Sunday school and children’s church leaders: how you prepare yourself and your kids for growth matters—a lot.


5 Ways to Prepare Your Children’s Ministry for Growth

There are very few churches anywhere that don’t desire to grow their church and in particular, their children’s ministry. And why wouldn’t we? More people experiencing God and the life-changing transformation of being in community is something we should want. While that may be the desire, I have found in my experience that there are very few churches that are actually positioned for growth. We desire it and pray for it, and yet when it actually happens, we’re usually left floundering.

Sunday school and children’s church leaders: how you prepare yourself and your kids for growth matters—a lot.

Here’s a simple list for you to consider as you prepare yourself, your environment, and the kiddos you love for growth.

5 ways to prepare your children’s ministry for growth:

1) Pray for growth

So this is not exactly an earth-shattering point. But it is so important to start here, with prayer. If it’s God’s ministry, it’s too important to be desperate about it. I’ve sat in your shoes and I know that as much as growth seems like a great thing, it can be overwhelming. I know that growth automatically equals needing more volunteers, more resources, more room, more everything. Take a breath. You are not the source of life in your ministry. God is. You are not in control of growth, God is. It is his ministry and if he grows it, he’ll sustain it. Promise.

For the Kids:
Spend some time each week to pray for the new friends God might bring into the church. Kids don’t always transition easily, so introducing them to the idea of growth and then praying about it together will help them make that transition well.

2) Make your whole kids’ ministry welcoming

It’s easy to get so caught up in running point and putting out fires that we forget to take time to be intentional. If you foster a welcoming and friendly environment now, that will only shine brighter as your children’s ministry grows. Be intentional about greeting parents and kids. Be visible in the hallway and at the welcome center. Go out of your way to smile and be welcoming to everyone.

For the Kids:
Nobody is better at making kids feel welcomed than kids. Put kids in charge of different “welcome” tasks and have them do it every time they’re there, whether there is a new person or not. Have a greeter, have a name tag person, have a kid with a “discerning” eye check the room to make sure it looks bright and cheery and welcoming. When you get kids involved and give them a job it adds value for them and it positions them for the transition of growth. Instead of being afraid of new kids, they’ll be looking forward to meeting them.

3) Have Safety Policies in Place

It does not matter if you have 4 kids on a Sunday morning or 4000: you must think of their safety. They are being entrusted to you and you have to take that seriously. It’s always a little tricky, especially in smaller churches, to put security policies into place, but they are necessary and they position your children’s ministry for growth. Get your parents and your team in the habit of enforcing safety policies now: when you grow, it will simply be routine. Enforce that this is not because you’re worried about your workers or because you’re pretending you don’t know which child belongs with which parent. It’s because you care about the safety of their children and the reputation of the church. Some people will complain but typically once you explain that you are doing it to keep their children safe, they comply.

For the Kids:
Safety policies don’t usually matter much to kids. They adapt quickly to going to the bathroom in groups, wearing a nametag, and not climbing on tables. Something to consider here is to have some expectations for kids that you go over every single week. I suggest having them posted.

For example, maybe your expectations (note: expectations are very different than a list of classroom rules) are “Respect God,” “Respect Others,” and “Respect Ourselves.” Take 1 minute at the start of every Sunday and run through those expectations with the kids. It helps them remember and let’s you reiterate what each of those looks like. Also when you have new kids come in they are coming in to a routine that is already set up and a routine that gives them a win. Kids like to know up front what’s expected of them. That positions you for growth.

4) Be Authentic

In 10 years the kids in your ministry aren’t going to remember what color the classroom walls were or what craft they did that correlated with the story of David. They’re going to remember the relationships that impacted them. Kids today aren’t going to listen to you simply because you’re an adult, they’re desperately looking for some authenticity.

So instead of diving right into your Bible lesson or running out the door to the next thing, take 10 seconds and be real with them.

For example: “Hi, I’m Miss Mel. I’m so glad you’re here today. My favorite color is orange, I absolutely hate loud noises and I have a hilarious story about a tiny little mouse that chased me around one time, remind me to tell you about it.”

It doesn’t have to be much, but if you have longer than 10 seconds share a funny story, share a struggle, be real with them. Do it every time. Foster an environment of authenticity. An authentic environment is a place where anyone is welcome.

For the Kids:
Allow them to share about themselves. If I’m going to do large group on a Sunday morning I always start by asking the kids if they have “something super-duper pooper scooper exciting to share.” I win them over immediately because I’ve said “poop”—come on, you know what I mean—and I’m giving them permission to share. It creates community. It breeds authenticity. And when they’re visiting a church for the very first time, it allows kids to get to know people in a fairly non-threatening way.

5) Create a Visitor Friendly Environment

Number 5 is really all for the leader. I suggest walking through your building/space with the eyes of a visitor. Start from outside and ask yourself some questions:

  • Is the main entrance clearly marked?
  • Are the bathrooms easily located?
  • Is there adequate signage to find the kid’s area?
  • Did someone greet me and walk me to the kid’s area?
  • Does the nursery stink?
  • Are the hallways well lit?
  • Would I know where to take my child?
  • Would I leave my child?
  • Is there adequate room?
  • Is it overly cluttered?
  • Does it look welcoming?

Don’t be afraid to have an honest look at the environment you have. Simple things like the bathroom and the nursery and signage can greatly affect your ability to grow (and retain growth) as a children’s ministry.


Growth is a great thing! These 5 simple suggestions can help you greatly in positioning and preparing yourself, your ministry, and your kids for growth.

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Melissa J. MacDonald

Author Melissa J. MacDonald

Passionate about children's ministries Melissa J. MacDonald is a published author, in demand speaker, and a children's ministry innovator. She spends her time training, coaching, speaking, equipping, and consulting with churches and groups both in the US and abroad. Melissa loves everything about children's ministry except for stale cheerios and cranky volunteers.

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