Dec 6, 2019

The Critical Pre-Teen Years

A recent study from George Barna reveals that nearly half of all people who come to Christ do so before reaching the age of 13.
The report also says people who accept Christ before their teen years are for more likely to remain committed to Christianity. 

If you work with pre-teens in your church or ministry, I can't emphasize enough the importance of what you are doing. 

Look what Barna says about this.
Families, churches and parachurch ministries must recognize that primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years. It is during those years that people develop their frames of reference for the remainder of their life – especially theologically and morally. Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development.
I believe people who work with pre-teens are serving in one of the most important times in a person's life.  The battlefield for the next generation is in the pre-teen years and earlier. 

We must help pre-teens see that they must own their faith as they head into their teen years.  We must help them develop a solid faith foundation.  Without it, they will struggle in their teen years.

PRAY daily for the pre-teens in your ministry

Pray that they will walk closely with Jesus. 

Pray that they will rely upon Jesus as they face temptations and pitfalls.

Pray that their parents will have wisdom, understanding and patience as they seek to influence their pre-teen children spiritually. 

Pray for the volunteers and leaders who work with pre-teens.  Pray that God will use them in the kids' lives and that the kids will receive what they have to say.

POINT pre-teens toward Jesus.  He is the answer to every struggle and trial they will face in their teen years.  Remind them that people will let them down.  People will be hypocritical at times.  People's talk will not always match their walk. 

But Jesus is faithful, trustworthy, loving and caring.  He will never let them down.  He will never leave them nor forsake them.  Show them the commands and promises found in passages of Scripture like Hebrews 12:2.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

PREPARE them for their teen years.   Teach them apologetics.  Trust me, they will need it in the culture they are growing up in.  Help them see Jesus is the one and only way to God.  Show them the proof that the Bible is the Word of God and you can trust it.  Help them grasp a spiritual foundation that they can build their lives on. 

PLACE pre-teens in serving roles.  We know that pre-teens who serve are more likely to also serve in their teen and adult years.  Create opportunities for them to serve in roles such as greeting, running AV, helping teach the lesson, helping in preschool, cleaning up after class, leading worship, etc.  

Actively go after pre-teens to serve.  If they can develop the heart of a servant during those formative years, it will be a part of their DNA for the rest of their lives. 

PARTNER with parents of pre-teens.  The pre-teen years can be challenging for parents.  Pre-teens go through a lot of changes as they are moving out of their adolescence years.  Pre-teens begin to go through physical and emotional changes.  Their moods can be unpredictable.  They are very self-conscious.  They will sometimes act without thinking as they are developing their decision-making skills. 

It's not easy parenting a pre-teen.  Parents are looking for help and resources.  Be there for them and help them navigate the pre-teen years.

Consider offering parenting classes for parents of pre-teens.  Especially as they prepare to enter their teen years.  Share helpful articles and insight with them.  Be their biggest fan and supporter.

p.s. If you are looking for an apologetics series for pre-teens, check out this series.

If you are looking for a high impact resource for parents of pre-teens as they move into their teen years, check out this resource.

Dec 5, 2019

Place it Back in the Hands of Parents

I'm thankful for children's ministry leaders who lead children to Christ.  It is exciting to see a child come to Christ, isn't it.

But, for me, it's even more exciting when parents lead their children to Christ.

Somewhere along the way, many ministries decided to take that privilege out of the hands of parents.

It kinda' looks like this - when parents come to pick up their children at the end of a service or class, they are informed that their child invited Jesus into his or her life.  I've been there and seen this happen many, many times.  And to be honest, when I first started in ministry, that was my mode of operation.

But over the years, I gradually swung back to the mode of operation being coming alongside parents and encouraging and equipping them to led their child to Jesus.  As you think about this, it is interesting when you see these stats...

According to Barna research, among people who embraced Christ before their teen years...
  • 50% were led to Christ by their parents
  • 20% were led to Christ by some other friend or relative
  • 7% were led to Christ by a minster's personal prompting
  • 1 in 8 cite a special event as the time they accepted Jesus (50% of the 1 in 8 said the "special event" was a church service)
  • 1% were led to Christ through media evangelism or other special situations
Notice that half of the children who have accepted Christ were lead to Him by their parents.  In a local church setting, this tells me that we need to turn our focus to equipping parents to lead their children to Jesus.  

Here's what that can look like inside a local church.  Instead of trying to lead children to Christ in a Bible study or kids' worship service, share the Gospel with kids and then give parents the responsibility of leading their children to Christ.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to share the Gospel and have kids who want to accept Jesus to let you know.  Next, invite those children and their parents to a class where you have time to clearly explain to both what it means to become a follower of Jesus.  At the end of the class, give parents the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation with their children.  Or if the child is not ready at that moment, then give parents the tools they need to continue the conversation at home. 

Do this and you will see God move in an incredible way in the hearts of children and their parents.  Because here is what happens, when parents hear the clear Gospel presentation, many of them will come to Christ as well.   

I created a class for this ministry approach.  It is called Starting Point and I have personally seen hundreds of children and their parents come to Christ through this.  In fact, in one year, I saw over 460 children come to Christ and dozens of their parents as well.  Every one of them went through this class together.  Every one of them took the next step after salvation and were baptized.

If you'd like more information about the Starting Point class, you can get it at this link.  It comes with a complete follow-up guide for parents whose children are ready to make a commitment to follow Jesus.  It also comes with student booklets, parent booklets, media elements and lots of hands on experiences and activities that helps kids and their parents understand the Gospel.

It is a powerful class that can change the entire direction of kids and their parents.  Why is it powerful?  Because it is centered on the Gospel. 

Paul said this in Romans 1:16...

"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes - the Jew first and also the Gentile."

If you want to have a powerful children's ministry, then share the Gospel on a regular basis.  If you want to have families where parents are the spiritual leader of the home, then share the Gospel with kids and their parents together on a regular basis.  If you want to have a powerful impact on children, then equip parents to lead their children to Jesus. 

Does this mean that we should never pray with children for salvation if their parents are not present?  No.  There are times when you are doing outreach outside the walls of the church and the parents are not present.  Times like a neighborhood outreach event, a Bible club that meets at a school, a fall festival in the community, etc. These would be times when it would be appropriate to lead children to Christ (though I would say even in these situations, look for opps to share the Gospel with the parents and involve them as much as possible).  

I am simply saying this.  See the big picture.  Our ultimate goal should be to reach families.


"When you reach a child, you change a life.  
When you reach parents, you change an entire family."

As much as it is possible, we need to place the responsibility of leading children to Christ, back in the hands of their parents.  And this can happen, when you have a strategic plan in place to share the Gospel with kids and their parents together. 

Your turn.  What is your strategy for sharing the Gospel with kids?   How about parents?  Is your plan working?  Are you seeing kids and parents come to Jesus?  How do you think we can be more effective in sharing the Gospel with families?  

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Dec 4, 2019

How You Can Be Great in 2020

Everyone wants to be great.  But not everyone is willing to do what it takes to be great.

When you think of someone being great, what do you think about?  A star athlete?  Someone who has accumulated great wealth?  An extremely talented person?  A CEO of a growing company?  A famous actor?  A musician with songs listed high on the charts?

While these people may be great according to man's standards, God has a different standard of greatness.

Look at this story in the Bible with me.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and knelt down to make a request of Him.

“What do you want?” He inquired.

She answered, “Declare that in Your kingdom one of these two sons of mine may sit at Your right hand, and the other at Your left.”

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus replied. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” the brothers answered. 

“You will indeed drink My cup,” Jesus said. “But to sit at My right or left is not Mine to grant. These seats belong to those for whom My Father has prepared them.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them.

It shall not be this way among you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Jesus says to be great you have be a servant.  Greatness is not found in how many people serve you.  Rather it is found in how many people you are serving.  

I like what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said about this. 

"Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." 

If you want to be great in 2020, then make it your mission to serve others. 

If you want to be great in 2020, then lift others up. 

If you want to be great in 2020, then spend your time helping others get better.

If you want to be great in 2020, then humble yourself and help others succeed.

If you want to be great in 2020, then spend your time making other people stars instead of trying to be a star yourself. 

If you want to be great in 2020, then stop trying to be powerful and spend your time empowering others. 

If you want to be great in 2020, then invest in others.  

This is the path to greatness in 2020! 

Dec 3, 2019

Raise Your Children's Ministry Leadership Level in 2020

Do you feel like you have plateaued as a leader?

That the ministry has outgrown you?

Or perhaps you want to see the ministry grow, but you don't know what the next step is?

Maybe you feel paralyzed as a leader?

Are you looking to add more skills and tools to your leadership tool box? 

When you hear the quote - "Everything rises and falls on leadership,"  you cringe because you feel the weight of that statement.

You are not alone.  We have all been there.

But the good news is this - You don't have to stay at your current leadership level.  You can grow to the next level.  2020 can be the best year of ministry you've ever seen.

How can this happen?  The best way to grow as a leader is by having a coach.  Someone who has been where you are.  Someone who knows what you are facing because they have faced the same things.

I can be that person for you.  I would be honored to serve as your children's ministry coach.  I have served in churches with 50 people to churches that ministered to tens of thousands of people.  I can help you avoid critical mistakes because I have made them.

Advance Children's Ministry coaching includes...
  • 6 months of coaching.  Next available session runs January to June 2020.
  • Monthly group coaching call.  Live, one-hour sessions on the important topics listed below.  Each session includes teaching and group discussions.  You will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the topics with Dale and the other leaders in the group.  Sessions are also recorded so you have access to them later. 
    • January - Self Leadership 
    • February - Leading Staff and Volunteers 
    • March - Leading through Change and Challenges 
    • April - Keys to Growing a Ministry 
    • May - Creating a Dynamic Children's Ministry Culture in Your Church 
    • June - Staying Relevant in Children's Ministry
  • Personalized growth plan:

Personal one hour phone session with Dale to help you identify areas of growth and development. From this, Dale will help you create a one year growth plan in those areas. Includes identifying your personality traits, strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Plan includes developing a personal mission statement, key books to read, guided growth conversations to have with key people in your life, action steps, setting goals and help measuring progress. There is also an one hour follow-up phone session at the end of the program to access and celebrate your growth.

  • Copy of three of Dale's books: ($46 value)

The Formula for Building a Great Volunteer Team

Lead Well in Children's Ministry

If Disney ran your Children's Ministry 

  • Online support. Each member of Advance will have access to a special online forum where they can ask questions about children’s ministry and leadership directly to Dale and the other members throughout the session. This gives you an experienced team available whenever you need them. You also retain access to this forum after the 6 months so you have ongoing support and encouragement.

    Access to the notes from the Kidmin GIG round table. In 2016, Dale founded a gathering of the leaders of the 30 largest children's ministries in the country. Each year they meet for two days to discuss and share their latest ideas, insights, ministry wins and challenges. As part of the Advance group, you will receive a copy of the latest discussions from this gathering.


    How much does the Advance six-month coaching experience cost? For a limited time, the cost is only $499. Upon acceptance into the program, a non-refundable deposit of $99 is due to hold your spot. Then $100 is due on the first of each month until your remaining balance is paid in full. If you pay the entire amount before the program begins, you receive a $50 discount.

     How can I be selected to be a part of Advance? 

    More questions? Email us at