I’ve been a pastor to kids for a very long time. Over all my years of ministry, I would say that there are two questions parents ask that are asked more than any other questions. From connecting with hundreds and thousands of ministry leaders, I’ve learned that most of us in kidmin don’t like the questions (well, at least one of them). We wish the parents didn’t ask this question, but I feel that this is a different issue all together. I truly believe that having the right answer to these two questions may make the difference of whether a family is going to come back to your church. Focus on creating a great answer to these questions and I believe that you’ll have a different retention rate.
Question number one: “Did you have fun?”
It’s the first question 80% (I just made up that statistic… I just know that most parents ask it) of parents ask when they pick up their kids. Interestingly, it’s the churched parents as well as the unchurched parents. For whatever reason, fun is a big deal. If you have kids, you’ll understand this, right? If your kids have to be anywhere for any length of time, we hope that they’ll have fun. Fun is the currency of kids. Get a kid to laugh and you hold the keys of influence for that kid.
I know, you probably don’t like this question. You’re thinking, “of all the questions to ask their kids, why is the fun question the first question?” We wish parents would ask more spiritually stimulating questions. You’re right, but wishing parents asked another question is missing the point.
I may be going rogue here, but hang in there for a minute. Jesus seemed to like being with kids. We read about how he chastised the disciples for sending them away. To be perfectly honest, I can’t imagine Jesus pulled out a puppet and told a bible story. When I imagine Jesus with the kids, I picture him chasing them, playing games with them and making them laugh. I picture kids telling their parents that they love Jesus… because he’s fun and when they were with him, they felt loved and accepted. Sorry, I know all of that is a stretch theologically/biblically.
Why shouldn’t fun be a higher priority than it normally is. We’re smart enough to know that we can do both. We can put together solid biblical content and present it in a fun and relevant way.
I guess this is what I’m trying to say. We know two things. Studies say that parents will attend a church they don’t love if their kids are happy. It’s a key driver for retention. Secondly, we know that 80% (again, this is a number I just made up to indicate “most”) of parents are going to ask, “Did you have fun?” Knowing those two things, why would we not do everything in our power to make sure that every kid answers that question with, “Mom! Dad! That was crazy awesome! Can we come back next week? Please? Please!”
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the other significant question and on Wednesday, I’ll follow up with some questions we should ask ourselves about these questions.
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It’s a double edge knife. You have to keep the kids attention and make them want to be there while making opportunities for them to develop a relationship with Jesus. Ultimately helping them grow into a deep relationship with Jesus is what is going to make a difference but they won’t show up if you make it boring.
True. Life change rarely happens in a moment. We believe that life change happens in our small groups… but we’ll never get them connected in a small group if they don’t come back for the second or 3rd time… and they usually don’t come back because… it wasn’t fun.
That’s one of the best things I’ve ever read about children’s ministry in over 30 years of pastoring. Well maybe that’s an exaggeration. But it’s definitely better than 80% of what I’ve read 😉
Seriously, that’s a superb insight.
And that’s what we try to create for our 3 year old grandson whenever he visits us. Fun. Fun. Fun. We want him to want to come back.
Thank you for the post.
Ha! Thanks for the great compliment! Yes, there’s nothing better than little smiles and laughter… it’ll make volunteers want to come back too! 🙂