Houston. We have a problem.
It is no secret that it’s tough for children’s ministry leaders these days. Older workers have not come back into the Sunday School classrooms like we’d hoped, and it’s difficult to recruit new workers when the church has spent the past 18 months online.
The church will have a hard time growing its young and median adult groups without excellence in its ministry to kids. People who lead their church’s Bible-teaching ministry to its youngest members now feel defeated, down, and depressed. As one state leader in Texas just told me, “Those staff leaders feel like they’ve failed because they can’t staff their classrooms adequately.”
But there is a simple path forward: Adoption.
I am proposing a solution to the crisis that is taking place in kids ministries everywhere. It starts and ends with adult Bible study groups. Those of us who lead adult groups are the church’s solution to meeting the needs of preschoolers and children. Here’s how.
Consider a post-pandemic world in which one adult Bible study group “adopts” a class of preschoolers or kids. It’s just that simple. Here’s how this would work:
- An adult group adopts a preschool or kids’ class that has no teacher. One adult group takes ownership for staffing one group for kids.
- Once the adult group knows which kids group it’s going to adopt, the adult group prays for God to call two group members to be the teachers for the kids’ class. The adult group leader encourages group members to leave the group for a year and provide leadership to the class for kids.
- The adult group “commissions” those two new group leaders after they are approved by kids ministry leaders. The adult group leader sets aside time one Sunday to lead the adult group to pray for the leaders it will send out, the group encourages the new set of teachers, and the group commits to not only pray for them but to minister to them during their year of service.
- Once a month, the adult group sends two other group members into the class they’ve adopted while the teachers they originally sent to lead the group return to the adult group for the day. This monthly sabbatical helps those full-time teachers maintain ties to their friends and fellow adults (which is one reason adults don’t like to leave their group to serve – they are afraid they’ll be forgotten, missing out on needed adult bonding and fellowship).
- By rotating a different set of teachers into the kids’ classroom monthly, other adults in the group are able to serve part-time, meeting the needs of the full-time teachers for adult fellowship. They also learn how to serve and teach in the church’s ministry to kids without taking the bigger leap of being teachers for a year.
- In time, the additional adults who rotate into the kids’ classroom discover the joy of serving kids and their parents, and may possibly become the adult groups’ next set of “missionaries to kids.”
How would this change your church’s ministry to kids? It would have some tremendous implications. Here are “Ken’s 10” – my top ten reasons why there are advantages to adult groups adopting kids’ groups:
- Your church’s minister to kids would be incredibly encouraged. Times are tough for them right now.
- Your adult group could have an ongoing ministry. As growing disciples, we should serve others.
- Adult group members could have a simple way to serve and use their gifts. A couple of them would be “full-time” teachers. Others would become prayer partners for the kids’ class. Still others would become substitute teachers, rather than just “sitting and soaking” in their adult group.
- Kids would have a stable set of teachers each week.
- Your church’s minister to kids could focus on building relationships with parents instead of constantly trying to recruit teachers and subs each week.
- Your guests would see the same adults in their kids’ groups weekly, helping them to feel great about leaving their children in your church’s care.
- The teachers your group sends into those kids’ classrooms would develop relationships with children and their parents.
- Your church would not have to pay for workers.
- The children would have a better experience in the classroom because they’d grow to know and trust their “permanent” teachers.
- The anxiety children feel when different adults are rotated into the group each week would be eliminated.
What I have proposed in today’s blog post is not a big leap – it’s a short step to doing the right thing in our churches. Leaders of children’s classes should flow out of adult groups. Adult group leaders should always encourage people to leave their groups to serve – it emulates the posture of Jesus who left heaven to serve us when we were helpless and lost in sin. Serving others is one mark of a growing disciple, and adopting a kids’ group is a way for an entire adult group to become part of serving others.
Talk about this with your pastor and other staff leaders. Share this post. Help get the word out that there’s a better path forward, and a better way for us to help our church’s ministry to kids!
Let’s adopt some kids’ groups and emerge from the pandemic in better shape than ever before in our kids’ ministries!