We’re heading into Memorial Day Weekend – a time to remember those who have fought for our freedom …
Oh, yeah, and also the time for barbecues, road trips, graduations, and if you’re etiquette conscious, the signal that you can once again wear white. (Whatever – who makes these rules?)
But unfortunately, this also means something else. In many churches this is the time to discontinue kids’ ministry until the fall.
Is this a mistake?
Now, I will say right here, that I am NOT talking about any particular church. And I personally love to travel and think road trips are the best, but churches have always been able to find a substitute when I (or another teacher) is gone on vacation. Or maybe even a sub to fill in so a teacher can take a break – but not so many teachers or so long of a time to completely shut down the kids’ ministry.
I also realize that many churches do have kids’ programs throughout the summer – many of these programs are developed with a different twist than the school year programs and in addition, can attract kids who don’t attend during winter.
Other churches, however, shut down children’s ministry entirely.
*Curriculum only goes for nine months.
*Teachers are burned out.
*Kids have sports programs in place of church.
*Families go camping or visit Grandma.
*Everyone needs a break.
Wait a minute. Everyone needs a break? Does that include kids? Because for many of the kids we see each week, our ministry IS THE ONLY time they learn about the truths of God’s Word. They do not have parents who tell them about God. They do not attend regular church services. They don’t have kids books, DVDs or other Christian resources in their homes.
Do they truly need a three-month break from God? Because that’s what we’re giving them.
We’re putting them in a position to have a spiritual summer slide. (Summer slide is an academic term referring to how much comprehension kids lose over the summer when they don’t have parents/programs to continually challenge them.)
Think about it. We have many of our ministry kids for only an hour or so a week. Some of that time is used for a Bible lesson, some for a snack and some to glue glitter or cotton on the week’s ark/manger/sheep craft. So kids are getting about 30 minutes (if that) of true teaching. That’s their weekly dose because (for many of the kids) Dad and Mom certainly aren’t spiritually training them at home. We can encourage the parents, but we know, that in many cases, encouragement does not make it happen.
Then it’s summer. Sure, the church kids continue to show up for services and activities. but so many of our ministry kids disappear into the summer sunshine. Some show up again in the fall, but for some the momentum fades and they are simply gone. We lose our impact forever. (A few will remember what they learned and reconnect with a person or church later on in life and renew their interest in God’s Word, but many won’t.)
I have been in church ministry all my life. I’ve seen the disappearing-kid-phenomenon happen over and over. Countless times I’ve heard (and asked) the question “Whatever happened to ____________?”
We have so little time with these kids – why are we so cavalier about giving up three months of influence?
Just some thoughts about what we can do … (And yes, we might have fewer kids than we do during the school year, but some will keep coming.)
- Find another curriculum for summer – or study a book of the Bible. (The Bible’s teaching material doesn’t stop in May.)
- Ask for volunteers to sign up for a summer program. (You’ll probably find some of those volunteers being the same ones who already work with the kids, but you may find others who are willing to serve for three months.)
- Plan some family nights or special events where everyone participates. (Make sure to include singles.)
- Invite non-churched families to participate in regular services.
- Acknowledge that some people need breaks, but that doesn’t mean the entire church needs to take a break from impacting the hearts and minds of kids (and adults too)
God’s Word says, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (1 Corinthians 9:16)
Please don’t let your kids disappear into the summer sunshine.
Comment and let us know — What does your church do for the kids during the summer?