Church Visitor Horror Stories: Children’s Ministry Fail

Church Visitor Horror Stories: Children’s Ministry Fail

July 8, 2015 by

Last fall we started collecting Church Visitor Horror Stories to celebrate our book, Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive-Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm. It’s been scary stuff. But hopefully we can learn to be more welcoming.

The Children’s Ministry Fail

My husband and I are church planters and have been visiting churches in the city as we prepare to launch our church.

We visited a church where we stumbled through the unmanned computer to register our kids for class. We dropped the kids off (in rooms with adults present) only to have them returned to us in the sanctuary 10 minutes later because the classes didn’t start until after worship.

We visited a different church that had no registration when we dropped off our kids. When we went to retrieve our kids, the worker slammed the door in our face, saying she was in the middle of a lesson and needed more time.

Another church had us fill out a huge form before checking in our kids. Then they gave us a speech about how they would be taking the forms and our kids across the street in case of an emergency. So we should be sure to check for them there if anything happened. –Jamie Schulz

Won’t someone please think of the children!

Lurking in the back of every visiting parent’s mind is the tragic history of child abuse cases in the church.

The Solution

Visiting a church is hard enough, but visiting a church with kids is a nightmare. Lurking in the back of every visiting parent’s mind is the tragic history of child abuse cases in the church. That’s the bar your reassurance has to overcome. It’s a sad reality, but what do you expect parents to do?

So find ways to exude confidence, professionalism, transparency and trustworthiness. Don’t take it lightly. Visiting parents won’t.

Before parents even decide if they trust you, you also need to help visitors figure out the options for their kids. Are they welcome in the service? Do kids leave part way through the service? Or is the kids’ ministry off in its own wing?

Once visiting parents get their kids to the appropriate place, you need to calm fears and explain basic procedures. No one should be forced to figure things out for themselves or assume what’s going to happen. Have someone available (who isn’t supposed to be in charge of children) who can answer questions and help parents.

A lot of people will chose a church based on their children, so make them comfortable with your children’s ministry options.


Unwelcome Now Available: Covering reserved seating and other sins.

Photo by Tommy Clark.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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One Response to “Church Visitor Horror Stories: Children’s Ministry Fail”

  • Momma Bish
    July 9, 2015

    As a mother of a toddler – I COMPLETELY AGREE!!! Our church has paid nursery staff on Sunday mornings and we are sure to tell guests about this. We also have Children’s Ministry t-shirts for our staff and volunteers to wear, so they can easily be identified by parents. I will admit, our registration process could be improved upon… but everyone is a work in progress, right? Thanks for this article!

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