The Unstuck Group, a church consulting company, published their latest survey results collected from 315 churches that reported what they were experiencing from June through August 2022. These churches reported a 43% increase in kids attendance from last year to this year, which was not completely surprising as churches had just restarted gathering their kids ministry sometime in the first half of 2021. This growth also reflects what I’m seeing, kids and families are returning to church.
As we return from summer-lite, I’m seeing that kids are happy, and wary, when they’re together. It makes sense, after the last two years, I see kids unmasked and masked, eager to play and be together.
Some kids have difficulty making friends. While we adults have continued our social interactions, kids that were home or told to mask and stay away from each other were not. They are learning how to play together again and how to make friends during unstructured time.
Kids look a certain age, but academically, spiritually, and socially are younger than they seem. An interview with Anya Kamenetz, education reporter for the NPR, she states that “…the latest numbers suggest that, for elementary school students, it would be three more years at this pace before they would sort of pick up their expected trajectory of math and reading.” I notice that kids don’t know how to pray, and the Bible is still somewhat unfamiliar to them.
These factors are changing how I do ministry. Some adjustments that I’m making include:
- Using storytelling. We can’t assume kids can read. Some can and some will struggle. Frame your teaching time in such a way that developing readers do not feel signaled out or embarrassed. This goes all the way up to our preteens.
- Attention spans are shorter. Break up your program time into shorter segments, with something different for each segment. For instance, if you’re presenting and it takes you 10 minutes to share the Bible story, before you get to the second part of your lesson, show a short 2 video, sing a song, use a prop, do something to recapture your kids attention. Chances are pretty good that their minds are wandering.
- Small groups are even more important now. Your leaders can coach kids in how to pray, get to know kids by name, build personal relationships with them, and help them relearn how to relate to each other.
- Don’t assume that kids know common Bible stories or content. Depending on your setting, if you have new kids, there’s a pretty good chance that they do not know their Bible.
This is a great season for kids ministry leaders! It’s giving us time to focus on the basics of growing child disciples. During a recent podcast with Thom Rainer, he encouraged us to think like missionaries. Let’s be sure we understand our community, society has shifted so much
these last few years, and perhaps we need to rethink how we do things to reach this next generation.
Let’s connect and brainstorm together! Joni@ocsba.org