Conservative criticism of pope sparks rally of support
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Feb 16, 2017
Generations ago, children attended church because mom and dad mandated that if they lived under their roof, the children would abide by their rules. That was before the introduction of cable stations, Xbox One, PS4, the iPhone and so many other attractions that engage children’s attention, according to youth minister Ricardo Miller.
“Let’s face it — we as the church are in a competition to win and keep the next generation,” said Miller.
“If you’re having a difficult time understanding how to get children to be passionately engaged in church and returning to church, because they want to, I offer five reasons why kids want to come to church — they were greeted at the front door and made to feel welcome; people are nice to them; they see children they can identify with; they were invited by a friend; and the service wasn’t boring and irrelevant to their life.”
He added: “Most churches and children’s ministries have greeters at the front door, but once you move past the front door, good luck, you’re on your own. You can change that by having adult and junior leaders throughout the room to engage the children and interact with them throughout the service, especially first time visitors.”
The youth pastor, who is one of the leading and most influential voices in children’s ministry and leadership development, said that no one — not even children — wants to be treated rudely.
“An usher being short with a child… or a child being told they are sitting in someone’s seat, are red flags that cause children to say this is not a place they want to be,” he said.
Miller, a Bahamian who pastors at Ricardo Miller Children’s Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas urges adults to take a moment, walk slowly down the hall and look at children, not past them.
Miller, who blends a sense of humor, substance, style and personality to his message said there should always be rules, and enforcing them “hard and fast” in children’s ministry is essential, but he said kindness lets children know that there’s structure.
“We exercise our rules with love,” he said.
He encourages churches trying to have children of similar ages sitting together, as he says being able to identify those children who are like them, helps create connection and a kindred spirit. And that it increases the chances that they will return and encourage their parents to bring them.
The pastor who also hosts Children’s Ministry Today Radio Show, a weekly broadcast highlighting the value of reaching children on Fishbowl Radio Network said children feel welcomed when invited to church by other children.
“Children are the world’s most fruitful mission field, because when they like something, they tell other children, and invite them to come along. If a child ‘buys into’ your church, you can be certain they will sell it to others they know. More often than not, they will win someone to follow them to Jesus too. However, if they don’t know anyone else, and no one reaches out to them, they have no relational connection to bring them back.”
Services, he said, should not be boring and irrelevant to a child’s life. If children aren’t hooked within eight minutes, he said, they zone out.
“If a child can’t relate to the music, the lesson is full of information without application amongst other things. After eight minutes in, they realize it would have been more comfortable to stay home, play on their game or with their friends or even watch TV instead of coming to church. Today’s children have choices — so capitalize on your opportunity by making this the highlight of their week. Make sure the music is relatable, the lessons are interactive and the games are chock full of fun. It’s your time to shine and make the best impression possible to keep them coming back and wanting more.”
In getting children wanting to come to church, engaged and active in its programs, Miller said youth pastors need to look at their respective ministries to see whether they help children once they pass the front door and walk them to the respective rooms. He said they need to see if anyone engages the children in meaningful conversation between the front door and the rooms they are going to, and whether the people serving as ushers, greeters and teachers are kind, friendly people.
Miller said making relational connections with children is a must. He said music and the message have to be engaging and relevant to their lives. And a fun, engaging environment for children must be created at church.
In today’s world, he said, children in turn could be dragging their parents away from church, because the children aren’t happy there.
“As ministry in The Bahamas continues to change along with the culture, churches are going to have to become more skilled in connecting with the next generation. Our community is filled with children, but in most churches the numbers are shrinking and that’s not right,” said Miller.
He said it is possible to reach kids effectively today.
“With the right application of methods, your children’s ministry department can be a thriving one.”
Miller, whose children’s messages reach 1 million people and 1,000 churches, and who has penned five books, is open to lending his assistance to churches whose children’s ministries need revamping. For more information about evangelizing children, equipping parents and training children’s ministry workers, contact info@RicardoMiller.com.
Five reasons Ricardo Miller says children attend church
• They are greeted at the front door and made to feel
• People are nice to them.
• They see children they can identify with.
• They are invited by a friend.
• The service isn’t boring and irrelevant to their life.