10 Things I Am Against in Children's Ministry

I am "for" a lot of things in children's ministry and I feel like I could make a long list of things I am for.  

But sometimes you need to look at what you are doing and make sure it is relevant and effective.  I am not making this list to please everyone. I am sure some of the people who read this list will not agree.  And that's okay.  It takes all kinds of children's ministries to reach all kinds of kids and families. 

That being said, here are some things I choose not to do in children's ministry.

Being okay with not growing

I once heard a well-known pastor say, "There is nothing wrong with small ministries...for about 6 months.  After that, you should be seeing the church grow.  Yes...I know God gives the increase.  He grows the church, not us. But I do believe if His hand is upon a ministry, it will grow.  

I am against being content.  Holding out until Jesus comes.  Turning your focus to inside the 4 walls of the church rather than reaching out to a lost world who needs Jesus.  When you start reaching kids and families, you will see your ministry grow.  

Some reading this are serving in dead churches.  No one is ever baptized.  There is not a passion for the lost.  Prayer is not a priority.  How long will you coast along?  It's time to renew your heart with God's heart.  He is not willing for any to perish.

Saying "ssssssshhhhhh." 

It's not the kids fault when our lessons are boring.  They start talking when what we are saying is not capturing their attention.  Hence we begin to send the "sssssshhhh" their way.  Let kids talk.  Let kids interact.  Let kids get noisy.  Designate a large part of the class for letting them talk, discuss and apply the important parts and questions of the lesson. 

Forcing kids to sit in the adult service.  

Most often this applies to small churches that can't or won't provide a children's worship service.  The church is small enough that logistically they can manage the kiddos in the adult service.  It would be difficult to do this in a church that has hundreds, even thousands of kids.

Stop making kids get bored out of their mind.  You wouldn't make them sit through a college class because it would be way over their head.  The same principle applies to making kids sit through an adult service.  

I do believe once a child hits middle school, it is time for him or her to start attending the adult service. They are now ready to engage in the sermon and pay attention (if the pastor makes it relevant).

20 minute lectures.

Kids don't like to sit through a 20 minute lecture.  They have short, short, short attention spans.  In reality, they have hundreds of messages coming their way every day.  They have learned to quickly look through the items.  When they see or hear something that catches their attention, they will zoom in on that for a few minutes. 

Stop lecturing.  Start facilitating.  Allow kids to talk during class by having intentional discussion times.  Allow them to cheer during games that are tied to the lesson.  Stop telling kids Bible stories and have the kids start acting out the Bible stories while you are reading about it.

Don't worry.  Even if they are talking and seem to not be paying attention, they are grasping the truths you are teaching them about. 

Yesterday I was teaching in my home church's elementary class.  The kids were loud and seemed to not be getting anything out of the Bible story that we were having them act out.  When it came time for review questions - they knew the answer to every question - some of which were small details that I briefly mentioned during the lesson.  Don't be afraid to let kids talk and interact.  Even when they are at their peak noise level, they are getting the lesson.

Not doing a lesson for babies

We don't do babysitting.  Nursery and preschool ministry is a critical time as you seek to lay the foundation for the coming years.  

You can pray over the babies and preschoolers.

You can sing a song for the babies and engage preschoolers in worship.

You can talk about Jesus with babies and preschoolers.

I am against not having a lesson plan for children at this crucial time.

I am against saying a salvation prayer and baptizing children who don't understand the Gospel.  

Yes. The age of accountability is different for each child.  But we must make sure that children clearly understand the decision they are making. That why I started these 2 classes that children attend with their parents. 

Starting Point.  This is a class that helps children understand what it means to invite Jesus into your life. Hundreds of churches are using this.  You can get more information at this link.

Baptism 4 Kids Class.  This is a class that helps children understand what baptism means.  You can get more information at this link.  

Using these two resources, I saw over 430 children and many parents baptized in one year.  Every single one of them had been through these classes. Not trying to brag. Just wanting you to see that it works.

I am against an "expert" in children's ministry, who has never built a successful ministr, trying to teach others how to do it.

Would you want a surgeon who has not done an operation to do your surgery?  I don't think so. When I listen to or take advice about children's ministry, I want it to be from someone who has a proven track record and who is not just "a hearer" but a "doer" as well.

I am against memorizing Bible verses that only make it to children's short term memory and are soon forgotten.

We have to help children memorize key verses in the Bible.  But I believe that less is more. I would rather have a child understand what one verse means and get it placed into their long-term memory instead of temporarily memorizing 10 verses that will be forgotten by the end of the week.

Boring lessons.

We have the greatest story ever told.  Why would we tell it half-hardheartedly without passion, excitement and enthusiasm?

Boring lessons is a factor for kids growing up and walking away.  Dead churches....dead children's ministries...dead youth ministries = kids checking out of church as soon as they are old enough to make their own decisions.  

We need churches to step up and communicate (by their actions first) that walking with Jesus and following Him is the best thing ever!  In fact, it's worth giving your entire life too.

Unwilling to change.

It is sad to see churches that are unwilling to change that they might better reach today's kids and families. The Gospel doesn't change. But how we communicate it and teach it has to change to stay relevant to the kids and families they are trying to reach.   

We must stay anchored to the rock while staying geared to the times to connect with today's kids and families. 

So there you have it. 10 things I am against in children's ministry.  

Which point(s) do you disagree with? 

Which point(s) do you agree with?

What should be on the list that is not?  

Would love to see your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below

One of the Big Keys to Seeing Kids Stick With the Faith

We often see the staggering statistics that show the high percentage of kids who grow up and walk away from the faith.

But the good news is this - it doesn't have to be that way.

As we look into God's Word, we see that one of the big keys to seeing kids stick with their faith is to get them involved in serving.

Never are kids more like Jesus than when they are serving.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to SERVE others and to GIVE His life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 21

When you give kids the opportunity to serve, you are giving them an opportunity to be like Jesus. Studies show that kids who serve at church end up sticking with their faith and church for the rest of their life. There is something about serving that helps kids stay the course. There is something about serving that activates faith and captivates a child’s heart for Jesus. Serving is a huge key to seeing kids follow Jesus for a lifetime.

The Bible says that faith without works is dead. But when we start serving and helping others, our faith comes alive at a whole new level. This is crucial if we want to see kids grow up to serve Jesus for a lifetime.

When I was 16-years-old, I was attending church, but serving wasn’t a priority on my list of things to do. All I really cared about was my car, girls and sports. But that all changed when my youth pastor approached me about serving in the children’s ministry. I put him off for several weeks, but he kept asking. So I finally said, “Okay, I will come by and check it out this Sunday.” God used serving to help me surrender to His plan for my life. 37 years later, I am still serving Jesus and helping children and families know and follow Jesus. For me, serving has been the thing that has helped me stay the course.

Today’s kids are growing up with us pushing slogans like“Sunday Funday” at them and then we wonder why they grow up and realize they can have more “fun” outside of church on Sunday. Bottom line...we’re conditioning them to think that it’s all about them. We’re teaching them to “love themselves” more than we are teaching them to “love God with all your heart, mind and soul.” And when they get older, they walk away from church since they have other sources that can boost their self-esteem without asking for 10% of their paycheck.

And when they get older, they check out because if it’s all about them...why spend Sunday in church, when you can be happier “worshiping God on a hike or at the lake or at the ballfield?” When we let kids be the church today, it helps activate their faith and makes it come alive!  Kids serving as greeters are more likely to grow up to be adults who serve as greeters. Kids having a part in teaching the lesson are more likely to grow up to be adults teaching the lesson. Kids spreading the Gospel are more likely to grow up to be adults spreading the Gospel. Kids serving as ushers are more likely to grow up to be adults serving as ushers. Kids involved in missions are more likely to grow up to be adults involved in missions. 

A key component to spiritual growth is serving. Many times the reason a person is stagnated in their growth is because they are not serving. Faith without serving is going to have a hard time growing. As we share what God is teaching us through serving, we are creating a pathway for our own roots to grow deeper. Why do you think kids return from a missions or outreach trip with a deeper, spiritual
commitment? Because as they served others, God took them to a new level spiritually. Kids don’t have to wait until they are adults to serve. You learn what you live. Be intentional about creating weekly and event serving opportunities.

Will you encourage the kids in your church to be the church of today?

When people engage in serving, they are much more consistent in their attendance, right?  The more kids and families we are able to move into serving, the more consistent attendance we will see.

When children understand that God has a purpose for their life and they can be used of God to impact others for the kingdom, they will engage wholeheartedly.  Here are some steps you can take to see this happen in your ministry.

#1 - Teach it.
Make sure serving is a key component of what you teach children. Use passages such as Mark 9:33-35 to teach children what God’s Word says about being a servant.

#2 - Model it.
Serving is just as much caught as it is taught. Jesus modeled serving for His disciples by washing their feet. Let kids see you serving others.

#3 - Give them opportunities to live it.
Kids don’t have to wait until they are adults to serve. Be intentional about creating weekly and event serving opportunities for them.

#4 - Partner with parents to demonstrate it. When kids serve alongside their parents, it makes a lasting impression. Have serving opportunities that brings kids and parents together.  

#5 - Honor it. Honor serving and faithfulness more than talent.

Here are some practical ways you can give kids opportunities to serve and make an impact:

  • Pre-teen serving projects.
  • Serving opportunities after church services.
  • Serving alongside their parents.
  • Leading worship.
  • Pre-service impact opportunities.
  • Involve them in special offerings.
  • Give them ways to invite people to attend church.
  • Greeters and hosts for new kids.

Guess who runs the AV for us during the kids' services at my home church?  A first-grader.  Yes. You read that correctly...a first-grader.  And he does an amazing job.  I am involving him in serving now and I believe one day he will be running the AV in the adult service as an adult who grew up and never walked away from his faith. 

Do you have a copy of my book "Fertile Soil...See Kids' Faith Grow and Flourish for a Lifetime?"  In this book, I share the 3 biggest reasons why kids grow up and walk away from the faith.  Then I share the keys to seeing kids' faith grow and flourish for a lifetime. It is available at this link.

Helping Your Volunteers Know What Success Looks Like

Do your volunteers know what success looks like for their serving role?  

Do they wonder if they are doing a good job?  

Do they get frustrated at times?

Do they want to get better at this serving thing, but don't know where to begin?

If the answer is "yes," then that's on you. 

A critical piece of bringing someone on your team is to help them know what success looks like for their role.  

Let's talk about this.  Here are some steps you can take to improve in this important aspect of serving.

Step One - Define success.

Sit down and define what success looks like for every role in your ministry.  It doesn't have to be long...in fact, it shouldn't be long.  Just create 3-4 simple bullet points for each role. Here are some examples.


Pray a Bible promise over each child.

Make sure diapers get changed.

Connect with each parent and encourage them. 


Make sure each child knows the "big truth" when they leave.

Each child is part of a small group and participates.

Each child is prayed for by name.

Welcome Team:

Greet each person who enters.

Walk guests to the guest check-in area.

After the service, thank each person for coming as they leave.

Step Two -  Put it in writing for them to see Sit down with new volunteers and go over what the points of success look like.  Go over it again during your volunteer orientation time.

Print out a copy of the success list and put it in every room so volunteers can see it.

Step Three -  Use the points of success to provide feedback, and coaching for your volunteers.  

Observe how volunteers are doing based on the points of success that you provide them with.  Invest in them and help them improve in these areas.  They will not know how they are doing if you don't tell them.

Here is another example that shows the importance of defining success for your volunteers.  

Let's say that we are on a football team together.  You are the quarterback.  I am a receiver.  You throw me a pass during the game that is at my feet. It will be very hard to catch that ball. 

The goal would be for you to pass the ball to me at my chest area.  Right between the numbers on my jersey.  It would be much easier for me to catch the ball and succeed if you throw it to me well.  

Make sure you are not "throwing a ball" to your volunteers that is hard to catch. By "hitting them between the numbers" you are setting them up for success.

Here are a few things to think about:

Do I have written down what success looks like for every role on the volunteer team?

Do I have the "success points" displayed in each room so volunteers can see it?

Am I providing coaching and feedback for volunteers based on the success list?

Remember in closing...you can't hold someone accountable for success if you haven't defined success for them. 

p.s.  Do you have a copy of my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams?"  It has been called the best book ever written on the subject.  It's the formula that I used to build a volunteer team of over 2,000 at a local church.  You can get your copy today at this link

Questions? Encourage Kids to Ask Them

Kids can ask some tough questions and that's a good thing.  

If kids are going to make it spiritually in today's secular culture, they have to know "why" they believe what they believe. 

This video gives us a comical look at some of the tough questions kids can ask their spiritual leaders. 


According to a study, kids average asking 73 questions a day.  The biggest percentage is asked to a parent.

As a parent or children's ministry leader, it can be intimidating when you are faced with kids' hard questions.  So what should you do?  Here are some steps that can help you.

Welcome kids' tough questions.  Our prayer should be that our children will come to us when facing life's tough questions.  In fact, I encourage parents to be proactive and bring the hard questions to their kids. 

See it as an opportunity to help children cultivate a deep faith in God.  Working through the tough questions can be a pivotal moment in kids' lives.  It can help them grow spiritually and get a solid foundation for their future.  We don't want to wait until kids are in high school or college before they hear these type of questions.  Let's help them get the right answers now.

Don't be hesitant about saying "That's a great question.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you." You won't always have an answer in the moment.  But you can do some research and get back to them with the answer.

Dig in and find the answers.  This presents a great opportunity to grow and learn as a leader or parent.  Do the research and be prepared to come back with solid, Biblical answers.

The primary people kids will bring the hard questions to will be their parents.  We must help parents see that parenting is more about relationship than rules.  If their children know their parents love them deeply and want the best for them, they will continue to come to them with questions.

Help parents prepare for those hard questions.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."  1 Peter 3:15

Help parents see that this will not be a one-time conversation.  Rather it will be an ongoing conversation and will help build trust and deepen your relationship.

Teach apologetics to kids.  The battle for the heart and soul of the next generation has moved down all the way into preschool.  I recently shared an article about Paw Patrol (popular show for preschoolers) introducing a "non-binary, transgender character."

I have created two apologetics teaching series for kids.  The series examine the hard questions and helps kids and parents find the right answers.  We can't wait until kids are in high school to teach them apologetics.  At a minimum we must start in the early elementary years. 

The series are called Myth Busting and Pranksters.  You can get more information and see lesson and video samples by clicking on this link.  These 4-week series can be used for small groups, Sunday school,  mid-week, retreats and more. 

We must always let our children know that our job is to teach and help them through life. And one of the best ways we can do this is by being open and honest when it comes to tough questions. 

Here are some of the tough questions that kids may ask.  Be prepared to answer these.

Who made God?

Why does God let bad things happen on earth?

Why do people die?  What happens when we die?

How come I can't see God? Is He invisible?

Where do babies come from? (parent only question)

Why does God let people do bad things?

How do we know the Bible is true?

I leave you with this verse:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."  1 Peter 3:15