Church attendance patterns are changing. If a family makes it to church a couple times per month, it’s good. This may require children’s ministry leaders to become a little more strategic. It makes building relationships and building lessons each week more difficult.
To complicate it, there are three levels of attendance patterns: those children who are there every Sunday, those who are regulars, but not every week and those who are marginally connected and show up sporadically.
We always want to minister to those who respond. We also want to develop a ministry to children that helps create an atmosphere where kids bring their parents! Not that we have to provide flashy entertainment, but we need to be real, offer hope in Jesus, and create ways for children to experience the love of Christ in tangible ways.
The ideas below are geared toward helping include families at all levels of connection:
Document The Progress
It’s good to have a place where you document what you have been learning and plan to learn. This can be as simple as a sheet hanging in the children’s ministry area, a Facebook post, a newsletter or a link to the information on your website. This helps you plan and prepare and helps families sense the importance and urgency of ministry each week.
Stay in weekly communication with the families in your ministry. If some of the kids in your group attend only every other Sunday because of a split home, then it’s best to communicate with both parents – every week. If the child is brought by a grandparent or a friend, keep them in the loop too. Use different formats to make announcements about special events, schedules changes, etc. several weeks ahead of time and in a variety of formats: Facebook, church newsletter, email newsletters, etc.
Mention Next Sunday
Kids will get families to show up if they want to be there. Incentives work well with kids! Encourage your children through special plans and surprises next Sunday. Encourage attendance by setting goals, giving a party or awarding prizes for those who have been there every week for a month or semester! Before leaving for the day, always say something about next Sunday! Some suggestions might be: 1) See you next Sunday! 2) Don’t forget the party next Sunday! 3) Whoever comes with a memorized Bible verse gets a special prize next Sunday!
Know Your Goal
Define what your primary goal is each week – to help kids get a grasp of Scripture, to learn more about Jesus and to know Him. Knowing your goal will help keep things during your week moving forward. Another aspect to knowing your goal is how many students you want to have involved. Just setting this goal in mind and sharing it with your leaders and the kids will help people get excited. Additionally, a short term metric like this will help you focus your time during the week on contacting inactive families, checking in with someone who was sick, etc.
Celebrate Those Who Are There
Don’t try to keep catching up with kids who missed, just jump into your plan for the day. Don’t diminish plans because it’s a smaller group than usual. Don’t look at a small number of kids and say something like, “Where is everyone today?” These kids are here, present, and ready. Celebrate those who are there, minister to those who respond and make it a great day!
Provide Helpful Resources
Provide resources for your families through Facebook links, article posts or a church blog. Families deal with lots of stuff these days. If we can find ways to walk along side families through helpful information to encourage them, it’s a great way to stay connected. This kind of information will also help keep the door open for communication between you and families connected to your church.
Pray For Your Children And Families
Develop a prayer team for the children in your church. Life isn’t easy these days. One of the best things we can do is pray for the kids and families in our church and community. Do you have a prayer plan? When do you pray for the children and families in your church? I would love for you to be able to say the day and time you pray each week. Mark it down on your calendar. And then get people to join you in praying.
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