Church+Preschool: It Matters.

My first experience in church as a kid that I can remember was not on a Sunday morning.

It was at Snellville United Methodist Preschool and I was 4.

My parents grew up going to church but after they were married, going to church wasn’t necessarily a huge priority.  My dad was working hard to provide for the family, my parents were young when I was born, and they were living in Arizon, far away from their families.  It was not and is not an unusual story.  It’s the story of young couples all over the country.

Finding a church home just wasn’t at the top of their list.

We moved to Georgia a few years after I was born and my mom enrolled me in SUMC Preschool because getting a head start on kindergarten was a priority for my parents.  While my parents may not have been jonesin’ for a church home, they had that sense that their kids should be in church which is why they opted for a church preschool instead of a day care center or community center.  

Preschool was the first chance for SUMC to show my parents that I mattered to God so I mattered to SUMC.  3 year old me loved it—the snacks, the dress up station, the play-doh, the new friends!

But what was more important is my parents loved that I loved it.

So we started attending the church regularly with my grandparents that year.  And the year after.  And the year after that.

I still remember the bright red carpet and watching my grandpop stand proudly in the back waiting to collect the offering.  Then, during the service, he would fiddle with his mints or butterscotch wrappers and offer me one (or seven).  When we moved to Ohio, the first priority for my family now was to find a new church.  Fast forward a couple of decades and now I’m a church leader.  In part, because a church preschool and a sweet lady named Miss Kay loved me.

New families will give your church’s preschool a shot before they’ll ever come on Sunday.  How’s your alignment and strategy between your church and your preschool?

One of the ways we began to align was through the use of Seedlings.  As a church leader, I was able to approach our preschool director with a program that taught the same Value Words during the week that aligned with our First Look and 252 Strategies on Sunday.

The preschool teachers synchronized their character development strategy.
The preschool director and I now shared a common language and goal.
The preschool parents were now reinforcing what was learned at school at home.
Our church (weekday and Sunday) now presented a united front for families who were looking for more.

The preschool that meets in your church during the week is full of parents asking questions without ever asking those questions out loud.  What you communicate to them as the children’s ministry leader is important.  How you interact with the preschool teachers is important.  If those relationships are not there, they need to be so go buy them some coffee and start loving them intentionally.  What you do on Sunday is awesome and so vital to the faith and character of a child, but don’t miss the opportunity to invite new families into the conversation.  If it’s not already, make your weekday preschool a part your church’s ministry strategy.

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