Jul 23, 2013

Should Children's Ministry Leaders Have Tattoos?

Tattoos.  Lots of people have them.  Some of our staff and volunteers have them.

When it comes to children's ministry and tattoos, what do you think?
  • Is it okay for children's ministry leaders to have tattoos?  Why or why not? 
  • Do you have any guidelines about people having tattoos in your children's ministry? 
  • If someone has a tattoo that is offensive, should they cover it up while they are serving with the kids?
The floor is yours.  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


I have had one for 16 years (before they were all the rage), so you know I'm ok with them. It's on my chest so usually not seen.

I was always ok with leaders having one, even if it was exposed. It's so commonplace now, that I don't think kids think much about it.

Never had a person serve who had an offensive tattoo, so I can't speak from experience. But I would probably talk with the person, and ask them to cover it up when serving.

Wow, hot topic. We had a bit of a situation in our church to this end, but it was with piercings and the youth group (http://www.growingkidsministry.com/my-thoughts/making-choices-piercings-in-the-ministry/). Personally, I don't think the Bible outlaws tattoos, but traditionally, they have been linked with a rebellious culture. I think you have to be sensitive to your pastor and his preferences, and the parents and their preferences. You don't want to be the fuel to a fight b/w kids and parents. I think it's one of those "eat meat vs. don't eat meat" things that Paul wrote about in 1 Cor 8 -- you have to think about the spiritual implications of those you influence... will it be a stumbling block or not? As for my workers.. if it's not something really big and obvious, I would just let it go.

Thanks for sharing Joey. I haven't had the issue of anyone with a tattoo that is offensive serving (curse word, innappropriate picture, etc.) but I would ask them to cover it when they were serving if so. Not because of the tattoo itself, but because of the message of the tattoo.

Lindsey, that's a great word. I agree. Your first question would be what does my Pastor or leaders prefer. In some church cultures it's not an issue, in others it would be.

I don't think tattoos should be on ministry leaders and iff they have ttattoos they should cover them. Most people with tattoos cover them for work and interviews. I don't see the purpose of promoting that in church. It's so sad to go in these churches seeing rock bands and preachers looking like skaters abd church has become a mockery. Why do the church continue to feel it hss to compete with the world and be hip and popular. If I want tattoos and rock bands I will go to the world and get the real deal not some pathethic knock off.

I have my wedding band tattooed and a cross on my calf. I have always wanted sleeves and something across my chest to depict the passages and bible heroes from my life but I know that some families will be turned off by a children's pastor with this appearance. I would rather appeal to the majority and keep an unobstructed path for those who don't know me, then have the ink that I prefer.

I think a lot of this depends on your context. If your church's culture has an aversion to tattoos, then I'd argue it's probably wise to hide them or not get any.

No one really cares at my church, in fact, quite a few of my team members either have one or more tattoos or are planning on getting one. I myself have a tattoo. There are some tattoos I've seen around our church that I'd probably ask to be covered up if the owner decided to serve in children's ministry.

With regards to my opinion on tattoos themselves, I'd agree with Lindsey's allusion to 1 Cor. 8. Also, I think many are beautiful forms of self-expression, art, and storytelling. Many of my friends' ink tells their stories of redemption. My own ink has the phrase "That I may know him. . ." and it's displayed on my forearm, so during warmer weather (and anytime I roll my sleeves up), it's visible. Many of my non-believing friends have asked me, "Who's the 'him' on your arm?" and I mean, c'mon! Is there an easier way to share the story of Jesus than that?

I have a floral one on my lower back. It's always covered & even I sometimes foeget it's there. I don't mind tattoos as long as they are not offensive & in 7 years of ministry with kids, there haven't been any issues with tattoos or piercings.

I am on the same page as Lindsey. Really it has to do with what the culture of your church can accept. My freedom is not to be a stumbling block to anyone. I have no tattoos, and really do not like them…but so what?!
My daughter got a rather large tattoo across her forearm that says "Tetelestai". I may have spelled that wrong but it is the last words Jesus said…"It is finished." People are always asking her what that means. She has a chance to tell them about Jesus. I can't very well be against that!

I think it's totally fine... We are in NYC and its quite the norm around here... many of our leaders have them and i want to get a few... when it comes to offensive tattoos its probably better to keep them covered, but im all for it

I was children s minister for years with a full sleeve and plugs. We honestly have to let it go. The verse about causing others to stumble Paul is saying not to push people to do things they are convicted about. We don't hide our convictions. We don't push them on others. I am a vegetarian, but I cant expect others to stop eating meat around me. Same goes for tattoos. We want to reach this losing generation. The tattooed gen is having kids! That is who we are losing nation wide! That is what kids are growing up with as normal. I pray I am not out of line, but when ever someone would ask me I would just say, "could careless lets talk about how Christ can change these little lives."

Why is this even a question...it is what's in the heart not on the body that counts.

Leviticus 19:28 says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”

I am a cp with a biblical tatoo. Obviously I have no issue with workers having them, but I haven't had problems with offensive tatoos in my workers. That being said, if need be, I would cover mine and recommend that pastors especially seriously think about before getting one.

We don't live under Levitical law, thankfully. We're covered by grace.

I've been a Children's Minister now for 40 years and I can't believe what all I'm seeing in the church today!Where has the fear of the Lord and living a separated life unto the Lord gone? I recall the verse in the Old Test which tell us we should not mark up or ink up our bodies with markings of any type.Leviticus 19:28 says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” We are to come out from among the unsaved as a shinning trophy of Jesus's saving power. Jesus is a life changer, if your life and desires are not being "Changed" by the power of Gods Word then you aren't listening to the message.

Friends, wake up to authentic Christianity. Our faith in Christ is not just intellectual or emotional. We must expressit outwardly by shunning idolatrous practises such as use of tattoo. Tattooing, in my view is abominable and intolerable.

I think we need to be very careful about using Scripture as a means for justifying our stance on an issue. I realize this may come across as being angry and condescending, but that is not my intention at all. I simply want to point out the fact that we should be careful to study Scripture in its context before jumping to interpretive and applicatory conclusions. Also, this comment is going to start us down a rabbit trail rather than keeping us on the topic of tattoos and children's ministry leaders, but I think it's important for us to properly discern what Scripture is saying.

Leviticus 19:28 is part of a larger passage warning the people of Israel to avoid the religious practices of the surrounding nations. Many of these warnings make sense for us today, but some just don't. When someone puts on clothing made of a cotton-polyester blend, do you point her to verse 19? When someone orders a rare steak, do you start quoting verse 26 at him? When a guy is at a barber shop and gets his sideburns buzzed or his beard trimmed, do you remind him of verse 27? Why then do we hold Christians accountable to verse 28, but not to any of the other verses?

If we're going to tell Christians today to not get tattoos or piercings, we should also tell them to reject clothes with blended materials, to grow their sideburns and beards out (without trimming them, by the way), and to never order beef that isn't well done.

My point in all this: it's sometimes easier to become pharasaical than it is to carefully interpret and apply Scripture. Let's be wise with how we handle the Bible, especially when debating a topic.

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"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me."- Isaiah 49:16

I have served with one of the best leaders in Children's Ministry who had tattoos and some not so good who didn't. And guess what...vice versa.

"Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”- Matthew 15:10

I believe this applies to not just food, but our whole being - its a matter of the heart. Many (if not all) of our Lord's teachings is about the heart of a person- their attitude and character.

As leaders in a church we need to respect the authority that is over us. If your boss says no tats- then no tats. If there is no policy- then examine your intentions and have God search your heart on it.

As for me- yes I would like one. Of course I've been saying that for the last 10 years and haven't done it yet. But hey- could happen.

Good question Dale- tough one!

Tattoos - no problem.
Offensive tattoos - major problem. Even if they're covered up... that's more of a heart question. I guess if it was in their pre-Jesus days and now they're ashamed of even having it, then covered up = OK to serve. My 2 cents! I have two tattoos myself but they are usually hidden.

I agree with man yof you, but one thought has not come up yet. I see many young people of both sexes walking around with huge and sometimes really uggly tattoos, not so much in churches, but there as well. I think as children's ministers we also have to help yount people to think through the consequences of having a tattoo, especially big and very visible ones. WOuld they still want to have them when they are old(er)? Many who have tattoos would love to get rid of them. We need to be those who give good guidance and advice.
And than the other thing to consider. I work as a missionary teacher and travel to many different countries. I am sure that in many places (India, countries in Africa) I would lose a lot of my credibility if I would walk around with a big tattoo. So, this is the meat question. If my brother stumbles because of what I do I will not do it. Yes, we are free as Christians, but in order to help others w^to come into the same freedom we have to stand in their shoes for a time!

About tattoos and facial piercings. Cover up your tattoos and remove your nose studs etc....
Ro 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship. Do not confom to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind and you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

[quote=anonymous]My daughter got a rather large tattoo across her forearm that says "Tetelestai". I may have spelled that wrong but it is the last words Jesus said…"It is finished." People are always asking her what that means. She has a chance to tell them about Jesus. I can't very well be against that![/quote]Makes a lot of sense, the way your daughter approached it. It's what young Christians do now. Getting them is a proven conversation-starter that is very effective. Getting inked used to be a man thing many years ago, but now very manifestly it's something than women can participate in fully. What your daughter did makes a lot of sense from a conversation-starting witness angle. f

Thanks for sharing with us about your daughter. It's awesome that she is using it to tell people about Jesus.

Dale: To think also that it used to be a man thing many years ago, but now it seems that receiving tattooing is clearly something that women are very fully engaged in; and it appears that young Christian women as well as men are taking confident opportunities to use the faith content tattoo as an effective witness means. f

[quote=Dale Hudson]Thanks for sharing with us about your daughter. It's awesome that she is using it to tell people about Jesus.[/quote]

Dear Dale Hudson, It's obvious that having had the confidence to receive her Teletestai tattoo has resulted in a very effective witness tool, isn't it?

[quote=Pamela Weston]I am a cp with a biblical tatoo. Obviously I have no issue with workers having them[/quote]

Dear Pamela Weston, Put simply, it's what young men and women do now, isn't it? f

It was suggested someplace that years ago some people might have thought that "nice young ladies" maybe didn't get tattoos. But this has changed enormously; today in fact tattoos - faith based tattoos, even - are just exactly what serious Christian college students, homeschooling moms, etc. are very likely to get. This is fact.

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