What image comes to your mind when you picture children’s ministry? For many of us, it is a puppet interacting with a group of children or a minister using an inspiring object lesson. Now what comes to mind when you picture youth ministry? Perhaps you see a crazy game or a youth pastor leading a weekend retreat. Either way, most of us have a definite opinion about what children’s ministry or youth ministry looks like. There is, however, a middle area of ministry that is sometimes hard to define– preteen ministry. This ministry area consists of children between the ages of 9 and 12. They don’t consider themselves to be “little kids” anymore, but they aren’t quite teenagers yet. These children are definitely in a transition period. As children’s ministers, we want to reach them at this critical time and help them make the transition to youth ministry.
Ideas You Can Use
Use Small Groups Effectively
Effective use of large and small groups is important, especially if you cannot completely separate your preteen ministry from your younger elementary age students (grades 1-3).
Involve Preteens in Ministry
Give preteens leadership roles in your children’s ministry. This will build their self-esteem and give them purpose and fulfillment.
Creativity is Key
It is important for preteens to have fun. Here are some creative ways to add excitement to your ministry.
Have a program for transitioning preteens out of children’s ministry and into youth ministry.
They (preteens) need pastors and leaders who will stand with them as they test their legs, finding the footing of their faith as they discover a God who grows up with them.
There are many resources that can help with preteen ministry. Click the button below for a list to get started.
Contributing Author: Curt Knowles
Curt Knowles is a member of the International Children’s Ministry teaching team. He has trained children’s ministers globally and throughout the United States. He and his wife, Sandy, have served as children’s pastors, evangelists, and camp directors over the past 15 years. Curt holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in both Computer Science and Theology, and has worked as a Data Architect/Engineer for the past 25 years. Curt and Sandy have two children (Jordan and Jeremy) and three granddaughters (Maddie, Emmy, and Chloe). They currently live in Gallatin, TN and serve on the 3Trees Kids Ministry serve team at 3Trees Church in Russell Springs, KY.
Too often, the nursery is considered a babysitting service for parents and grandparents. While it is essential to care for the physical needs of infants and toddlers while in the nursery, it is equally important to begin teaching them about Jesus. A baby begins to see the heart of God through the heart of the nursery volunteers. As babies learn to trust the volunteers, they learn that church is a place where people care about us. Although a baby cannot understand a Bible story, volunteers can pray blessings upon each young child as they give them a bottle or rock them to sleep. As babies become toddlers, they can learn basic Bible truths such as God loves me and God made me through Bible stories, finger plays, and other appropriate learning activities.
Here’s what it takes to transform your nursery from a babysitting service to a ministry
- Purpose: What do you hope to accomplish as you feed infants and do finger plays with toddlers? Every nursery ministry has specific goals: every child will be loved and accepted; every child will learn that God made him and loves him; every child will feel safe in the nursery environment; every child will be encouraged to develop acceptable social skills.
- Leadership: A nursery ministry needs capable leadership. Above all, a nursery director loves infants and toddlers. She understands the value of providing excellent ministry to them. A capable director is able to develop good relationships with parents and volunteers. She is gifted in administration and able to develop schedules, procedures, forms, curriculum, etc. to help the nursery run smoothly and safely.
- Established policies: Policies are developed to help the nursery be a safe environment for infants and toddlers. They should be carefully developed and well communicated to parents, volunteers and the congregation. They should be consistently but lovingly enforced. Some of the policies that need to be developed include: age of volunteers, training required for volunteers, types of snacks, discipline plan, sign in and sign out procedures, diaper and restroom procedures, etc.
- Facilities: Your nursery facilities may not be ideal but they can be improved. Provide good lighting, paint walls and furniture, organize toys and equipment, and remove clutter. Above all, keep the nursery clean.
- Trained workers: Select workers carefully by using a children’s ministry application and referral forms. Train them by modeling appropriate ministry to nursery age children as well as by providing books, podcasts, CDs, and DVDs on nursery ministry. Encourage the workers to be involved with the infants and toddlers by playing on the floor with them, holding them, reading or singing to them, and talking to them even if they cannot respond.
With careful planning, your nursery can be a place where children learn about the love of God. There is no greater ministry.
Ideas You Can Use
Prepare the Classroom
Your nursery space should be carefully planned to allow for its many uses- playtime, rest, and care of children.
The number one priority of any nursery is to keep children safe. A safe environment allows for peace of mind for parents and a place where children can feel the love of Jesus.
Recruit with this understanding: nursery ministry is a significant ministry. Nursery ministry meets the needs of babies and their families.
Be intentional in your plan to teach young children, not just care for their physical needs.
Some of the best times to minister to parents are during significant events, such as births or baby dedications.
There are many resources that can help with nursery ministry. Click the button below for a list to get started.
With each season that occurs throughout the year, change tends to come as well. Things begin to look different: flowers bloom, leaves fall, and the temperature increases and decreases depending on where you live. As the Christmas season approaches, there are also changes that take place. Yes, we see the physical changes such as decorations and lights that fill children with excitement and anticipation, but most importantly there is a reminder of eternal hope that comes through the birth of Jesus.
One of the most beautiful things about Christmas is that it not only highlights the coming of Jesus as a baby, but it is a reminder that we can be excited and filled with that same anticipation because Jesus is indeed coming again! Many times when we are teaching children, it can be easy to overlook the sacredness and the awe and wonder of this deep theological truth. If we begin to connect these dots to the children and families in our ministries, we are instilling them with something that goes far beyond a holiday season and deep into their hearts, minds, and hopefully their households.
The arrival of Jesus changed everything. He was constantly challenging those He encountered to live their live differently and to serve others. This Christmas season, let’s strive to display to kids the awe, wonder, and excitement Jesus brought to the world.
Ideas You Can Use
One of the best ways to teach kids about the anticipation of Christ’s birth and return is through the celebration of Advent.
Create a Jesse Tree
This is a unique spin on the traditional Christmas tree. A Jesse tree is a way to teach children the salvation story from the beginning of the Bible.
Give to Others
Christmas is a wonderful time to step away from the normal pace of life and think about others. Whether you are a children’s minister or a parent, you can create windows of opportunity for kids to help other people.
Prayer and Praise Ornaments
It may seem simple, but Christmas is a good time for children to reflect on their year and what is to come in the year ahead. Have children create prayer and praise ornaments as a reminder of all that God has done.
Community of Faith
The Christmas season is not just for kids; it is for all people! During this special time of year, let children spend time with believers that are older and younger than them.
Teach the Story
In the hustle and bustle of the season, sometimes we get so busy crafting and giving that we forget to teach the story of Jesus’ birth. Lots of magnificent details can easily be overlooked.
Contributing Author: Joy Hensely
Joy is the Associate Pastor of Children at Spring Place Church of God of Prophecy. In July of 2016, she completed her Master of Arts degree in Ministry Studies from Lee University. Her desire is to develop and build relationships with children, their families, and volunteers that point them not only towards a growing relationship with God, but also fulfilling God’s call for their own lives.
Picture it: You’ve put hours into your children’s church lesson. You’re just sure that by the time you give your invitation for prayer your whole class will either be weeping at the altar or so inspired by your message that they will be running to the signup sheet for the next mission trip. You boldly begin your lesson. You start out confident. Things are going well, and then 5 minutes into the lesson– IT happens. You see the legs start swinging and little fingers poking their neighbors. You hear the whispers and see the squirming has begun. And while some students are getting fidgety and restless, others are blankly staring off into the distance. It’s then that you realize you’ve completely lost all of them! While their attention is somewhere, it is far from the lesson you are teaching!
So, what do we do to keep children’s attention? How do we teach students in a way that’s effective and relevant? Sure, I could reflect back to the time when I was in Sunday school or children’s church, but I was born in the late 70’s. Let’s face it– teaching with a flannel graph, filmstrips and putting little foil star stickers on an attendance chart isn’t relevant, so therefore, would not be effective in the day in which we live.
Over the years I have watched churches put amazing effort into special events such as VBS, which is great; however, why don’t we put that kind of dedication and creativity into our week to week ministries? Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” I realize that we can’t necessarily transform our entire church every week like we would for Bible school. But we can indeed use our imaginations, creativity and online resources to implement those same strategies in our children’s ministry area, just on a smaller scale in a more focused way. It’s important that if we are providing ministry for children, we do it heartily, as unto the Lord!
Ideas You Can Use
Bring Story to Your Classroom
Everyone benefits from making a simple Bible story come alive right in front of them. The key is to find the main focus or the setting of your story, and ask yourself, “How can I create that in my room?”
Create Awesome Bulletin Boards
I love using bulletin boards in my children’s ministry area. They’re great for so many reasons. You can use them for information for parents/volunteers and to display student work. However, I love using them as a part of my lesson, especially if I’m teaching a series with a theme.
Become a Good
Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than having to listen to a speaker that has no enthusiasm! I’ve come to the conclusion that if it’s boring for me, it’s probably boring for the kids! That’s why we need to be good storytellers.
Use Digital Clips and Media
We live in a high tech world. Children will benefit from the use of media to make the Bible come alive.
All of us children’s ministers have, at some point or another, had our kids act out the Bible story. Although this can be a great technique, after a handful of times it can become a bit redundant. Continue reading for ideas using the same concept but with a fresh twist.
I realize that many people are bothered when things get messy! Messy things bother me in some ways, but not when it comes to ministering to kids. I’ve learned they absolutely LOVE messy object lessons and science experiments!
Contributing Author: Amy Revels
Amy was born and raised in Michigan. She began serving in children’s ministry at the age of fourteen. She and her husband Furney have been married for sixteen years and have five children. Together, they have served in pastoral ministry for over fourteen years as well as Intermediate Youth Camp directors for 5 years. Currently, she serves as the children’s ministry director for the Great Lakes Region. Amy has served in children’s ministry for nearly twenty-five years. She devotes her time to homeschooling her kids and incorporating the Gospel in every aspect of their life.
My church recently began having family worship services twice a month on Sunday nights. The goal is to incorporate all ages in worship. One of the ways we do this is by providing the children with instruments to play while singing. I was next to one very rambunctious three year old boy this past week whose mom is on the praise team. He loved the first song and was so excited about the worship. As the song ended, he shouted loud enough for almost everyone to hear, “Good job with singing Mommy!” It brought a smile to all of our faces. Not only had he been given the opportunity to worship God through song, but He had the privilege of being led into worship by his mom. As children’s ministers, we also have the privilege of leading kids into the worship of their God.
We know that it is biblical for children to experience true worship. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, children were active participants in worship. Moses, Jehoshophat, and Nehemiah all invited children to be part of worshiping the Lord. (Exodus 10:8,9; 2 Chronicles 10:13, 18; Nehemiah 12:43) Jesus himself accepted the worship of children. When the children saw Jesus healing the blind and the crippled in the Temple, they began to shout praises, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” This made the rulers of the Temple angry. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Jesus. “Yes,” Jesus answered. “Haven’t you read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”
We often think of worship as being a time of singing in church. While this is certainly an important part of our worship, we can also teach children that worship is anything we do to show God that we know who He is and what He has done. We can worship with words by singing and saying words of praise. We can also worship with our actions by reading the Bible, praying, and obeying Him. As children begin to understand the different ways of worshiping God, they learn that worship is both a lifestyle and an experience. We live our lives in worship (Romans 12:1,) and we also experience specific times of worship, such as singing and praising God in church.
Ideas You Can Use
Learning Activity: “What is Worship?”
Make a large worship chart by writing the word “worship” at the top of the paper and including the following definition: Worship is what you do to show God that you know who He is and what He has done. Under the definition, divide the paper into two columns, “Who is God?” and “What has God done?”
Worship Using the Word of God
Use the Word to show children who God is, provide examples of worshippers, help children define right attitudes of worship, define worship, and invite children to worship.
Worship through Singing, Movement, and Instruments
Praise and worship is a wonderful opportunity to engage every part of the child— body (movement), mind (singing) and spirit (feelings of joy, sensing the presence of our God as the child focuses on who God is).
Active Worship Ideas
Worship Through Prayer
Prayer is an important act of worship. Encourage your children to participate in prayer by planning creative, interactive prayer activities.
Worship Through Giving
Giving is another way we can worship God with our actions. Vary the ways you invite children to give so that giving doesn’t become a habit but continues to be a true act of worship.
Make and use a praise cube to help children understand different ways they can worship God.
As a mom of two daughters and a children’s pastor, I wish I could tell you that my children developed a heart for missions through my inspired teaching, but I cannot. My oldest daughter first became aware of the needs of others in the world through the Helping Hands for Kids program. As a five year old, she attended a preschool class at the Assembly for Children in which the teacher shared about the needs of children in Guatemala. She began to tell me all about it. A few years later, we once again attended the General Assembly, and I took her to an afternoon mission’s fair where we learned about the work of missionaries in other countries. Once again, we talked to someone about the Helping Hands for Kids program. In a moment of divine inspiration, I asked her if she would like to be in charge of the program for our church. She was excited and told me that she had been praying for God to give her something to do for Him! That year, she was able to help raise over $1000 US dollars for curriculum and supplies for children’s ministers in Central and South America. Continue reading
I remember when I first fell in love with the camping ministry. It was the summer that I brought my youngest daughter to a camp for 6-8 year olds in the state of Tennessee. She and I were both campers because, at her age, the camp had the option for parents to attend with their child as a parent camper. We both left closer to God, and God continued to work in our lives through the camping ministry. His plan for my daughter was to encourage her spiritual growth each summer as she returned to camp. I will never forget the day she came home from Teen Camp hungry for more of God and His Word. She spent weeks studying the Bible and making notes. That camp was a turning point for her. God’s plan for me went beyond just attending camp. Continue reading
Prior to the birth of each of our daughters, we purchased an elegant, lovely silver photo album to collect photos of the most cherished of memories as they grew. As soon as they were born, we inserted their photo into the front cover and wrote out the details of their birth—their name, birth date, delivery time, and weight. Each photo album contained pages of empty pockets just waiting for photos to be inserted. Continue reading