A few weeks back, I had a chance to hang out with my two middle children – aged 7 and 9. We’ve had a few new leaders join our children’s ministry in the last several weeks, so during the course of that weekend, I asked them this question:
What do you wish your leaders in children’s ministry knew? In other words, if you could tell new leaders one thing you wish they understood, what would it be?
These were their answers along with my thoughts. I’ve taken the liberty of expressing their thoughts a little more concisely than they did, but here is what kids want you to know:
1. We like to have fun. Kids like to have fun. That shouldn’t come as any surprise. So, why should children’s ministry feel more like a chore than an adventure. Fun is not the means towards every end, and the gospel is not dependent on fun, but remember that kids will more apt to pay attention when they are having fun doing it.
2 . We wish you would focus on us. Kids want your undivided attention. Don’t spend all your time talking to other leaders about your weekend or with the student helpers in the room. They come there, in part, to see you, and they want you to pay attention to them. Stop and listen when they’re talking, and whatever you do, leave your cell phone in your pocket.
3. We need you to explain things to us even when we don’t ask. Kids will not always tell you when they don’t understand – especially in a group setting. Explain things to them even when they say they understand. Walk them through the instructions, and never assume that they know how to do something. Some kids would rather hear you say the same thing ten times than ask for help once.
4. We want to like you. Kids want to like adults. They really do. So, you need to give them a chance to like you. Be social with them. Ask questions about their lives and share things from your own life. Have fun with them and open.
5. We want you to be prepared. When you aren’t prepared, you convey a message to the kids you are influencing that what you are doing is not important. Know what you’re going to do, and do it. Don’t have down time where the kids are doing nothing. They are giving you their time, and the least you can do is be prepared.
6. We like it when you mix things up. Kids do not like the same thing over and over and over. Mix it up. Don’t teach them the same way every week. Ask oddball questions to get them talking. Be goofy. Mix things up. A little variety goes a long way with kids.
7. Be careful with us. My kids didn’t actually add this one, but from my work with kids I know it to be true. Kids are very impressionable and they soak up things like sponges. Make sure that what you are teaching them is grounded in Christ and grounded in Biblical truth. In all the you do, make sure that you do not lead a little one astray. If you need further confirmation of that, check out Matthew 18:6.