Bill Emeott, lead ministry specialist for LifeWay Kids, will be the keynote speaker for the upcoming TELL Children’s Ministry Conference sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Childhood Ministry.
Emeott recently took time to answer a few questions related to children’s ministry and Vacation Bible School, as well as what he plans to share at the conference. In the Q&A, Emeott shares why churches must prioritize children’s ministry, how VBS can be a significant outreach event to the community and more.
The TELL Conference is being offered in two locations — March 30 at Mountain View Baptist Church in Hickory and April 27 at Salem Baptist Church in Apex. Registration includes options for morning training or all-day training. Special group rates are also available. Learn more at ncbaptist.org/tell.
Why should children’s ministry be a priority for churches today?
Children’s ministry must become a priority in our churches. Several years ago, George Barna coined a phrase, the “4-14 window.” In his research, he found the majority of Christians come to know Christ between the ages 4-14. More recent studies suggest as many as 63 percent. Furthermore, for every year after this window, the likelihood of conversion falls.
We must move ministry to this group to the “front burner” and give it the priority — both in scheduling and funding — that it needs. Choosing not to give priority to children’s ministry may very well be to the eternal detriment of our children.
Also, I believe that we must move children past the point of conversion to becoming lifelong followers, growing in Christ. Discipleship is key to a successful Christian life. It takes intentionality to build spiritual habits, and those habits, practices and disciplines are best learned and embedded in one’s life during childhood.
Additionally, children can be a bridge to reach families. Churches who include the strategy of reaching families through children have a better chance of reaching them. But it doesn’t happen without intentionality.
It’s never been more important to see our role as children’s ministry leaders as partners with families.
Research shows that families are attending church less often. How do you anticipate this information will impact children’s ministry in the future? How can teachers and leaders equip parents to make disciples at home?
It’s been said that families who attend church one to two times per month are now considered “regular attenders.” This is dramatically changing how we approach discipleship in children’s ministry. It’s never been more important to see our role as children’s ministry leaders as partners with families. We must develop strategies that include equipping, training and encouraging families to embrace their role as spiritual leaders and disciplers of their kids.
As you know, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a major event for many churches. What are the benefits of VBS beyond a fun week for kids? How can churches incorporate VBS into an overall discipleship strategy for the entire church instead of considering it a “stand-alone” kids’ event?
In a recent study, 80 percent of those who attend church regularly believe that they have a personal responsibility to share their faith. However, 61 percent admit to not sharing their faith within the last six months. We have an evangelism crisis, and VBS can be a powerful tool to reach unchurched families. Statistics show that 22 percent of those enrolled in VBS don’t attend church anywhere. What a great opportunity! VBS is a ministry tool that mobilizes the entire church to reach the community with the gospel, an endeavor in which all aspects of the church can be on board.
Why is training and developing teaching skills important for children’s ministry leaders?
Someone once said to me, “If you think you know it all, then that’s exactly what you are, a know-it-all and you don’t really know it all, at all.” That has stuck with me over the years. As leaders of kids, we should never think we’ve “arrived” and can’t be taught better principles, practices and methods for reaching boys and girls with the gospel. We must work to develop our skills, learn more and strive to be the best teachers we can possibly be.
We’re looking forward to having you as a keynote speaker and breakout session leader for this year’s TELL Conference. What do you plan to share, and what do you hope attendees will take away from this event?
In the keynote I plan to speak on “The Importance of Kids Ministry and VBS.” During this session, participants will be encouraged and “cheered on” to continue the important work God has called them to.
Additionally, I will be leading two breakout sessions. “Understanding and Working with Gen Z” will be an opportunity to hear interesting statistics and characteristics of the generation born 1997-2014. Understanding can lead to better reaching, teaching and ministering to these folks.
My second breakout, “Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry,” will focus on four characteristics of a gospel-centered kids ministry, gospel-centered leadership, gospel-centered teaching, leading kids to be on mission with the gospel, and encouraging gospel-centered families.