The tagline for KidStuf is “where kids take parents to learn”. This paradigm shift has rocked the church world, challenging the way “children’s ministry” takes place.
In 1994, Reggie Joiner was one of the five founding members of North Point Community Church. Meeting in a school cafeteria without enough members to create programs specifically for children, Joiner was troubled with the problem of how to keep kids engaged. Often, the messages didn’t speak to the context of a child’s world. Joiner wanted to make sure that kids didn’t grow up believing the Bible was boring or just for adults.
It was while watching the movie "The Lion King" with his family that Joiner found the solution. He realized that the church needed to harness what Disney had already discovered. Disney creates entertainment that seems to be targeted at kids, but in reality contains elements that all members of the family find interesting or funny, although they may not be the same thing. Joiner noticed that as his family got back in the car to go home, they were all talking about the experience they had just shared! Every one of them understood something different about the movie and could participate in conversation about what they had just seen. Joiner realized this was how he wanted families to interact as they left church. As a result, KidStuf was born.
The church scrapped the normal worship service every other week and replaced it with KidStuf, a shared environment, seemingly targeted at kids, but in reality it was educating family members of all ages.
KidStuf has several core values:
1. Family Centered- KidStuf is not “children’s church”. It is a “family-centered” production that requires parental involvement. By creating an environment for parents and kids to attend together, KidStuf serves as a catalyst for the parent/child relationship.
Every week KidStuf reminds families that the children’s ministry doesn’t exist as a substitute for parenting, but rather to complement parenting. At every age level, the church hopes to make sure parents never have the attitude “I’m going to drop off my kids and hope the church can fix them spiritually or morally”.
KidStuf is a weekly production that encourages parents to spend quality time with their kids and to assume the role of spiritual leadership with their children.
2. Kid Focused- Target the everyday issues in a kid’s elementary world. KidStuf is designed to create an upbeat and fun atmosphere for elementary-age children. The goal is to establish an environment where learning about faith and character issues can be fun and relevant. There is a percentage of the production that strives to relate to a range of age levels. This is referred to as the “Lion King approach” to ministry.
At times the humor and dialogue directly target adults, and at other moments, the message is geared for young children. However, the largest percentage of the production is aimed at fourth and fifth graders. We have discovered that, if we successfully connect with the older kids, we still keep the younger audience engaged.
3. Virtue Driven- Emphasize a specific virtue to help kids develop faith and character. A virtue along with a simple definition is displayed on stage and becomes the bottom line for an entire month of programs. Since virtues influence behavior and determine what is viewed as important in life, a three-year curriculum revolves around 36 virtues that are significant for every family.
The meaning of the virtue is taught through examples from the Bible, nature, object lessons, and sketches from everyday life.
4. Creatively Wired- KidStuf uses innovative and creative tools to communicate a timeless message. One of the most important things to do when trying to create a relevant environment for children is to learn from the experts. Instead of asking other churches what they were doing, the creators of KidStuf took their cues from organizations like Nickelodeon and Disney. In a 45-minute production, storytelling, drama, video, and music are used that is designed to entertain and teach families.
5. User Friendly- Create a predictable and non-threatening place for families to bring friends. The primary marketing tool for promoting KidStuf has been word of mouth. Regular attendees know they can invite other families to go to KidStuf and be confident they will have a quality experience. KidStuf has become a great entry point for unchurched families because it is a non-threatening environment.
6. Volunteer Fueled- Develop a strategy to recruit and maintain volunteers. KidStuf is a team effort. More than ten teams of almost 200 peoples make the productions successful each week. KidStuf parents are invited to participate by helping each week or month by working on one of the teams. By providing a variety of low-key volunteer options, there is something any parents can do to help KidStuf. It’s not unusual for unchurched parents to volunteer assistance and, as a result, develop a relationship with seasoned leaders to ultimately help them get connected in worship.
KidStuf has had a major impact on families across the nation. From starting as a new church movement in Atlanta, GA, KidStuf is now used in over 1000 churches nation wide. This new perspective on family ministry is having a radical impact on church leaders as well as they are challenged to look at ministry in a new way that is relevant for kids and their parents. To find out more about KidStuf, and to see videos of the live production, check out http://www.kidstuf.com.