Five Reasons Why the Children’s Minister Is the Staff Position in Greatest Demand

February 12, 2018

It was not an unusual question at Church Answers. For those of you not familiar with Church Answers, it is a 24/7 resource where you can ask any church question and get a response within a few hours.

Here is the context. The pastor was the only paid staff member at the church, but now funds were available to bring on another full-time staff person. So he asked us in the 2,000-member Church Answers’ community to offer input on what his first hire should be.

I was blown away.

The responses, at least as I write these words, were 100 percent in urging him to get a children’s minister. There were no divergent opinions. One church leader after another exhorted him to go this route.

So why is the children’s minister position is such demand? The Church Answers community let us know, with most of the responses fitting in one of five categories.

  1. Millennials have a lot of kids. The Millennial generation is the largest generation in America’s history (though they may be surpassed by Gen Z). There are 78 million young adults ranging in ages from 18 to 38. And they have lots of kids. If they visit a church, one of their highest priorities is the quality of the children’s ministry.
  2. A healthy children’s ministry usually results in a healthy student ministry. It makes sense. If there is quality teaching and ministry for the children, these children are more likely to move to student ministry better prepared for life and better discipled for God’s work.
  3. A quality children’s ministry requires a large volunteer force. Indeed, this rationale was one of the key reasons the leaders at Church Answers responded in unanimity for calling a children’s minister. Leading the volunteer ministry can be a full-time job by itself.
  4. If churches desire to reach families, they must be prepared to reach children. If the Boomer generation acted like helicopters and hovered over their kids, the Millennial generation is acting like sidecars, and want to go wherever the motorcycle/child goes. You can’t reach a family with kids unless you are really prepared to reach the kids.
  5. Parents insist on safety, security, and hygiene for their kids. We live in a nervous time heightened by the greater awareness of sex abuse, shooters, and germs. Parents want to know the church is a safe place for their kids. The presence of a quality children’s minister is a huge positive statement for these parents.

We saw this trend five years ago. It is now a reality. The staff position of the greatest demand in congregations is the children’s minister.

Let me know what you think about this issue.

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50 Comments

  • Hi everyone,

    I was wondering something.

    If a church has just arrived at a point where they can add a second full time staff member, would the ideal candidate be able to fulfill multiple roles?

    Perhaps the candidate could have training in children’s ministry, but also have some skills in leading worship music for example?

    I found during my time in smaller churches that we generally had to wear multiple hats.

    Does this make any sense or am I perhaps comparing apples and oranges?

    Thanks

    Gary
    Southern NH (USA)

    • Gary,
      I agree that staff in smaller churches (most churches actually) have to wear multiple hats. My caution with your kidmin person, though, would be to be cautious about combining roles that have high Sunday morning responsibility. You don’t want to not have a worship leader show up on stage because that person is also responsible for talking to the upset parent, handling the sick toddler, or trying to replace the no-show volunteers. Kidmin is high involvement on Sunday morning, even when surrounded by a great team. Hope that helps and Dr. Rainer probably has better insight. 🙂

  • It’s great that churches “say” they want C.M.’s, but I wonder how many actually find good ones and then treat them like the professionals they are. In my experience, churches want creativity and training, but are often unwilling to pay a living wage for it. By offering part-time low wages, they typically limit themselves to inexperienced stay-at-home moms looking to make ends meet. In my last C.M. position -which I took as a favor to the pastor because they couldn’t find anybody, I was paid less than the nursery worker whom I supervised. No benefits. No mileage (though I lived 30 minutes away). Had my budget raided for “other needs.” Facilities people regularly tossed up roadblocks. Adult Ed and Worship resisted the needs of young parents. Was judged based on the “success” of youth numbers, not the children’s (which we grew). And saw a promised increase go to the pastor’s building campaign. Two years after I left, they still can’t find anyone to fill the position.

    • Did you do any lobbying?

    • Thank you! I wanted to shout YES while reading this. The place I’m at now is about the numbers and showing off the kids in newsletters, not Kingdom building or relationship building with God. They want the work for no pay (I was hired 2 hrs a week for children’s church/sunday school teacher and found myself listed as the Children’s Minister in the bulletin a month later, … surprise!). There is no budget, period. They are dismayed that I often put demands of my full time paying job above their desires. This is how you lose good educated leadership, youth, their families, and kill a program. It’s discouraging to say the least.

  • Taylor Johnson says on

    I’ve been a children’s minister for over 10 years and I receive no less than 2-3 emails per month from churches asking for recommendations for children’s ministers. Churches are finally seeing the value and are making it a priority…so encouraging!

  • I’ve been a children’s minister for over 10 years and I receive no less than 2-3 emails per month from churches asking for recommendations for children’s ministers. Churches are finally seeing the value and are making it a priority…so encouraging!

  • Yes and amen! Such an encouraging word to this children’s pastor’s heart.

    Agree with Jenny that we need to equip and encourage leaders who are called to this very important role!

  • Yet…my experience is that churches underfund this position, do not strive for someone well trained or think that a 3/4 time employee is sufficient. At the same time they will pay top salary for a full time youth pastor. For the youth ministry to be healthy, the children’s ministry must be feeding into it.

    • Yes, this is a great issue. Children’s Ministers are not held to the same education standard as most other ministerial positions. They are also not compensated fairly either. Our kids deserve well trained and equipped leaders! This also falls on our seminaries and institutions to provide degrees for children’s ministers that teach the same theological concepts but can be geared toward applything that information to children’s ministries.

  • Corey is exactly right, even going to church 1,2, or 3 times a week is not enough for children, yes it’s good but it’s not enough when most of there training comes from a nonchristian secular school, it is the parents job to train the children and lead them in a Christ centered life, Christ must be the center of the home and if it’s not we as the body of Christ teach them, children will learn more from a father and mother than they will from age appropriate instruction.

    • Mark Freeman says on

      No disagreement from me, Charlie. But how do you address the eight of ten children who do not have Christian homes, but who visit the church?

      • You welcome them into the church community just as you would bring a nonbelieving adult into the church community. Sending them off to interact only with other children and one or two teachers (usually untrained, poor teachers) is not doing them any real favors.

        I have no beef with children’s Sunday school during a separate time slot (except that it is extremely rare that it is done well, and most curriculum is really hideous–but theoreticlly I don’t have a huge problem with it), but there is no biblical warrant for removing children from the worship service (except for temporary removal, such as a parent taking out a crying child). And giving children their own pastor, their own church service, and so forth is just about the surest way to see that your children will “outgrow” church when they get to college and outgrow the youth group.

        We need desperately for churches to take their children so seriously that families stay together, worship together, and get to know other Christians together.

  • Finally someone gets it! We started budgeting for a children’s pastor 20 years ago…..it has produced unbelievable dividends!

  • I think children (and preschool) is also something most difficult for a solo pastor to do. It’s very different from preaching-leading adults.

  • Children need age-appropriate instruction. It is the rest of the congregation and leadership that sometimes sees the children’s ministry as lower on the pecking order. The children though need faith formation.

  • You missed the biggest one. Children’s ministers are in such high demand because parents want someone else to take care of their child’s faith development. They would rather focus on soccer and vacations and outsource the religious stuff. Faith formation begins in the home, and parents need to be empowered to do this. But any church that dares to push that truth loses its families to the mega church down the road.

    • Corey –

      The most effective children’s ministers are those who realize Christian discipleship begins in the home, and do all they can to reinforce that path.

      But the challenge is that 8 of 10 Millennials are not believers, so their children do not yet hav a faith to develop.

      • Teresa Lynn Fears says on

        I love this!!
        So, so true!!

      • As a Children’s ministry director… I want to add that in some ways our society has shifted to “professionals” doing so much that parents often feel ill-equipped to spiritually train their children so one of the things I think is so important is to give tools to the parents and encourage them, so that they remember God believes they can train their own children and so do I. I view this as a whole family ministry. Moms and Dads need so much love and encouragement these days. That is in addition to the great work with the children.

      • Thom: After three years in children’s ministry at a conservative Bible church, I have to say that Corey is sadly right. Even though the church strongly advocated spiritual development at home, it was routinely neglected. Except for the homeschooling parents, the number of parents that actually sat down to disciple their kids in the Word was abysmal. Our commitment to discipling is like our commitment to purity; we mention it in hopes of it being true, but everybody knows that back at home it just ain’t so.

    • Corey did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

    • Corey, the truth sometimes stings. You are spot on.

      • Actually, Corey is at least partly right. Over the past few generations people have gone from doing most things for themselves to farming most things out. Jiffy Lube did not exist a few decades ago – everyone had ramps and a drain pan in their garage and changed their own oil. Faith is no exception and with the large number of unchurched people in the next generations, many young adults with kids have no idea where to begin. So they assume that someone must be better at this than they are and farm it out. It isn’t a criticism of them – it is logical. As for what to do about it, having children’s ministers who do both programming FOR and equipping parents WITH will do a better job of changing that over time. And pastors who emphasize this in their teaching and help generate a macro-culture of parental and home based faith life will help provide a base from which change and successful parenting can develop.

    • I heartily agree with you, Corey. I, as a minister, would love not to work in a church that frets over the presence of children in the worship service. Many churches, unfortunately take the pragmatic route of having children’s programs so that they retain attendance, even if most of those attending are goats, not sheep.

  • Yes sir! This is exactly what I tell church planters who want to know how to do kidmin. However, I also hear over and over again how difficult it is to find children’s ministers. We (children’s ministry world) have got to do a better job raising up future leaders.

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