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Pastors: Children’s Ministry Is More Than a Place to Keep Kids Occupied

children's ministry

As the pastor prayed the benediction over his congregation, his 3-year-old daughter ran screaming up to him. The congregation chuckled as he scooped her up with his head bowed.

The next day he received two emails. One said, “Having your kids behave like that in church is disruptive and disrespectful.” The other said, “Seeing your kids run and play in church is such a blessing!”

Kids and church—it’s a duo that often brings conflicting perspectives. Nearly two-thirds of children’s ministry leaders strongly agree that churches cannot grow without an effective children’s ministry. Depending on resources, some churches have vibrant children’s ministries while others are threadbare. But regardless of size or structure, children are both the present and the future of the church. How the church receives and ministers to children are of Kingdom significance.

Consider the story in Mark 10, when parents brought their children to Jesus for his blessing. The disciples turned them away, mainly because—at that time—children were the epitome of “to be seen and not heard.” Children were not seen as special or sacred to anyone other than their parents. But Jesus became frustrated with the disciples and said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

The church is more than just a place of physical activities to keep kids occupied; it’s where children’s spiritual lives are grown, too. Traditionally, both are done through things like Sunday School and Children’s Church. But one of the most significant and memorable experiences for the bodies and souls of kids is summer camp.

A Christian summer camp can be a profoundly influential event in a child’s life and faith. But what if a church doesn’t have the means to host camp, or parents don’t have the resources to send their kids out of state or even out of town?

At WinShape Camps, we began to see this struggle and knew we had to do something. That’s why we created a model of ministry to meet kids and families right where they are.

WinShape Camps for Communities partners with local churches and businesses to host a one-week summer day camp experience in cities across the nation. These weeks model our WinShape overnight camps in Georgia, but the best part is that they happen right where campers live—offering epic adventures during the day and the chance to sleep soundly in one’s own bed at night.

When summer camp comes to a local church or school, some people might not recognize the place. It’s fun seeing summer camp excitement combined with a classic church setting—flag football, archery and science amidst a regular gathering place of weekly fellowship.

Most importantly, though, everything we do is centered around faith. Each year introduces an intentional theme about Jesus that finds its way into every aspect of camp, including small groups and worship services. Year after year, I see kids grow in their God-given skills and talents through singing, games, physical activity and creative play—all of it helping them learn more about Jesus.

Jesus said, “let the children come to me,” as he walked among us on earth. Our prayerful intention is to invest in the future of the church by bringing a camp experience that does just that—paving the way for children to come to Christ through a week of fun and friendship, all covered in faith.