I grew up in Small Town, U.S.A. We had 2,500 people in our town. I have a special place in my heart for small towns.
The church I serve in now is a multi-site church. One of our campuses is in the largest city in America … New York City. Our campus there meets right across the street from Central Park and is surrounded by millions of people.
Another one of our campuses meets in a small town that is the opposite of New York. Instead of being surrounded by skyscrapers, it is surrounded by farms, mom and pop stores and cow pastures. It may not be in a hugely populated area, but there’s no reason why we can’t build a thriving children’s ministry there.
If you are ministering in Small Town, U.S.A., you might be tempted to look at megachurches that are located in heavily populated areas and feel like you’re not as successful as they are. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the best children’s ministries in America are found in small towns. And many of them, based on population, are reaching a larger percentage of people than megachurches in huge cities.
I am really excited about what God is doing at our campus in this small town. Let’s go on a verbal tour, and I’ll share some keys to building a thriving children’s ministry in a small town.
Make children’s ministry a top priority in the church. We make sure we talk about children’s ministry in the adult service. The kids also come in and sing sometimes during the service. Emphasize the importance of children’s ministry to the entire church.
Invest your time in building a solid volunteer team. One huge key to a thriving children’s ministry is a thriving volunteer team. The success of your children’s ministry hinges on this. Invest heavily in your volunteers. Pray together before the service.
Make sure every child is loved and personally known. One benefit of a children’s ministry in a small town is you have a better opportunity to know each child personally and help them grow in their faith.
Make your children’s areas kid-friendly. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can make your children’s areas appealing to kids. For example, use kid-friendly colors and kid-sized furnishings.
Get out into the community and serve. Look for ways to support community events and get involved. We make lots of great connections with families by doing this. Because the community is smaller, you can really impact families personally.
Make safety and security a priority. Even though the atmosphere in a small town may be more laid back, safety and security is still a must. Parents want to know their kids are safe when they are at church. Have a check-in name tag system. If you can’t do this electronically, then use hand-written security tags.
Host events that families in the community can attend. One example is hosting a Fall Festival. We did this last fall and had lots of new families attend.
Take what you have and make it excellent. What has God placed in your hands? Give it your best. It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have.
Give first-time families a great first-time experience. Just as in a big city, the biggest key to getting new families to return is giving them a great experience on their first visit. We have an area just for new families to check in and get to know the ministry before dropping off their child.
Make your lessons fun, interactive and engaging. No matter what size town they live in, kids want lessons that capture their attention and give them an opportunity to interact.
Have clearly marked signage. Make it easy for people to navigate your campus.
Are you serving in Small Town, U.S.A.? We’d love to hear about your church and what you are doing to reach the people in your town. Share with us in the comment section below.