3 Important Ways To Help Kids Develop A Heart For Worship

Worship is an important part of the Christian life.  It is a time of devoted focus toward God, expressing our love to Him.  In order to develop a heart of worship in children who are new in the faith (or young in age), there are some practical steps you should take.

1)  Understand each child’s journey into worship

As a Children’s Ministry Leader, we need to take the children on that Sunday’s journey to the place of worship.  Understand that every child is coming from different places into the worship service.  This includes the personal atmosphere that each child brings in with them.  Some kids are coming out of Sunday School or small groups where they have heard a lesson, played games, done crafts, ate snacks.  Other kids are coming from a home where there is major stress, may have witnessed an argument that morning, didn’t have breakfast, had too much breakfast, didn’t get enough sleep, don’t feel well, etc.  Be sensitive to each child’s journey, and do your best to help them along the way.

2)  Teach regularly about worship.

Explain the reason for worship – “to show and express our love to God.”  As often as possible, teach on the meaning, the methods, and results of worship.  Why do we raise our hands?  Why do we close our eyes?  Is there a “perfect” way to worship.  We tell our kids “It is not so important HOW you worship, but it is important THAT you worship!”

3)  Make sure you and your leaders actively demonstrate worship.

When you are actively engaged in worship, the kids see this, and it sends a strong message to them that worship is important.  If you or your leaders are not actively engaged in worship, this sends the opposite message.

Kids will imitate what they see.  Actively engaging in worship for kids often starts here, but it needs to move to the arena of inner purpose.  Kids are great at reading the group acceptance of worship.  Many kids lift their hands and go through the motions only because that is the accepted thing to do.  Do not be blind to this social reason for worship.  Let it begin here, but help them move to making it personal.  It’s not about imitation and duplication.  It is about adoration.

Are Church “Fall Festivals” Actually Counter-Productive?


Last year I wrote a post that caused a lot of discussion.  I thought I would revisit the subject since this blog has grown by over 1,000 readers since then, and many of you were not able to be a part of the discussion.

For my first twenty years in Children’s Ministry, I planned and hosted a “Fall Festival” (a.k.a. “Harvest Party”, “Hallelujah Night”, “Fall Fest”, “Family Fun Fest”, “Trunk or Treat”, etc.) at the church where I was serving.  These events generally were seen as a fun Family Event that served as an “alternative to trick-or-treating and Halloween.”

The typical “Fall Festival” usually looks a bit like this:

  • It is a family-oriented celebration/party.
  • It may have costumes.
  • Games are played.
  • Contests are held.
  • Food abounds.
  • Music blares.
  • Everyone enjoys themselves.

Certainly there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a Fall Festival on its face.  I love dressing up in funny costumes.  I love seeing what crazy costumes the kids will come up with.  I love games, fun, and candy.  All of that is awesome!!!

However, several years ago, I began to ask the question:  “Is our Fall Festival actually counter productive?” Could it be that this event actually works against what our mission is as the church:  “to know Christ, make Him known, and reach the lost people in our city and around the world?”

Now, before I go any further – I want to assure you that I am not indicting anyone who does Fall Festivals.  As I said, I have done one for the last twenty years.  But, as I and our pastoral team put more thought into it we had several questions come up.

1)  Why do we feel the need to do an “alternative event” for our families on Halloween?  We don’t do an “alternative event” for Mardis Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, or other random holidays.

2)  Are we really “connecting” with the lost people who come?  We consider it a “bridge event” (connecting the lost of our community to the church in a non-threatening way).    Do they end up just stopping by to play a game, win a bag of candy, and move right along to the next church that’s throwing a Harvest Party?

3)  What about the people in our neighborhoods?  I have been most frustrated by the fact that on the darkest night of the year, it seems the Church has gathered all of the “light” together in one place (the church) in order to “escape the darkness” – and there is absolutely no light represented in our neighborhoods.  For the last twenty years, the very people I MOST want to reach, my neighbors, have been out on Halloween going door-to-door.  On a night when they are voluntarily coming to MY house, giving me an opportunity to speak to them and show God’s love – my house is dark with no light on because…the pastor is at his church throwing an alternative party, mostly for other Christians.

I welcome your thoughts in the Comments Section.  I posted this as a means to initiate discussion and provoke thought on this subject.  I invite disagreement and diversity of opinion.  Would love to hear what you think.

How To Improve Safety And Security In Your Kids Ministry


One of the greatest needs and focuses of any Kids Ministry should be that of safety and security.  After all, we are entrusted with the most precious lives that mean the world to every parent who drops them off in our care.  If we do not do our due diligence in providing a safe a secure environment for the children, then we are not demonstrating the value that we claim to place on them.
Many of you are aware of my friends at KidCheck.  Well, they have developed a powerful child safety video and guide for organizations caring for children.  These tools are designed to provide actionable, specific best practices and suggestions that can easily be put into practice to improve child safety and minimize any possible safety and security issues.
The video “Improving Child Safety in Your Organization” and companion “Child Safety and Security” guide discuss the leading concerns around child safety to help organizations create a safe environment for the children in their care.
Topics include:
  • Creating a Security Team
  • Securing Your Facility
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Volunteer/Staff Policies
  • Emergency Situations
  • General Childcare Safety

Here is the best part:  they are providing it to you for FREE!  All you have to do is click on the video below and watch it yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

How The Internet Has Changed Kids Ministry

I ran across this family video (originally released on VHS tape – remember those?) the other day. It was produced in 1997 and was intended to teach kids who to use the internet. From this video, you would assume the only purpose the internet was to give kids a hands-on education. Of course, we realize just how much the internet has evolved since 1997.

Very little was mentioned about internet safety. In this piece that spans over 25 minutes, a mere 12 seconds was dedicated to teaching kids internet safety. My, how things have changed.

I certainly did my fair share of laughing at the styles, lack of high-res graphics, and the hokey theme song. It also got me thinking. How much has the internet changed Kids Ministry in the last 15 years? In 1997, a Children’s Ministry wouldn’t even have thought of having their own site for kids to come interact and learn about God’s Word.

What are the different ways that YOUR ministry is using the internet to minister to kids? Share some of your best ideas in the comments section. We owe it to each other to help each other learn!

Should Kids Pastors Talk To Their Groups About “Gay Marriage”?

With the news yesterday of the Supreme Court striking down the “Defense Of Marriage Act”, the topic of “Gay Marriage” is once again a major story in the news.  No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for a Christian parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.

I received a question yesterday from a fellow Kids Pastor asking my opinion on whether or not he should “address” his Kids Ministry on the topic of Gay Marriage and/or Homosexuality in general.  I gave him my opinion, so I thought I would share it with you here – in case there were others who were wrestling with this same question.

In short, my answer is, “No.”

I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing “as a group.”  So many children are at different parts of the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity.  When you address something as serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.

In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids.  I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids.  That’s unfortunate.  However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids.  This should be something that parents include in their general talks about “sexuality” with their kids.

Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it – treat that just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality.  Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject.  Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up.  Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.”  Then, follow the cues of the parent.  If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead.  Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.

An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or “discussion” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend.  Allow parents to attend with their children if they wish.  Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality (“God created male and female to complement one another.  Marriage is the life-long commitment between one man and one woman.”).

The topic of “gay marriage” and “homosexuality” is a difficult one.  It is polarizing.  While we don’t ever shy away from the truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us.  We want clarity, not confusion.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Do you plan to address it as a larger group?  In small group time?  I welcome your thoughts.

3 Tips To Help You Be The WORST Leader You Can Be


There are so many posts and books about “How To Be A Better Leader.”  I’ve written a few and have read even more.  So, I thought I would take a different route and give you a couple of tips on how to be a bad leader – in fact, the WORST leader you can be!

1)  Be Unpredictable

If you want to be a bad leader, make it hard for your team to know what you want, what you think, or what mood you will be in.  Volunteers hate it when they have to guess what you feel is the right way to handle things.  Unpredictability is one of the worst characteristics of a bad leader.

2)  Give Most Of Your Attention To The “Squeaky Wheels”

Bad leaders fail to honor, praise, or sometimes even recognize those on their team who are faithful, hard-working team players.  Bad leaders tend to only respond to those who are whiny and critical.  So, if you want to be a bad leader, definitely make plans to ignore your “A-Team” and spend all your time trying to please the critics and whiners.

3)  Play It Safe – Always!

If you want to be the worst leader you can be, then you need to NEVER take risks.  Don’t place someone in an area of ministry until they have proved themselves to “be a star.”  Don’t give younger volunteers opportunities to step up the plate – because, what if they fail?  And, definitely DON’T raise the bar for those who are serving.  Make entry easy and serving even easier.  Asking too much of a volunteer might make them want to quit.  After all, “nobody wants to be challenged!”

So, there you have it: “Three Tips To Help you Be The WORST Leader You Can Be!”  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Are You Missing The Trees?



We have all heard the phrase, “They can’t see the forest for the trees.”  This usually refers to someone who is so totally focused on the individual problems, issues, or difficulties of life that they fail to see the BIG picture.  While this can often happen in the life of a Kidmin Pastor/Leader, I believe there is a VISION failure that can be even more devastating.

Sometimes, as leaders, we are missing the TREES for the forest.  We become focused on the BIG picture (the forest) and we lose sight of the trees (individuals).  Ministry is not ONLY about the BIG picture, it is also – and most specifically –  about the individual.

When Jesus gave the GREAT COMMISSION to His followers just before He ascended to Heaven, He said, “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

Often, we focus a lot on the global aspect of the GREAT COMMISSION:  “all the nations.”  We like to think of big groups, large crowds, huge attendance.  We are trained that way – especially in the American mindset.  Everything becomes about the group, rather than the individual.  The larger our ministry group gets, the easier it is to start looking at it as a forest, rather than a group of individual trees.

We must never forget the individual aspect of the GREAT COMMISSION: “disciples.”  Disciples are not created in herds.  Disciples are created as individuals.  Jesus said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Baptism is a personal and individual experience.  Oh, sure, you might put a lot of people under at once, but the experience is one of individual outward display of inward change.  “Teaching them to obey all the commands I have given you.”  Oh sure, you might be able to teach a lesson to a large group, but the only way you will know if they are “obeying” is by knowing each of them individually, personally, deeply.

I had a God-moment this morning while praying and studying.  The Lord challenged me to take a step further into knowing each of the children in my ministry deeply.  He challenged me to stop looking at them as a herd, but to see them as individual sheep.  I committed to do just that.

How about you?  Are you seeing ministry as a “group exercise” or “individual life change?”  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Ten Rules For Dealing With Others


I am sure most of you have heard of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  He is one of the more famous authors and motivational speakers of the 20th Century.  He had “10 Rules” that he operated under when dealing with others.  I thought it would be interesting to see how many of these you are practicing on a daily basis in ministry:

1.  Learn to remember people’s names.  People’s names are important to them.  Forgetting a person’s nameis often taken as a sign you are not interested in them.

2.  Relax and be a comfortable person to be with.  Make sure it is not a tense situation being around you.  No one enjoys being around uptight people.

3.  Learn to be an easy-going person.  Take things in stride.  Don’t let little things bother you.

4.  Don’t be egotistical or give the impression you know everything.  Work at learning from those around you.  Learn to respect other people’s opinions.

5.  Be an interesting person.  Be open to new things.  Take on new challenges.

6.  Smooth our your rough spots.  Learn to be gracious, polite, and tactful.

7.  Be a peacemaker.  Forgive.  Honestly try to correct every misunderstanding you are involved in.

8.  Overlook people’s faults.  Work at choosing to like others until you learn to do it naturally.

9.  Boost other people.  Encourage them, support them, congratulate them, and tell them WHY you appreciate them.

10.  Develop spiritual depth so you have something to pass on to others.  Learn to share this strength with people you meet.

So, how are you doing with Dr. Peale’s “Ten Rules”?  How many have you mastered?  Which don’t come naturally for you?

“Helping Kids Deal With The Tornado Tragedy”

We are all in shock and disbelief about the tornado tragedy in Moore, OK this week.  Like many, you might have had the thought, “Wow.  That could have happened here.”  And, it’s true.  Tragedy knows no boundaries.  It does not discriminate between people.  Tragedy can hit any community, any family, any individual, at any time.

Aside from tornados – there are mass shootings, terrorist attacks, Earthquakes, and other tragedies that eventually strike every family.  The death of a loved one.  An accident that permanently injures someone.  The sudden loss of income due to layoffs or being fired.  These are the every day tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

This is a post that I originally posted back in the Summer of 2012 after the “Batman Theater Shootings” in Colorado.  It is a teaching I did for our parents on “How To Talk To Your Kids About Death And Tragedy.”  I thought it was appropriate to revisit this post this week.  I have included the outline below.

You can hear the audio of the entire teaching here:

Feel free to use this to teach the parents in your own church.  I pray it is helpful.

“How To Talk To Your Kids About Death & Tragedy” 

  1. Be honest with them.
  2. Use appropriate language.     Hebrews 9:27
  3. Allow them to ask questions.
  4. Allow your child to be emotional.   Ecclesiastes 3:4
  5. Be aware of your own need to grieve.
  6. Grieve together.  Romans 12:15      Job 2:11-13
  7. Don’t force an emotional response.
  8. Expect regression.
  9. Pray together.    Hebrews 13:5
  10. Remember that grieving is a process, not an event.

Five Habits Of “On-Time” Leaders!


Time is precious.  We only have so many years on this Earth, only 7 days a week, and only 24 hours in a day.  Sadly, too many leaders waste MUCH of the time they are given.  When you waste time it can have a negative impact on your leadership and your relationships.

I challenge you to adopt the five habits of the “On-Time” Leader!

1.  Arrive ON TIME!    If you are supposed to meet someone for lunch, be at a staff meeting, or attend an event – arrive ON TIME!  When you arrive late it sends a message to the person you are meeting that “I didn’t value your time enough to plan ahead so I would be on time.”

2.  Start ON TIME!
If you are leading a meeting or event – start on time.  If you say the meeting starts at 6, then start at 6 – not 6:04.  When you consistently start late, even if you are trying to be courteous to the late arrivals, you are training your people to arrive late.  You are also sending a value message to those who did make sure to arrive early that their time is not as important as those who arrived late.

3.  End ON TIME!
Nothing is worse than when an event or meeting is advertised to end at a certain time and the leader of the meeting becomes so engrossed in the sound of their own voice that they allow the meeting to creep past the end time that was announced.  The more your tendency to go over time in your meetings, the less likely you are to get people to return to your meetings.

4.  Redefine what ON TIME means!
All of my team (including those 5th graders on my Junior Leadership Team) can quote you my philosophy when it comes to on time.  I always tell them, “If you’re early – you’re ON TIME.  If you’re ON TIME – you’re late.  If you’re late – there’s NO EXCUSE!”  If you are a leader, you can’t be walking into a meeting or event right at the advertised start time.  You must be early to set the tone for the meeting and mingle with those who are attending.

5.  Expect the unexpected!
Allow extra time for unexpected details that might derail your plans.  This goes for when you are planning a meeting, planning how much time it will take to travel somewhere, etc.  If you build in time for the “unexpected”, then you will no doubt be ON TIME.