Top 6 Ways Children’s Ministry Loses Respect

Top 6 Ways Children's Ministry Loses Respect

Children’s ministry has long suffered from the Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome of “I don’t get no respect.”

Partially that is because churches, and often lead pastors, don’t understand the nature of what it means to build a spiritual foundation in kids.

But we are also to blame.

Sometimes, we conduct ourselves, and our ministries, in ways that do not inspire respect.

Here are some of those ways.

1. Silliness

Children’s pastors are often too silly. They think that acting like a big kid is the way to win over kids, parents and staff.

It never works. It always backfires.

Think about how you dress. Pay attention to how you interact with parents, workers and staff.

You are a minister. Act like it.

2. Cartoons

Bible stories are not cartoons.

When you continually reduce real stories of real people in real situations to a cartoon, you reduce ministry to childcare.

This is particularly true in elementary ministry.

Don’t expect people to respect/value ministry that is centered on cartoons. Cartoons entertain but don’t accomplish much else.

I have never met an adult who told me their life was impacted at 9 years old by watching a cartoon.

3. Videos

Using videos to enhance your teaching can be helpful.

Constantly using videos to replace teaching gives the impression you don’t really believe in what you are doing.

We would never allow school teachers to rely on videos the way we do in children’s church.

4. Weak Content

I can’t say it enough.

We can teach lessons that don’t offend like sharing and kindness or whatever, or we can teach lessons that inspire kids to build a relationship with the Lord.

Real lessons about real people with real life issues who learned to depend on the Lord.

That’s what draws kids into a faith-built connection with the living Lord. That’s what will frame their lives for the future.

Values do not inspire kids to build a relationship with the Lord. Content matters.

5. Disorganization

Get organized for crying out loud.

Sloppy procedures and last minute preparations do not inspire confidence or respect.

6. Spectators

Leonard Sweet said, “It’s not the art of the performance; it’s the art of the participation.”

To this day I am still kicking myself that I didn’t say that first. Len Sweet was right.

It’s not about putting on a great show for the kids. It’s about how you turn them from spectators into participants.

When people/church/workers/staff/pastor sees the power of getting kids to participate in their own learning, something happens that generates respect.

Without participation/involvement your ministry looks predictable and feels flat.

There might be more. What do you think?

By |2017-03-07T18:11:21+00:00August 12th, 2014|Ministry Articles|8 Comments


  1. Larry August 19, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Like Jim Wideman says, if we’re tired of people thinking children’s ministry is just baby sitting, then don’t baby sit- teach them the Word!

  2. Rebecca Bryant August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Re: #4, do you mean “weak” content? Very good read… I totally agree re: cartoons.

  3. Karen Taylor August 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    You have some hard-hitting truths here in this post that needed to be said long time ago.
    Sometimes you inherit the damage from previous mistakes made, and it can take time to get people to take a new leader with a different approach seriously, and sometimes even longer to win their support again. But many church folks, especially parents are forgiving and once they see real change, you’ll get the support eventually.

  4. Ruth August 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    My life was impacted by Veggietales at 9 years old and younger. It’s also important to teach kids moral values; theology is something that we work through all our lives, but at that young of an age, kindness and sharing are just as important and much more applicable. “Building a relationship with the Lord” is not a very tangible thing to a six-year-old. A kid who learns how to pray but doesn’t learn how to show love to other people is going to grow up looking hypocritical.

  5. Rochelle August 22, 2014 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I agree with Ruth! VeggieTales is awesome! Why can’t we teach the Word of God to children via whatever means the child best learns from?

  6. John August 23, 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

    1 ,5, and 6 are okay. I think 2, 3, and 4 are way off base. Over all a little harshly worded, I think. 2: If by cartoons you mean making the “Bible Story” a slapstick comedy bit and adding silly things that didn’t really happen, I’d agree. But if you think it’s bad to give an artistic, visual representation through animation, I think you don’t understand how visual stories stick with children. Animated Disney cartoons and the morals and values that go with them stick with kids for their entire lives. We should not ignore this in our work. 3: Who says sharing is weak content? Have you ever tried to get a child to share when he or she doesn’t want to? That is fighting the devil! Sharing and kindness are also at the heart of the Gospel and are what Jesus came to do. Just because a lesson is about sharing or kindness, doesn’t mean it’s not straight from the mouth of Jesus. Sharing and being kind are some of the most difficult commands that our Lord gave. If sharing and kindness are weak content, it’s because they aren’t being taught correctly. 4: You need to do some research on kids learning styles and how schools ARE using videos more and more. Kids are learning differently today and for good or for bad, we need to keep up with the times and with the technology that children are familiar with. We need to speak the Gospel in their visual language. To fail to do so would be the same as going to another country and expecting the kids all to learn your language instead of you learning theirs.

  7. Roger Fields August 25, 2014 at 10:11 am - Reply

    I appreciate the vigorous response. I like using interaction, games and visuals to teach. No problem. Lecture is the worst teaching method for kids. My main objection to the over-use of cartoons is when we turn Bible characters into cartoon characters. There is a difference between Jesus and Sponge Bob. I’m not saying we should never show kids a Bible cartoon. But we do them a dis-service when our over-arching depiction of the Bible is cartoony. The Bible was not written as a children’s book. We dumb it down when we make it one. One reason why teenagers turn away from their faith as they grow older is because we have made faith way too childish. In our desperation to speak the kids’ language and hold their attention, we have simply given them a reason to grow out of their faith.

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