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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.