You can walk into many children’s ministries and it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s like the ministry is frozen in time.
The songs are the same songs they sang in 1975.
Flannel-graph is still used as a major teaching tool.
The decor hasn’t been updated in decades.
Teachers communicate with lectures that far exceed kids’ attention spans.
VHS tapes of Bibleman are playing in the background.
There is no check-in and security system.
Volunteers serve without background checks and some even serve alone in a room with kids.
Bulletin boards can be found in the hallways.
The ancient name “Sunday School” is still used to describe what happens on Sunday mornings.
Kids are told to sit quietly in rows of grey metal folding chairs.
It’s as if social media hasn’t been invented yet.
One-hour teacher meetings are held every week.
VBS is still called VBS.
Kids’ choirs are accompanied by an organ.
Guests are asked to fill out forms by hand that are longer than doctor office forms.
The TVs still have large, heavy backs on them.
Curriculum still involves printed student booklets.
Using Captain Kangaroo as an illustration is considered cutting-edge.
There is little to no diversity.
Streaming is only something water does.
The ministry strategy is—the more programs we have and the more events we put on the church calendar, the more effective we will be.
Pre-teens are put in the same room as 1st graders.
It’s vital that we be willing to change as needed.
Our message is timeless…but our methods must be timely.
This means we should constantly be evaluating what we are doing and how we are doing it.
Is our ministry effective?
Is it connecting with the kids?
Are kids excited about being a part of it?
Are we still reaching unchurched kids and families?
Are we knowledgeable about today’s kid culture?
Are we attracting young, Millennial parents?
Don’t be frozen in the past…be focused on the future!
An example of this is the Borders chain of bookstores. Borders was founded in 1971 by the Border brothers. The company was highly successful through the 1990s. But then they got stuck. They developed their website and online sales too late in the game. They continued to focus on CDs and DVDs while customers were shifting toward digital delivery of content. In store sales dropped as people began to buy more hard copy books online and ebooks became popular. Eventually they had to file bankruptcy and close all their stores.
I believe this is one of the biggest dangers of being frozen in time. Eventually it causes you to become irrelevant, and one day you look up and there is no one left. Empty church buildings across the country are testimony of this.
Learn from the past. Honor the past. But don’t get stuck in it.
Your best days of ministry are ahead of you! God is ready to do a new work in you and through you! Don’t become frozen in time!
This article originally appeared here.