I was recently privy to a conversation among children’s pastors about how much of their church’s budget goes to the children’s ministry. By and large, I was very saddened by the answers. 0%, .005%, 3%, None. Several said the children’s ministry was funded strictly out of their own pocket, or whatever the director could fund-raise. (And this is sometimes without a salary!)
Even though the attendance numbers indicate that kids might compromise 30-40% of the congregation, they get little to nothing of the church resources.
I have heard it argued that the lion’s share of resources must go to adult ministries because, after all, they are the tithers. Really? Is that the way we run our homes? “Yeah, our kids are hungry, they need clothes and a warm bed at night, but they won’t get those things ’til they start pulling their financial weight around here.” Of course this is ludicrous. So why would anyone have this mindset at church?
We have a thriving, multi-campus church family, and we give 40% of our budget to our kids and students. We can assuredly say we haven’t grown in spite of our next-gen mindset; we have grown because of it. Here are just a few ways that happens: More than anything they look for in a church, parents want to know their kids are being taught the transformative truths of the Bible. Kids who love their vibrant, exciting church invite their friends and those friends bring their families. When your adult members are being taught accurately what God thinks about the next generation, they will be on board. They will give more and do more to be a part of a church that is boldly making a difference in the lives of kids. Before you know it, those kids you have invested in become your ambassadors in the community. Teachers and coaches see lives worth emulating in the kids they work with, and they want to know where that comes from. The list goes on and on. More on the specifics of our ethos here:
So, what if we budgeted proportionately, according to the attendance of kids and students? Or, better yet, what if we budgeted lavishly - even above the percentage of those who attend? What if we gave not just money to the next generation, but also our time and effort, and our best and brightest staff members?
Some might believe that in giving so much to the next generation, they would be sacrificing the growth of their local church to advance the overall kingdom. Well, that sounds noble, and we have the feeling that’s what we should do, but ends up being a pretty unnerving proposition. Is God really asking me to give up the growth of my church to sow seeds for the greater good even though I may never see the impact? No, in fact, He’s not! We are here to say this way of bugeting does both! It grows the kingdom AND it will grow your local church.
To be clear, growing our local church is not why we invest so much into the next generation. We do it because we are absolutely convinced that it’s God’s heart to do so (Deut 11:18-21). But isn’t it just like God to weave all things together for good and bless your local church in the process!
Benefits of investing more in your kid’s ministry:
- It grows the kingdom of God, Amen.
- AND it will grow your local church, Amen!
- It lets your kids’ workers know what they do is valuable.
- It sets your volunteers up for success (because they have what they need).
- It frees your Children's Minister to focus on... ministry.
- It opens up unending possibilities of how and where to reach kids (such as after school programs).
- It helps you pour truth into kids who NEED a firm foundation before they venture out from our homes.
- It draws new families in - the kinds of families who value kids and will help sustain growth.
- It guarantees long term growth of your church because your congregation continues with energetic new life.
- It's just MORE FUN!
So if your church has been struggling to grow, or if you’ve been grappling with where to invest your budget, ask God if maybe He wants you to pour out a much greater portion on the fertile ground of the next generation.