We all know that a truly effective children’s ministry sets up the conditions to nurture young people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. However, defining effective ministry is difficult and so LOGOS has developed a free resource to help churches evaluate current strengths and challenges and identify areas that need more resources and attention—to figure out what really matters and what really makes a difference in the lives of the children.
The Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model is formatted so that ministry leaders can make individual assessments and then gather together as a team to discuss observations, discern “cause and effect” connections and make decisions about priorities to move ahead with change. The effectiveness tool is not intended as a survey to be used to tabulate opinions but as a basis for conversation and ultimately for action for making a greater impact with our ministries for children.
The model is built around three primary dimensions that are at the heart of a comprehensive view of ministry. Each of these dimensions lists factors that are the plumb line for evaluating effectiveness.
Are we purposeful? Is our congregation intentional about why a children’s ministry is vital for our church?
- Do we demonstrate a commitment to children in our budget, in our worship, in our policies?
- Are we offering more than just “babysitting” alongside adult activities?
- Are we committed to exercising clear rules and boundaries to protect and empower the children?
- Is the ministry for children a balanced approach which nurtures the mind, body and soul and not one aspect alone?
- Are the clergy clearly engaged and supportive enough to lead integration of the children’s ministry into the whole life of the church?
Are we practical? Does the congregation have an effective plan and approach for implementing and sustaining the children’s ministry?
- Do we equip and support parents in their role as primary spiritual guide for their children?
- Do we use a prayerful process to call adults into leadership or do we twist arms and shake trees to find recruits to teach the second grade?
- Are we supporting our leaders through training and adequate preparation?
- Is there a high ratio of adults to children in everything that we offer?
- Do we fully understand the needs of each age group and offer opportunities that reflect that understanding?
- Is our Bible study curriculum chosen in a purposeful manner and coordinated among various areas throughout the church (Sunday school, mid-week ministry, Vacation Bible School, etc.)?
- Do our children regularly lead in worship?
- Is the children’s ministry open to the community and does it attract new families?
Are we impactful? Is the effect of the children’s ministry truly reflective of ministry so that are we making a difference in lives?
- Do we see spiritual growth from year to year in the children’s commitment to Christ?
- Are the relationships within the ministry based on Christ’s example to treat everyone as a child of God?
- Are there observable healthy and active inter-generational relationships—within the ministry and beyond?
- Is there a low turnover of children year after year and are they bringing their friends?
- Is the ministry sustainable and not tied to a specific personality or leader?
- Do we involve more of the community outside of our congregation—who then become more connected to the church and to God?
- Does our church actively support other churches to cooperatively work for the benefit of all of the children?
The Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model can be downloaded for free from the LOGOS Library. One practical way to use the tool is to distribute a copy to each of your children’s ministry committee members or leadership team. The model is set up with a color code for identifying your insight into how your church is doing with each of the factors. Give the factor a “green” if you believe you are strong in that area and can build on that capability. A “yellow” means you think you are just “ok” in that area and would benefit from some improvement and a “red” means the church is inadequate and needs some definite work in that particular factor.
After each team member has completed the effectiveness model by tagging each factor with a particular color, gather the group together for a discussion about their observations. Hand out red, yellow and green stickers or colored markers to each person and ask them to transfer their ratings to the factors posted on large sheets of paper up on the wall. You will then be able to see the predominant (or mixed) colors – identifying strengths and weaknesses – immediately.
Begin by looking at the IMPACTFUL factors and discussing the areas that need improvement there first. Circle your top two-three factors based on your conversation and colors. Then move to PURPOSEFUL and PRACTICAL and also identify top several weak areas. Finally, look for connections. What areas could you improve in PURPOSEFUL and PRACTICAL in order to make a bigger IMPACT in ministry?
Your team will next move from discerning the areas needing work to making decisions about making change for improvement. You will need to brainstorm and research resources, training, and other action to be taken by your congregation. Create a timeline and determine who will do what, building in accountability and checkpoints. The more intentional we are about making needed change, the more likely we are to implement for more effective ministry with children.
Liz Perraud is the Executive Director of GenOn Ministries, a non-denominational Christian organization that works in partnership with local church leaders to build disciples of Jesus Christ through intergenerational relationships.