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Good leaders ask good questions. They are also good listeners. Kevin E. Lawson says, “As we create teaching ministries for children, we must be attentive to how children are processing what they are learning. We must allow time to listen to their questions, not just have them answer our questions” (Shaped by God, p. 144).
Check out each of these asking and listening skill-sharpening posts:
People learn differently. When we lead sessions that involve a variety of learning styles, we help kids connect with God’s story and live more deeply into it. That means more fun for kids, fewer discipline problems for teachers, and greater opportunity for life-changing ministry! Leaders can use these learning-style quizzes to discover how the kids in their group learn best.
Children’s ministry leader Karen DeBoer says, “No matter how you’re wired when it comes to prayer, it’s important to invite kids into your conversations with God.” Get ideas for doing so in Praying with Kids.
It’s not uncommon for those who are engaged in ministry with children to wonder (and worry) about the role they play in leading a child to Jesus. This post provides helpful answers.
Crossroads Kids Club offers a great 5-minute video overview of God's salvation story. One note: This video does not describe the "now and not yet" aspect of the kingdom, but describes it as a future-only reality. If you show this to kids, talk about the fact that the kingdom is already here, but not yet here in its fullness.
DwellSongs is a series of three CDs (also available on iTunes) that feature Bible songs and Scripture verses set to music. If your church uses the DWELL curriculum, consider providing families with the music or pointing them to ordering information as a way to continue the learning that’s happening at church with the nurturing that’s happening at home.
It’s easier to memorize Scripture when you’re singing it. Seeds Family Worship turns Bible verses into kid-friendly songs.
Rain for Roots is a Nashville-based band that’s “making new songs about the old story for children.” Listen to their music and view their videos here. One of our favorites is The Wedding Banquet—teach the chorus to your kids and ask them to sing it as an invitation to the communion table.
Josh Sweetman, youth director at Maranatha CRC in Lethbridge, AB, shared two children's message series he developed: a Lent series called The Broken Pot and an Advent series called The Words of Advent.
Bible Story Books and Picture Books
It’s great to have a selection of wonderful Bible story books and related picture books available for children to page through themselves and/or to read together in addition to or in place of the story found in your curriculum.
When choosing such books, it’s important to pay close attention to illustrations and language. Look for those that portray God’s people as diverse, and avoid those with cartoonish or all-white characters. Also steer clear of those that turn God’s story into a moral lesson.
Always have a Bible present when telling God’s story with young children, and show them where in your Bible the story you are about to tell them is found. Take the time to look up and read the Bible passage together with older children.
For an excellent resource on which Bibles and Bible storybooks work best according to age groups, check out the book I Wonder by Elizabeth Caldwell. In addition to her recommendations, Caldwell includes ideas for engaging a child’s curiosity about the Bible. We highly recommend this book for children’s ministry leaders and parents alike.
Does your congregation give children their own copy of a Bible? This post contains ideas for making that practice intergenerational.
Provide annual training on your church’s child safety policies. See the Safe section under the Providing a Welcoming Environment tab for ideas on how to do this well.
Gospel summary for kids: While it’s important for kids to understand the whole arc of Scripture, it’s not always easy to communicate it! Equip your children's ministry leaders with a copy of this Gospel summary.
Conferences for Growth
The Association for Presbyterian Church Educators is a Reformed binational organization that hosts an annual event. The speakers, workshop leaders, and opportunities to connect with others involved in ministry with children make attending this event worthwhile!
Faith Forward is an ecumenical event held each year for children and youth leaders who are interested in creating “radically inclusive, generous, and thoughtful” faith formation.
Children's Spirituality Summit: This conference brings together children's ministers, developmental psychologists, spiritual formation leaders, lay leaders, pastors, teachers, sociologists, parents, and theologians from a broad spectrum of Christian traditions to explore children's spiritual formation.
Looking for an easy activity to do with multiple ages or when you have extra time at the end of a session? A giant-sized coloring poster from Illustrated Ministry may fit the bill! (Read Talk, Paper, Scissors for why that’s such a good idea.) Sign up for the ICM mailing list to be alerted when new resources are available.
A well-written children’s book can provide powerful connections to a story from Scripture. Storypath reviews a wide variety of children’s books, creates ministry ideas, and organizes the results for you in lectionary, Scripture, and theme-based indexes.