Children’s Ministry–Now This Is Fun!

Children’s Ministry–Now This Is Fun!
by Annette Oden
Children's Ministry--Now This Is Fun!
Award-winning recording artist and veteran children’s minister Annette Oden shows us trends in children’s ministry that we can celebrate!

 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but local fellowships of believers are far different than just ten years ago. It isn’t just the prevalence of cafés or the absence of the Sunday night service, though those are worth noting. It’s that families are different, society is rapidly changing, and that has necessitated change within our local bodies. Our values have changed…and changed actions must result.

It wasn’t so long ago that we practically lived at the church. Sundays were jam-packed from Sunday school and worship services in the morning to afternoon activities. Meetings of every kind and special rehearsals filled our Sunday afternoons, and those led straight into Sunday evening services for adults while missions-themed clubs for children were being held. Wednesday nights included family-night suppers, children’s choirs, adult Bible study services, and adult choir rehearsal after church. Various other special events filled the other days and nights of the week. We loved every minute. We lived at the church.

Over the past few years, most of that has changed. Church is simpler. We value the family time of those in our congregations. As church leaders, we value our own family time and have refused to sacrifice our own families on the altar of ministering to others. Lessons have been learned as we’ve watched other leaders. We’ve begun to prioritize our lives in different ways than leaders in previous generations. We value serving our communities, getting outside the walls, not waiting for pre-believers to come to us! Instead of Sunday school, we meet in small, relational groups during the week in homes and even in coffee shops. We live more transparently than we ever have. Sunday night services do not exist at most churches. Wednesday nights are contemporary and full of younger people: children, youth, and young adults. These children and youth are so hungry for more of God that you can see it in their faces; you can hear it in their conversations. Watch and listen. They are not interested in dead, dry religion but are most definitely interested in a real God shown to them by authentic leaders, living real lives. This generation, once aimed in the right direction, cannot be stopped.

Musically, the landscape is very different as well. Where adult choirs still exist (and they always will in some form), they are often operating in harmony with a praise team. It is not unusual to hear of children’s choirs operating not at all or only for special events, like a Christmas or Easter musical, instead of during the entire August to May season.

So what does this all mean? “Why have you taken us through the history of where we’ve been to where we are now?” I’m glad you asked. I believe we cannot really determine where we are now and where we will go from here without stopping to look at our history. After we’ve done that, we are faced with a choice. We can (a) whine about our perceived losses and stubbornly continue to do what we’ve “always done,” expecting that eventually the entire world will change to accommodate us…or….(b) we can look realistically and gladly at the changes in our world and embrace them so we can move on to where Christ is at work now. As an optimist, I’m assuming you are choosing Option (b).

There are so many God-placed, God-timed, creative ideas for letting kids bloom in these great days. It would be a shame to miss them! Here are some of the ways things are better today:

  1. Parents want to partner with church leaders to teach and guide their children, but they don’t expect us to do it for them nearly as much as ten years ago.
  2. Because we’ve realized it’s as important to build strong relationships between our kids as it is to preach to them, we’re having more fun with them than ever before!
  3. Musically, we have more to offer. Hymns are a solid tradition. With so many in new musical settings, hymns are more appealing to children and their families than ever before, especially when we find a creative way to pair the old with the new. Worship songs are flavored by every musical genre you can you think of. From traditional to contemporary to rock to country to rap and everything in between, there is no shortage of great music.
  4. Because we often are not doing children’s choir for 9 months straight, we can partner happily with another children’s ministry in our church and enjoy the multiplied blessings of shared experiences with our kids and with other leaders who love them. If that doesn’t appeal to you, ask yourself this question: Am I here for just for the music or to share God with kids? This is no competition, my friend. We have to get honest, examining ourselves and our motives if we want to move forward.
  5. Children’s praise teams, children’s dance teams, children’s art teams, children’s drama teams, AND children’s choirs all have their place in today’s Church world and live outside of a musical! I think that’s worth celebrating. It is worth thinking through, as we know the platform God has given them in these great days is so enlarged. They can participate in children’s church services on a regular basis and often in “Big Church” with adult praise teams or choir. They can go out into the community to sing and more! Take your children’s choir or dance team to the local homeless shelter and serve people who are less fortunate. Take them to the park on a Saturday afternoon to sing and dance, then share Popsicles and play with the kids who are there. Plan an art exhibit downtown with your children’s worship art team in the lead. Invite other churches and their young artists to participate with you. Make it a fun event worth a family’s Saturday morning! So many ideas are filling my head and my heart at this moment that I can hardly sit here and keep writing. I’m ready to GO. \o/

We have so much to be thankful for and too many powerfully fun things to be about with this generation that we really don’t have time for missing the past. Come on. Let’s celebrate and really live to make a difference right now. After all, this life is not a rehearsal…

 

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