I have been in the ministry for around 19 years now, most of the time serving as a children’s pastor. Before that I volunteered in college teaching Sunday School, helping with VBS and counseling during summer camp. I guess after all that time, children’s ministry sort of runs in my blood. Many times after an idea I came up with turned out to be a good idea (not all of them have turned out that way!), someone would ask me where I came up with the idea in the first place.
I would answer that question with a simple statement, “I am constantly looking for new ways to share God’s truth with kids.” I would watch my own kids, the kids in my family, and kids in our church. I still do this, trying to put myself into their world to find out what they like, how they think and why they get excited. I want kids who come into my ministry venues to be excited about learning about Jesus! I hope they want to come back again and again. My prayer is they will tell their friends to come with them.
So I look and observe all the time. I watch their shows and movies, play with their toys and visit their hotspots. I talk to children’s entertainers. I observe kids at shows and festivals. What is attracting the biggest attention at the amusement parks? What sort of things do parents and kids love to do together? We recently visited a park in Rapid City, South Dakota called Storybook Island. The video in this post has lots of pictures of our family in this amazing, free place!
My brain was bursting with ideas as I watched my kids and other kids happily play on the various statues, forts, playgrounds, miniature homes and vehicles. I loved to see parents engaging in their children’s lives as they played and laughed together. My thoughts were bouncing around like a super ball. Here were a few that came to my mind: Kids love to act out stories they have seen or heard. Families are always looking for fun and affordable things to do together. Parents treasure real keepsakes of their child, not cheap crafts (we had some silhouettes done of our three youngest boys) . Kids need a place to burn off energy. Kids learn by doing, not just by hearing or seeing. Kids and parents alike enjoy something unique and special. Kids love to have their parents experience things with them!
If you work with children and your church or in your profession, do you make an effort to notice things like this when you are out and about? Do you watch and engage with the children in your personal life? Are you always on the lookout for a good illustration, a special guest speaker or new gadget to introduce your kids to? Let me say two things in an effort to stay balanced. First of all, I do not recommend being so focused on learning about what kids like that you do not take time to play with your kids! You are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle first and you should not spend your quality time with them obsessing
over how to use a cool new toy in children’s church! Secondly, do not fall for the trick that leads you into thinking that fun and new are the answer to being a good children’s pastor or volunteer. Truth and relationships are the bedrock to form a great children’s ministry! That said, be observant and aware of the kids around you and you will find yourself armed with some great ideas on how to share love and truth with the kids in your church!