by Mark Entzminger/ March 9, 2015
If you’re in children’s ministry you know the importance of healthy role models, community, and giving children a sense of security. In fact, a recent post by Portland Leadership revealed some new scientific evidence regarding the increasingly large void of community for America’s children.
According to the study, a lack of connectedness has lead to deterioration in mental and behavioral health of children in the USA. This crisis is resulting in high and rising rates of depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.
And in large part, these alarming problems are due to one major problem: a lack of connectedness. So how can children’s ministries help to meet the needs of a generation of kids who are losing close and deep connectedness to others?
Seven Characteristics of a Healthy Kids’ Ministry
1. It treats children as ends in themselves. Children receive attention and focus. They’re not just babysat while parents attend classes and services. Kids are invested in and taught the truths of the gospel.
2. It is warm and nurturing. A healthy kids’ ministry is a place that children want to be. Every child is welcomed and feels like they belong.
3. It establishes clear limits and expectations. Children need boundaries at home, at school, and at church. The kids in your ministry need to know the rules and what behavior is expected from them. This kind of clarity breeds trust and a feeling of safety.
4. It is multi-generational. A healthy kids’ ministry gives children the opportunity to be mentored by several generations of volunteers. Not only should your ministry be staffed by people with their own young kids, but you should also look for teens and senior adults to get involved.
5. It has a long-term focus. Your healthy kids’ ministry invests in the kids in your ministry not only because every child needs to hear the gospel and be loved, but also because these kids are the future of the church. A healthy kids’ ministry has direction and goals that not only reflect this year, but also much further down the road.
6. It reflects and transmits a shared understanding of what it means to follow God. The kids in your ministry should be clear on the goals your ministry has for each child. They should be continually taught who God is, why He came, and why we follow Him.
7. It teaches kids that everyone has value and is equally loved in God’s eyes. A healthy kids’ ministry communicates the value of each child apart from their behavior. They should know that they are made in the image of God. They are loved and valued.
Bottom Line: A healthy kids’ ministry can make all the difference in the life of a child. Without an intentional effort to connect kids to the life-changing community taking place in your ministry, our children will grow up to be a generation that looks for connections outside of the place God intended them to find true community.
How does the health of your children’s ministry stack up with this list?