Putting back the joy in children’s church
by Esme Schmitt
Many years ago I remember walking into a children’ church and thinking, “It’s so depressing here.” I did not base this conclusion on what people said or even the children’s church programme of the day. It was just simply a depressing place to be in.
This really distressed me and I decided to find out where this feeling came from. I started to talk to the children’s ministry team members about why they are serving in children’s church and soon found out…most of the teachers actually wanted to be in adult church. They felt trapped in children’s church and deprived of spiritual input.
Many children’s church pastors or senior leaders say they struggle to find people to serve in children’s church. The reason for this is mostly, “People rather want to be at church and not with the children.”
There is, though, a way to change these perceptions and to have waiting lists of people who want to join your children’s church. It all starts with shifting the atmosphere of your children church from depression/oppression to joy!
Children’s church is a place where we host the Presence of God and create opportunities for children to encounter God. Scripture clearly says that where the Presence of God is, there is fulness of joy. So children’s church should be a joyful place with lots of laughter.
Below are some suggestions for putting back the joy into children’s church:
- Gather all the children and children’s church team members in a group and ask them to sit. As a group, ask God to release His Joy over every child and adult. Wait on God and see what happens! I have had children breaking out into unstoppable fits of laughter – dancing around as they experience God’s joy.
- Cover all the kids with yellow material. Play gentle music and tell the kids to ask God the following, “Fill me with your joy”
- Use puppets, on a regular basis, when teaching Biblical truths. Children love puppets. They love their silly jokes, their funny voices and mannerisms.
- When you have completed the children’s church programme, play ‘funny’ videos. You will have both adults and kids rolling on the floor (in laughter) in minutes.
- Make this decision, “This children’s church is full of joy.” Every time you meet with the children’s ministry team, tell them this. Every time you meet with the kids, emphasise this. In fact, say it so many times that even congregants who have nothing to do with children’s church, start saying it!
- Take care of your children’s ministry team. Treat them with coffee and muffins on a Sunday morning, make sure they have enough time to attend adult services, make lesson plan preparations easy for teachers by providing lesson plans and all materials needed for the lesson and lastly…invite guest speakers or pastors in the church to regularly pray for your team!
- Develop this attitude, “In children’s church I receive everything I need. In fact, in children’s church I receive more than what I would have received in adult church. In children’s church I receive the fullness of His blessing and when I leave here I am filled up/fired up and full of joy.” This attitude will spread to the whole children’s ministry team.
- Play lots of games and do lots of dancing. Some games can be related to the topic you are teaching and other games can just be for fun! Many times I will finish off children’s church by putting on some music and allow the children dance freely. I will release balloons (you can even use smoke or a bubble machine) and just let the kids laugh and dance. (No adult can normally resist this kind of joy and soon every one joins in the fun). Sometimes I also make the dancing into a game, e.g. playing musical statues where when the music stops, every one has to freeze.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you could have fun with the children during children’s church. He has the best ideas and when you implement those brilliant thoughts, it will definitely shift the atmosphere in your children’s church.
- Become free to laugh again and to be joyful!
God promises us His joy and its time to release this Joy in children’s church!