Tag Archives: discipline

Things I’m Big On In Children’s Church


1. I’m big on being prepared.

Everything should be finished and ready to go before Sunday morning. 90% of frustration alleviation is preparation!

2. I’m big on timeliness.

Each volunteer depends on the others to be at their post on time to serve their role. Parents and Sunday School Teachers depend on us to open the doors promptly. Starting service on time adds predictability which is important to children when establishing order.

3. I’m big on smooth transitions.

I hate downtime. Volunteers who are doing a part of the service should keep their eyes on their schedule and skip ahead. If their segment is coming up, they should be ready (with their team if they have one) and pass me on the steps going up while I’m coming down.

4. I’m not big on unplanned interruptions.

If someone needs the microphone during the service… they need to have asked for it before… or while I’m not on the stage.

5. I’m big on discipline.

I want us to enjoy our time with the kids… and them with us. The way to do that is to maintain an understanding of mutual respect between ourselves and them.

6. I’m big on giving away segments.

I’m not interested in my children’s church becoming the “Pastor James Show”. If there is a leader who would like to assist by taking a segment here and there… or even every week… they only need tell me. Pretty much anything short of the teaching and altar time is available.

Grace And Discipline


Two different children acting out in two different ways sparked the idea for this post today. One was a 3rd grade boy on our Rangers class… the other was my 1.5 year old son. They both were acting out in ways that were unusual for them… and because it was unusual… grace was given.

My son, or “Dunder” as we call him, was having a rough day yesterday. He was crying uncontrollably any time his Mom walked away from him. He was sensitive, whiny and just all around bad… but in a weird way. Just when we were about to pack him in a box and ship him away we theorized that he may be teething and gave him some baby Tylenol. His behavior improved within the hour. The boy was in pain apparently.

Later that evening at our Wednesday church services I was brought a couple of young men who had exchanged blows while picking up the game room for pre-class worship time. I listened to the excuses and issued my standards. I told them I’d be talking to their parents and that I wanted to be able to tell them that the boys had been good the rest of the evening. I told them to sit separately and go back into worship. One of the two was crying uncontrollably the entire time… which was unlike him… but I figured he was just upset I was talking to his parents.

Later that evening I got a call from his teacher. He was causing problems in class and was refusing to sit in time out. I was ready to put the fear of God in this kid. I was going to lay down the law and be absolutely sure he knew that he could not act this way in class and expect to get away with it. I was going to call the parents out from church… and possibly read them the riot act as well.

I had the child meet me out in the hall with the teacher… I felt my heart soften toward the boy. Kids who cause two sets of problems in same night, who don’t do it every week, are probably going through something. I asked him what the trouble was tonight. He looked to the ground and said that he hadn’t slept well the night before. I now noticed how red his eyes were. The boy was exhausted! No wonder he was acting out.

All of my plans flew out the window… grace for his situation came in it’s place. I told him that even when he’s sleepy he needs to make good choices. That while I was still going to talk to his parents, I didn’t want to add to it that he wasn’t obeying his teachers. I told him that he would go back into class and service his time… but that he could lay his head on the table for the rest of class if he wished to rest.

I tend to be a person who sticks tightly to the rules and policies… and this serves me well most of the time. But I always run the risk of doing so blindly, with little consideration to the people involved. My prayer is that God will help me and those like me to always be ready to forget what they deserve and be ready to give the grace that He has shown me so often.

Struggles With CM Discipline


I interviewed a few kids from my children’s church last week. I asked them what they thought would be the greatest struggles a children’s minister would have. Without exception every single one thought that they, themselves were the greatest challenge.

“Trying to get kids to sit still and listen.”

“Kids talking too much.”

“Making sure we don’t try to leave.”

Though I’m convinced their answers come from a naturally me-centered world due to their level of development, they still have a bit of a point. For many children’s ministers maintaining discipline in children’s ministry is a huge struggle. It doesn’t really matter how much you prepare that illustrated sermon if the kids won’t still still enough to listen to it.

Though I thoroughly cover Proper Discipline for Children’s Ministry in a podcast series, and I encourage you to give them a listen, here are a few basic tips for lowering the ‘badness’ level in your group.

1. Discipline is not a bad thing.

Many of us hate the word discipline because we were mistreated or abused under that banner. Discipline is not punishment. It is helping children into becoming more like Jesus. Proper discipline is discipling.

2. Discipline is based on a relationship of mutual respect.

Children don’t respect people because of position… they respect the folks who they have a proper relationship with. It is only though relationships that we can learn what makes a kid tick. It’s only through relationship that they can see your example. It’s only through relationship that they’ll open their heart to you and allow you to shape them into the person God created them to be.

3. Discipline is not trying to get a child to be good… but to be Godly.

For to long we’ve been trying to get kids to be ‘good’ in church. We succeed… but only in teaching them to put on a face when they come to church. Then we wonder why they turn up pregnant or suicidal in their teens. “They were such a good kid,” we’ll say. Teaching a child to be good only teaches them to not get caught. Teaching a child to be like Jesus goes beyond changing their behavior (so that I can get through my service without drama) and becomes more about changing their motivation. We should be teaching them that it’s okay to be themselves, but that they only become who they truly are when they allow the people God has placed in their lives to guide them.

Feedback? Do you have any? Post in the comments.

Practical Ways To Redirect A Child’s “Super Powers”

Before you dive into this post, you should first read Helping Kids Use Their Super Powers For Good, the post this post is a follow-up to.

“Any practical suggestions for redirecting some of the “bad” powers toward Christ-centered purposes?  For example, my wife had a child who liked being the center of attention in music time, so she had him hold the poster-board with the lyrics.  He got to be up front (which he loved) and learned to serve the other kids at the same time! What do you do with the very active child to redirect his energy while in a group setting?” question submitted by reader Austin.

Austin already has the right idea… or at least his wife does. 😉

I don’t know if there is going to be a hard-set way to redirect every child’s ‘powers’. Every child is so unique and every situation requires a different approach. We can look at things from one step back though and give some suggestions to help folks come up with their own ways to harness and redirect our kid’s energies.

1. Learn That Kid

What makes them who they are? What kind of family-life do they have? How do they act at school? At home? Typically I’ve found that every challenging child has at least one environment that they thrive in. I find that area… study it to see why it’s working, and try to weave that into my program… or at least their part of the program. Is it the leader? The group dynamic? The discipline structure? Something is pulling the best from that child and I’m going to find out what it is and harness it for myself.

2. Imagine Their Potential

God has a plan for every person. A plan to prosper them and not to harm them. Every good and perfect Gift comes from God. God also works everything out for the good of those who love him. Knowing these things means that I must believe God has a plan for my kid. He has a set of gifts and talents that God wants to use. It’s my job to have a vision for each child that is shaped by what I know about how God feels toward his children. Every negative must be seen as a positive. I know that seems to make no sense… but God has a plan right? It may require a lot of prayer… but you must have a clear viision of what God possibly has in store for that child. We’re not talking about knowing exactly to the day what God will have them doing… but more of a view of the kind of person God created them to be.

Once you have that vision, you can then…

3. Provide An Atmosphere That Draws Them To Their Potential

Our goal is not to make them be good… it’s to help them become like Christ. We’re not, no not never going to change a child with time-outs and conferences with parents. God will change a child’s heart when we provide situations where his intentions for their ‘powers’ are presented. When a child is allowed to be the Godly version of themselves, and they are accepted and loved… it will create an appetite for using their energies for more good. It’s a simple concept really. Most things concerning God really are simple… but simple doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.

Practical Ideas On Redirecting Super Powers:

  • Active Kid – Add lots of music with full body motions to your time. Allow this child to lead on stage. Break your time into clear segments. Perhaps even moving around the room for different activities. Repeat expectations weekly and be consistent in enforcing them.
  • Talkative Kid – Include talk times in your program. Give this child a chance to tell others about their day. Maybe you start the class by asking kids to rate their week on a scale of 1-10 and then explain why. If you’re telling a bible story, involve this child as a narrator, or an actor to repeat lines you feed them in real-time. Be clear that there are times to be loud, and times to be quiet. Talk times are for talking, quiet times are for listening. Let the class know when it’s one or the other. This way the talkative child knows when they can let the words fly.
  • Quiet Kid – No one thinks about the quiet kids… but often times they’re disobeying as much as the loud kid… but they’re quiet so we don’t mind if they don’t participate. It’s okay to be an introvert, we’re not going to try to change their personality… but we are going to require a minimum amount of participation. You don’t have to sing, but you do need to stand. You don’t have to pray, but we do need a prayer request. Whatever it is make your expectations high… but your requirements low. That way this child feels more comfortable doing the requirement because they aren’t required to do the expected. Make sense? There are ways this child can contribute that they will be comfortable with. Maybe they draw, write, play, or like to share. Maybe talk to Mom and have their pet visit the class. This will make them the star of the show… but all the scary attention will be on the dog. So it’s all good.
  • Rambunctious Kid – You know that boy who always ends up fighting because he plays so rough? Yeah, that kid. God gave him toughness and boldness. Help him by giving him some responsibility over some younger kids. You’ll be giving him the chance to feel big… but in a giant teddy bear sort of way. He’ll soon learn that God gave him his powers to protect others rather than damage them.
  • Joker Kid – The kid who isn’t bad… they just like to make everything funny. This kid needs attention. He does. He’s a performer. Help him, like Austin’s wife did, by providing positive experiences where he can have his 15 min’s of fame, but it’s not all about him. Doing service projects is a great way. Having a reward system in place that offers badges or other rewards that are given in a public setting in front of peers and parents. Some leaders might struggle with the urge to keep this child needy rather than fulfilling because it seems self-centered. If the church doesn’t fill it positively and absolutely, the world will be more than happy to do it for us.

Do you feel unable to handle your own kids? Feeling under talented and over worked. Remember, God has given you your own set of Super Powers… ask him to reveal any secret powers and to enhance the ones you know about. And remember, he called YOU to these kids. Not because they’re easy… or because you’re perfect for the job… but because he needed your particular set of skills and your faithfulness and willingness to get the job done through you.