
    This will also allow us to explore and implement a intergenerational approach to youth ministry as our children grow older.

  2. I do like the CDG curriculum a lot, as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. We started using One Story Ministry this year,
    They offer a home family worship and more.