What To Do About a Mid-Week Children’s Program

What to do about a mid-week children's program?Sometimes the best way to help people is to answer their questions with questions.

That is what I did when I was asked about planning a mid-week children’s program.

Basic questions that need to be asked are:

1)  What is your purpose?

Notice I asked what your purpose “is” not what it should be.  Be honest because your actions and attitudes will eventually betray or underscore what “is.”

If your purpose is no greater than having something to do with the children while adults are meeting, you will find little motivation to put much into a mid-week program.  When babysitting or crowd control become objectives, even though it might not be communicated that way, it is easy to take an “anything will do” approach.

If, however, your purpose is truly to utilize all the opportunities you have to reach children for Jesus and to help disciple them to love and follow the Lord, you will be energized to make it the best you can with the resources you have.

Of course, the second “if” above is more in line with what your purpose should be.  What can you do to work toward a more impacting purpose?

2)  What structure will best accomplish that purpose and fit your situation? 

Structure should be an outgrowth of your purpose and realistically guided by your resources … available teachers/workers, time, facilities, etc.

If you adapt a structure simply because it is a pre-fab plan and easy to use, you might be missing the mark on what God wants to do in and through you.

If you tailor a structure that best meets your needs, you will have more potential of lining up with God’s desires and intent to work in and through you.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use somebody else’s plan or structure.  Nor does it mean that you must start from scratch and “reinvent the wheel.”  What it does mean is that you will invest much prayer and objective assessment into it.  If a pre-fab program best fits your purpose and resources, then that is what should be used.  Or, perhaps you will need to take an existing program and make some tweaks.  Maybe you will need to develop your own plan but if that is the case, then God will provide the person(s) equipped to do so.

3)  What curriculum will fit the structure?

Often the pre-fab programs mentioned under the second question above come with the curriculum for you to use.  I am listing this as a separate question, however, because too often we let the curriculum determine the structure.

If you let the curriculum determine the structure then you might find yourself frustrated as you try to make something work that doesn’t fit your resources.

If you let the structure determine the curriculum then you should be doing something that works for your situation.

A mid-week program should be a little more fun and fast-moving than a typical Sunday School or Children’s Church program.  Some churches have used Sunday School or Children’s Church curriculum for their mid-week program but if not careful, it can feel too much like school for the kids which they have been in all day prior to going to church on Wednesday evening.

Some churches use curriculum from publishing companies that use a large/small group approach.  You would need less high commitment – preparation teachers and more lower commitment – preparation small group leaders.

Some churches use VBS curriculum, using a lesson per week.  Often these types of curriculum rotate children through a number of learning stations.

The question is: What type of curriculum will best fit your purpose, the structure that grows out of it, and works with your situation?

From there it is a matter of implementation — ordering materials, recruiting teachers and workers, training them, scheduling, organizing, etc.

8 Replies to “What To Do About a Mid-Week Children’s Program”

  1. I am the childrens director of a spanish church… that means I do everything… teach, organize, etc… we have bible study for the adults on Tuesdays and that means I get all the kids… I have been struggling to get a solid program going. My issue is for one we are a growing church with very little space…uhh no space… I have all age groups in one room ranging from 5-12 years old. I struggle to find help on this day because the pastor gives some amazing bible studies and no one wants to miss, also alot of people that would be good to help me are all ready involved in other ministries. We have a good sunday-school structure and I don’t want to do another sunday school type lesson… I want to do something that all age groups can do together and not be bored… something fun and memorable and of course easy to plan since I am the one teaching and have alot on my plate… Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you and God Bless. ps our children min is called New Generation… if that helps.

    • You mentioned at least four issues, Elizabeth. There will be no simple or absolute solutions to give you. Hopefully some of what I share can help.

      1) Multiple Ages Together: As you mentioned, you do not want to bore the kids. You will have more potential for boring the older children if you keep it too simplistic to fit the abilities of the younger children. It would be better for the younger children to have to reach up a bit than for the older children to have to come down too far. This kind of situation is an excellent opportunity to disciple the older children in serving and leadership by giving them responsibilities to assist you or even lead parts of the session … i.e., put on a skit or puppet show, read, lead singing, games, etc. (under your guidance of course). You can pair up older children with younger chidren as mentors, to help them with more complex tasks, etc. In doing this, seek as much as possible to utilize them according to their strengths.

      2) Curriculum to Fit Your Situation: Learning centers or activity stations can work well in this kind of setting but you might meet with some challenges. One is spacing which you said is limited. Perhaps tables could line the walls. The other is sufficient supervision if you are the only one in with the children. You would probably need to limit the number of stations to just two or three. Depending on what you are doing, perhaps the older children could be given some responsibilities that would help you. You will find some curriculum that is designed for mid-week children’s groups but most is designed for breaking into age groups rather than keeping all the ages together. Group Publishing has an All-In-One Sunday School Curriculum that is designed for multi-age class settings. If you use a curriculum like that you could build on parts of it that would make it seem less like a Sunday School class or pick and choose activities within it and supplement it with other activities. Another possibility for helping to make this multi-age setting work better, is to have two activities going on at one time … one a self-directed activity that does not need your supervision (i.e., watching a DVD, reading, etc.) and the other one in which you work with a group more according to their needs and abilities.

      3) Space Issues: Clear the room of all possible clutter. Section the room for different types of activities if possible. Utilize other areas of the church for select activities that would not disrupt other groups. Go outside when the weather is nice enough if you have a safe place to take children. Decorate simply and make the room as bright and open as you can. Determine what would be the least congestive means of seating … on floor, around table, chairs in a circle, etc.

      4) Staffing Issues: This is a tough one but it is important that you seek to get some help so you don’t burn out. Perhaps you can get a few people who would be willing to give up just one of their adult Bible studies once every month or two. Even if you can have a break once a month, it would do you well. That would be a short term fix while you work on the bigger picture. You will need to help people see the value of giving up something in order to invest into the children’s lives. A climate must be built within the church of the importance of children’s ministry so mid-week children’s ministry isn’t seen as merely babysitting while adults do their thing. Rather it is a vital ministry.

      Let me suggest you begin by working on that which will be easiest to implement and keep working on other issues as you can. There is no quick or absolute fix but you can keep moving toward a better situation. The issues will only magnify themselves as your church continues to grow so it is important you do what you can now so you can be ready for the next steps.

  2. Thank you soooo very much for you suggestions. I am truly truly greatful you took the time out to help me.. thanks again and God bless.

    • You are most welcome. May God use you in the lives of these children to His glory. It isn’t always easy but it is worth it!!

    • Hello! Great discussion, and please note: that you are not alone. Many of our peers struggles with one or more of these situations in their ministry. So, in addition to the great suggestions you received already, please reach out within the wall of your church, not out of desperation but with determination to build life-changing partnerships with:

      * The Senior Leadership: create open communication so that they are aware of the status of the ministry. We need their prayers and we need their involvement so that they can communicate to the congregation the importance of serving in the children ministry. [AVOID being a Superhero – its the quickest way to disappointment and failure]

      * The Parent: parents must get involve with the work of the children’s ministry. Pray as to how God want you to accomplish this task. Search the internet for strategies, but build parents into what you have been called to do

      * The Teens: there are teens that would love to help as well; just make sure that they want to serve and that the have clear guidance on how they ought to serve. Encourage them along the way and share how much you appreciate them; they will eventually rise up to the challenge.


      • Thanks for adding your input, Kelvin. How right you are that Elizabeth is not alone in these ministry struggles. Hearing from others is therefore so helpful. We can learn from each other. I appreciate your emphasis on reaching out “not out of desperation but with determination to build life-changing partnerships.” That approach makes such a difference for everyone involved.

  3. Obviously, this article is from some time ago already, but as much as things change they also stay the same. I am looking for some opinions on Sunday School and mid-week program in the same church. Is it better to try to make them work together or keep them completely independent of one another?

    • Hello, Jay. Yes, even though this post was written a number of years ago, there is much in it that could still apply. My opinion on Sunday School and the mid-week program working together or independently is that it is better if they can tie together. If you are able to use the same truth taught in Sunday School as a basis for the mid-week program, it will help to reinforce or cement the truth and provide a greater potential of it being understood, sinking into hearts, and applied to life. Of course, that is assuming you have pretty much the same people attending both. If you have a good number of people at mid-week who weren’t in Sunday School, then you would need to make sure what happened in Sunday School is not required for building upon as many would not have that groundwork. I think the biggest issue against coordinating the two is that unless you have a curriculum that already does that, it can be quite time consuming for the leader. The leader would need to be sold on the benefits of tying the two together. Also, Sunday School teachers would need to understand that what they do is important to what happens mid-week or vice versa. They would need to see themselves as a team even though they might not be serving side by side.