Home Children's Ministry Leaders Articles for Children's Ministry Leaders Children’s Church Ideas for Small Churches: Think Big With S.M.A.L.L.

Children’s Church Ideas for Small Churches: Think Big With S.M.A.L.L.

children’s church ideas for small churches

Do you need some children’s church ideas for small churches? Is your congregation facing big challenges due to its smaller size? For example, what if only two kids show up on Sunday, and they’re ages 4 & 12? Start by thinking S.M.A.L.L.

Janice hurried through the building checking the three classrooms. She’d invested several hours already that week, ensuring everything would be ready. Janice loved the kids of First Church; she’d overseen the children’s ministry for almost two years and thoroughly enjoyed her part-time position.

But she admitted feeling frustrated, not knowing how many kids might show up or if they’d be preschoolers or preteens. She was often preoccupied by questions about her small children’s ministry. How do I prepare for the unknown? How do I make ministry relevant for just a few kids with such varied ages? What are the best children’s church ideas for small churches? Even more important: Is our ministry really effective with this unique group of kids?

Thousands of kidmin leaders face these questions every week. They work incredibly hard to minister effectively. They face the challenging prospect of not knowing how many kids might show up (two or 25?). Plus, there’s the even bigger challenge of meeting the needs of kids of wide age ranges.

So how do you keep a small church ministry effective and relevant? What are some solid children’s church ideas for small churches? You think S.M.A.L.L!

Children’s Church Ideas for Small Churches

S: Start with a Plan

To create impact—in any size children’s ministry—you must begin with a plan. Plan how you’ll effectively reach kids in your children’s ministry. Recruit for the classes you’ll offer—even if they’re occasionally empty—based on  average weekly attendance. (Track attendance for three months to get a close average.) Do the necessary volunteer screening and training to prepare volunteers. Gather teaching materials, including curriculum and supplies. Prepare your space and be ready.

Note: Being ready doesn’t mean having a healthy stack of word puzzles and coloring pages for kids. It means being prepared with a full lesson plan to maximize every moment.

It’s easier to lower your preparedness standards when you think only a few kids might show up. It’s easy to slip into the mindset of “winging it.” But remember: Reality is just the opposite. With only a handful of kids, you have greater opportunities to make a deep and lasting impact. Prepare for it! Regardless of who or how many might show up, start with a plan.

M: Move to Plan B

Your Plan A is in place: You’re prepared for your average attendance and ready to go. But if drastically fewer kids show up, or if kids’ age ranges are awkward, then move to Plan B.

Plan B is your plan for what you’ll do if your number or ages vary dramatically from what you’d normally expect. Determine beforehand how you’ll handle such variances. Who’ll lead? How will you organize your volunteers? Will you dismiss some volunteers, or use them in other ways? How will you mix age groups so older kids interact with and mentor younger kids? Is your curriculum geared to engage all ages? Where will kids go?

Think through all the troublesome scenarios you’ve experienced lately: Too many kids, not enough kids, major age gaps, group imbalances (10 preschoolers and one teen, for example). If it’s a possibility, plan for it. That doesn’t mean you need to create a new plan every week. But have a plan prepared for most scenarios. Typically, you can simply adjust Plan A, but you need Plan B for the big obstacles.

Note: Plan B isn’t winging it. Making up Plan B as you go isn’t acceptable. Have it ready and your volunteers trained to adapt in advance.