Being involved in children’s ministry for 16 years, of course I am going to say that children’s ministry is the most important ministry in the church. Then came Barna’s book, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions and the floodgates opened for children’s ministry to be pushed to the forefront of the ministry landscape.
When this happened, SPs all over the place jumped on the bandwagon making claims that children’s ministry was the answer to church growth. The children’s ministry agency for the denomination I was in at the time even had a workshop at it’s national conference for senior pastors on how to leverage children’s ministry to grow their churches. I thought, and still do, that doing this simply turned CM into a church growth strategy rather than something that was vital to the overall spiritual growth of the church.
I’ve contended for a long time that children’s ministry cannot be the end-all when it comes to church growth… numerically or spiritually. Yes, a well-run and excellent children’s ministry will attract people and even keep families coming back… for a while, but you must also have a strong adult ministry that is discipling adults to be a part of ministry. Without a strong adult ministry, adults do not grow and you don’t have adults who can be a part of the ministry in the church… including children’s ministry.
So, which is more important? Children’s ministry or adult ministry? The answer is, “Yes.” They are both important. Are you sitting down? I would even say that adult ministry is ever-so slightly more important than children’s ministry… not much more, mind you, but yes more important. Adults are what make church happen. Without spiritually mature and growing adults, you don’t have a church… at least for long.
Healthy, growing churches have to have both a vibrant adult ministry and children’s ministry!
What if you can’t have both? Who do you hire first? Children’s Pastor or Adult Ministry Pastor? Well, that depends on your demographic and what you want to accomplish. The key is that both ministries must be intentional in feeding the other. Children’s ministry must be intentional not only in discipling children but in discipling adults (parents and volunteers). Adult ministry must not only grow and disciple adults into ministry but intentionally filter those people and prepare those people for children’s ministry.
It’s a both/and situation. You really can’t have one working without the other, and to make blanket statements on either side is foolish.