by Cindy Grantham/ March 12, 2015
As children’s ministers it’s easy to buy into the idea that the greater our ministry’s entertainment value, the more successful our kids’ programs. More and more we try to up the ante to make worship more exciting and the church experience more stimulating week by week. But is this what really keeps the kids coming back? Is it how we measure our success?
The Intrinsic Value of Relationship
In his book, “Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child,” Dr. Tim Elmore relates that this generation of kids has launched the “experience economy” where children now “expect all of their senses to be involved in all aspects of life”  But let’s not confuse the term “experience” to relate only to entertainment. It is important that we as children’s ministers don’t fail to recognize the immense value of true relationship with those God has entrusted to our ministry.
Below are several basic strategies that are vital for a healthy kids’ ministry.
Get on their level.
When talking to a child, kneel or sit so that you can look them in the eye. Towering over them can seem intimidating to a child. When you get on their level, a child is more likely to open up and respond to you.
Call children by name and remember what’s important to them.
That children feel welcome and experience the church as a “family” atmosphere, powerfully influences their coming to know and understand Jesus. Did a child share last week that they needed prayer for an important test? Is a grandfather sick? Or has a dog run away? Recalling and asking about these small things may not seem important to you, but a child will recognize that you have remembered his need personally and that you care, just as Christ remembers and cares.
Respond with patience and love.
All children’s ministers will be faced with behavior issues. But when a leader can address an issue with patience, love, and forgiveness, we are modeling Jesus before them.
Allow them to share their gifts and talents.
A kids’ pastor I know allows his students to share an exciting story or special talent in front of their peers at the beginning of each Wednesday night service. It allows the leader to get to know the kids on a more personal level, as well as helping the kids to learn about each other. This builds camaraderie in the classroom and gives each child a sense of belonging.
More than rocking worship and captivating Bible story videos, we need to personally impart the love of Jesus to kids and their parents. The true mark of a healthy kids’ ministry is that the children leave with a sense of connectivity—that they are a part of something bigger than themselves and that they were created for a purpose—God’s purpose.
 Tim Elmore, Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child (Nashville, TN Thomas Nelson, 2001), 19.