Children’s Ministry has a lot of “moving pieces”. There are Bible classes, special events, holidays and a myriad of other details to manage. It is easy to get so distracted serving the children already involved in your ministry, that you forget to make finding and involving new children a top priority.
Yet, it is hard to imagine Jesus leading a children’s ministry and not doing everything he could to reach new children and teach them about God. Even if you have that same passion for finding and including new children in your ministry though, you may struggle with deciding upon the most effective way to encourage children from the community to attend your Bible classes and other programs.
In our interactions with churches and ministries all over the world, we see many great ideas. Here are some of our favorites.
- Puppet theater. We visited a church in Canada who met in an old store front across from a park where many children played. They had a large front window left from the original store. They converted it into a puppet stage. Local children were encouraged to attend their regular puppet shows and invited back to Bible classes and worship the next day.
- Importing a new sport or game. This has worked well for churches in Honduras and Ukraine. In Honduras, they offered to teach children basketball and run an informal league. In Ukraine, they went to a local park and offered to teach kids a fun new game from another country. In the process, they had conversations about God and church. Participants were sent home with fliers or invites to Bible classes and worship.
- Provide school supplies. Urban ministries in the U.S. and churches in Mexico, Honduras and Ukraine have found this to be a great outreach. They collect donated school supplies then offer to give them to families who would normally be unable to afford them for their children. Supplies are either given out during a Bible class time or invitations to church are given with the supplies.
- Special needs ministry. Congregations in many places have begun a ministry for children with special needs. Volunteers receive special training. Children are mainstreamed in regular Bible classes with adult volunteers. If they are unable to stay in the classroom with their peers for some reason, a special room is set aside for them to calm or have a private Bible lesson. There are a variety of special materials available to enable them to participate and learn as much about God as possible.
- Plays and concerts. Churches around the world have used plays and concerts to introduce their ministry to new children. Local children may be invited to participate or as audience members. Special care is taken to invite them back for Bible classes and worship.
- Enrichment classes. Churches in many countries offer free English lessons. In the U.S., free Spanish lessons are another way to find new children. It would be possible to also offer classes in skills like computer coding. The most success happens in programs that include the Bible in natural ways in the lessons – like teaching fun children’s Bible classes in the new language or teaching kids to design apps or code games involving Bible stories.
- Neighborhood events. Mother – daughter book clubs. Backyard vacation Bible schools. Neighborhood cooking lessons for kids. A variety of events can be hosted in the homes or yards of members who in turn invite their neighbors. All of the events have a strong tie to Bible lessons – like learning to cook foods that would have been eaten in Bible times or reading Christian books for kids as part of the mother – daughter book club. Neighborhood events need to intentionally ask families to attend their church or can be used as the beginning of a new church plant.
There are many other creative things you can do. Whenever possible, try to include some connection to the Bible or God within the activity. Make sure all of the volunteers from your church are encouraged to ask community members to Bible classes and worship services.
Often community outreach events aren’t very successful, because no one actually invites people back for Bible classes or worship services. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to find new children and invite them to attend your Bible classes and ministry events. You may find God multiplies your ministry more than you can imagine.