Stop Using the Word "Rules" in Children's Ministry

I was at a church a few weeks ago and in several places in the children's ministry building they had this word displayed...


Over the years I have seen churches use this word.  And what the word stands for is needed.  Kids do need to know what the parameters are and what is acceptable and not acceptable.  

But think about not presenting it as "rules."

"Rules" sounds cold and condemning. 

"Rules" sounds like a prison term.

"Rules" can seem negative.

"Rules" reminds kids that they are under a watchful eye and they better not misbehave.  

Going over the "rules" at the beginning doesn't bring excitement and enthusiasm.

Instead of having "rules" think about adjusting this and give kids opportunities to be rewarded for good behavior.   

Here's an example of some opportunities kids have to be rewarded.

1. Talk when it's time to talk.  Let kids know they will have opportunities to talk. This includes small group discussions, ice breakers, etc. 

2.  Listen when it's time to listen.  Listen when it's time for someone else to talk. 

3. Sing and worship God.  When it's worship time, get up and sing to Jesus and worship Him.

4. Play and have fun.  Get involved in the games, activities, teaching, etc.

5. Say the key truth when you are prompted.

See the difference?  This focuses on what kids can do right instead of focusing on bad behavior. 

Rules call children out.  Opportunities call children up.

I like to divide the kids into groups and at the end of class give a prize to the group that followed the opportunities the best.  

Here is a video clip from the Road Trip teaching series that highlights opportunities kids have to earn rewards. Notice the positive challenge instead of shutting them down with "rules."  If you are reading this in an email and can't see the video, you can access it at this link.