Anyone in kids’ ministry knows that there are dozens of needs and moving parts that make Sundays happen. With the roles of volunteers, needs of kids and parents, various personalities, fluctuating safety procedures, and more . . . it can be challenging to know how to cater to it all while still maintaining excellence in our kids’ environment each week.

Here in sunny Florida at Church by the Glades, I get to partner with some of the best children’s leaders in the galaxy to teach kids two things—to embrace Jesus and His Word. In order for that to happen, I believe we must create excellent experiences for our kids and preteens in three ways. 

Make the church experience fun.

Imagine it’s Christmas morning, and you receive a present in a huge box. The suspense and excitement builds in you as you wonder, “What’s in the box?!” In kids’ ministry, we want this same excitement to build in our kids and preteens when they anticipate church on Sunday.

So . . . my question to you is this: What tools are in your box to make your kids’ ministry environment fun

Early in my ministry experience, I would have suggested tangible items like games, toys, or candy. However, the last several months have required us to rethink fun in kids’ ministry. Our team has had to get creative in how we use the tools in our box, one tool being our YouTube Channel. This channel has allowed us to create a custom experience for our kids to keep the fun going throughout the pandemic. We use the 15-minute online Orange experience and merge it with our own content at the beginning and end of the video. Kids can use the QR code to find the service and press play at the same time the pastor starts to preach in the parents’ service. These separate experiences finish around the same time.

By creating a custom kids’ service through YouTube, we’ve been able to keep kids engaged in church so they don’t forget about us. In your ministry, consider getting creative with the tools in your box to keep kids having fun!

Make sure the right people are doing the right jobs. 

Volunteers are the heart of kids’ ministry, and it’s these people who can make excellent experiences for kids and preteens. To keep families coming back, we must make sure the right people are doing the right jobs. For instance, the front door to your kids’ space is your ministry magnet! The people in this position should be full of energy, outgoing, and wear huge smiles. As you ponder the people in each position in your ministry, ask yourself: Who’s at the front door?

Sometimes when thinking about the people you have in each position, you may come across someone who isn’t the right fit. While it may seem easier to spare feelings, the truth is . . . good intentions aren’t enough to have a successful team. We’re doing our volunteers an injustice if we leave them in the wrong place. Instead of removing them from that role, we can “speak the truth in love” just like Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15. When speaking the truth in love, it’s oftentimes received in love. And who knows? Maybe their smile will blossom by replanting them in an area that will help them bloom. 

Think about what will bring families back to church. 

I love action movies, probably because of those stingers after the credits roll. Sometimes, my wife and I will sit in the theatre for fifteen minutes, just waiting on the twenty-second stinger. Why? Because it gives me hope there will be another movie. It keeps me coming back to the theatre.

To keep kids and families coming back, you must ask yourself: What are the stinger moments in my kids’ ministry?

These stingers may be as short as the twenty-second ones after the credits, but they aren’t small. Your stinger might be calling kids by their names to show them that they matter. It might be intentionally connecting with one child each week and teaching your staff and volunteers to do the same. Kids notice these moments of connection, and it’s one thing that draws them back to church week after week. 

Not only do kids notice these moments of connection, but parents do too. When parents see another adult showing interest in their child, a deep connection forms. In our ministry, I know many parents who have come to know Jesus simply because of the connections their child has made at the church. Lastly, we can uplift parents with encouragement, positivity, and love to draw them back. By doing this, we’re giving them hope—the greatest stinger of all.

As we get our volunteers and staff to buy-in to these three things, we’ll create an environment that goes beyond clocking in and clocking out, or getting service hours for school. With fun, people, and the actions of our team, our environment will radiate excellence in Jesus’ name.