Should You Require Parents to Serve in Children’s Ministry?

Wouldn’t it be easier to have all parents whose children come every week serving in Children’s Ministry?  It would make recruiting easier and we’d always have extra people, right? Your intentions may be in the right place, but trust me, it will create a toxic culture in your ministry. Here’s why:

1. They Are Not Equipped

You would think that parents would be a perfect fit for your ministry because they have children. The problem is, they’ve become accustomed to their children and the way that they parent them. You simply cannot parent kids the same way you do at home. Every child is unique and coming from homes that are very different from yours. Teachers in your ministry should treat kids the same and use the same prompts when dealing with unruly behaviors. A parent that’s been required to serve won’t have that same ability and probably doesn’t want to take the time to develop that skill.

2. They Are Not Invested in Children’s Ministry

Someone that’s been required to serve, especially if they don’t want to be there, is the last person to be excited, motivated, or generally helpful. Get ready for a fight to schedule, motivate, and have great follow-through from your required parents. Training parents is hard because they have busy lives. If they are required to serve, then there’s a good chance they won’t be willing to attend training events or other training opportunities.

3. Think About Your Team

If you’re desperate enough to require parents to serve, then your team members are already feeling the strain of running a skeleton crew. Now give them a person who is not motivated and you may have some turnover in your team because dealing with kids is hard enough without dealing with unmotivated team members.

What’s the alternative?

Building a team by making thoughtful invitations, building relationships, and investing (and promoting) leaders is the way to go. You’ll create a serving culture in your church by building a team that is invested in the mission and goals of the Children’s Ministry.

1. Invite

Think about who in your church has the most potential. Even if it doesn’t work out, you can make a great first impression by getting to know them and then giving them an invitation they can’t refuse.

“Hey Joe, I think you’d be a wonderful teacher in our Elementary class. It’s hard work but knowing that God’s Word is being sown into the hearts and minds of kids and knowing that they take that knowledge back to their homes and schools is so rewarding. I really think you’d be a great teacher. I’ll be there to help you get going and then when you’re ready, I’ll hand it over to you and you can train the next person.”

Knowing that someone believes in you and wants you to be a part of the team is inspiring. You set the tone with how you invite people to be a part of your ministry. They may say no, and that’s ok. You will find people are just waiting for you to ask them.

2. Build Relationships

It’s important to spend time with your team members. Plan a dinner, a meetup, or a team movie or game night. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive. Your team wants to build relationships with you and other team members. Creating a space where they can do that will further enhance your teams’ unity and spirit.

3. Invest in Leaders

The invitation I mentioned earlier is the same type of thing you need to do with a current team member that shows potential for leadership. They may be doing the same job, but knowing they are the leader and in charge of training new people in their area is a new thing. They will look at it as a promotion. Once you’ve given them a new title, lean on them for help with planning, events and things that leaders get to do. Be careful not to burn them out by checking on them and asking, “how are you doing?”. You’ll find that people want to be a part of something special. Be choosy about who you select, but when you do, invest in them and give them areas of responsibility so they can grow along with you.

A serving culture may sound hard to accomplish but for all the blood sweat and tears, it’s worth it. Trust me, I’d rather have a small team than a large team of unmotivated and uninvested people any day.

By Chris McKinney

Children's Pastor from the Pacific Northwest. With 20 years of experience in Children's Ministry, Chris uses his knowledge to help others reach families in their communities.