Archives For Preteen Ministry

Last semester, I started reading several books by Charles Spurgeon and became captivated by one statement he made regarding children. I’ve repeated this statement so many times since reading it, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how it impacts our children’s ministry.

Maybe it was just the right words at the right time, but I’ve labeled this statement as the greatest advice for children’s ministry leaders. Charles Spurgeon says,

“Be sure, whatever you leave out, that you teach the children the three R’s, –
Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.”

This concise statement calls our focus back to the Gospel. As children’s ministry leaders, we can get lost in the busyness of curriculum, volunteers, and buckets of goldfish crackers. We fret and sweat throughout the week trying to find the perfect game or video that will keep the kids attention and put our lesson over the top. While those things are certainly important, I’ll admit that they’ve often made me miss this simple truth:

These children need the Gospel.

They are fallen, sinful creatures just like you and me. They have no means of saving themselves from the immediate and eternal consequences of sin. They need to hear of Christ and Him crucified. They need to hear how to believe in the saving work of Jesus. And they need to understand how to walk in the salvation that God has graciously provided through Christ!

Don’t get me wrong, I want them to have fun. I want them to be engaged and enjoy the lesson we’re teaching. But most importantly, I want them to walk away with a clearer picture of the three R’s—Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration. Without the Gospel, our investment is a waste of time.

Whatever you’re planning for this Sunday—stop and ask this question:

Does this lesson help kids to see the truth of the Gospel—ruin, redemption, and regeneration?

Wrestle with that question. Spend time making sure that kids are getting a clear explanation of the Gospel and a chance to respond to God. Just be sure, whatever you leave out, that you teach the children the three R’s, – Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.

This has been the greatest advice anyone has ever given to me as a Children’s Pastor.


There is one thing that every ministry has in common—volunteers. And most of us share the struggle to find more!

Our children’s ministry team has been recruiting year round and really ramped it up between May and August. We personally invited, had multiple church-wide campaigns, and shared a vision for why current volunteers should re-up in the ministry. God has really blessed us by sending 491 people to volunteer on our team! Even as I type that sentence, I’m overwhelmed by what God has done.

So, why do I feel worried, frustrated, and defeated by the handful of volunteers I still need?

Do you ever feel that way? Do you find yourself focusing on the need, the problem, or the failure? It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting those things keep our attention and steal our joy.

I was wrestling with this when God taught me a lesson through Gideon. As I tucked my daughter in bed and opened our devotional book to the day’s devotion (story of Gideon), what God was doing for the Israelites hit me like a ton of bricks.

Judges 7 tells us that as Gideon went up against the Midianites, he went with 32,000 soldiers. Who knows if that was enough, but it surely gave the Israelites a fighting chance.

But then God told Gideon to shrink the army.

God knew that a victory would lead people to boast in their own ability and their own strength. So Gideon shrunk the army. First from 32,000 to 10,000, and then the army went down to just 300 men. Gideon went up against the Midianites with less than 1% of his army! God decreased the size of the Israelite army so that He could increase their dependence on Him. God wanted them to see God’s power and boast in Him alone.

As I thought about what God did, I realized that I was looking at volunteers the wrong way. Could it be that God was decreasing our “army” so that He could increase our dependence on Him?

I quickly wrote down this prayer and I’ve been praying it since:

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.

If you have a volunteer need or some other daunting task ahead of you, are you delighting in it? I know that sounds like the craziest question ever, but listen to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [thorn in the flesh] away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In the end, God provided the victory for Gideon and the Israelites in such a way that only He could do. I’m not sure how or even if God is going to provide volunteers for our ministry, but I will continue to pray this prayer and know that He is in control.

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.


I’m in a season with very little margin. My calendar is overloaded with important things to do, and each day seems to add to the pile. I literally wrote this post while jogging on the treadmill because there’s just no other time! In this season, I find myself asking God to help me manage and help me see changes that can make me more effective for His Kingdom. Here are a few things I’m learning to do when life gets too busy:

1. Make a strategic list

I have a To-Do list have all the things that need to get done. That list is always growing. But recently, I’ve started to make strategic lists. I got some great ideas from Kenny Conley and how his team is using an idea from Bill Hybels. My strategic list contains the 3-4 things that I’m going to focus on for the next three months. I still have small tasks that need to get done, but the focus of my time and energy is just 3-4 initiatives. So far, this strategic list has helped keep my work very intentional and focused. I may be “doing less” but I’m accomplishing more.

2. Make time for time off

Once I start something, I will not walk away until it’s finished. This is the sickness that makes me stay up till 1:30 am to install a couple of under-the-counter lights. It’s also the sickness that tells me I don’t have time for time off.

In the middle of the busyness when I’m tempted to just keep plugging away until burn out, I have to intentionally schedule minutes, hours, days, even weeks to break from the work. Whether it’s a five-minute walk or a week at the beach (Hallelujah, that’s next week!), time off is necessary. It’s hard to step away from unfinished business, but I’ve realized that I’m much more effective when I return from a time off.

3. Ask for help

I don’t like to ask for help. It’s a pride thing–which is a sin thing. I like to do things my way on my timing, and I hate feeling like I’m putting someone else out by needing their help. But in the middle of this busy season, I’ve learned to ask for help.

I’ve learned that holding “To-Dos” tightly—especially in ministry—is robbing someone else from the opportunity to serve God. He may have gifted them for a task or His Spirit prompted them to act, so who am I to selfishly hold onto it. Asking for help gets others involved, and it helps me remember to focus on people not just tasks.

4. Pray More

It’s funny that I began the year asking God to build the discipline of prayer in my life, and of course He’s doing it in a way I didn’t expect. Instead of a relaxing study on prayer, I feel as though God—in His sovereignty everything—has put me in a position where I’m much more aware of my need for Him.

There are times when I look at the to-dos and I am paralyzed with worry and fear. But those moments are teaching me the power and the peace that comes from prayer. The busyness of this season is teaching me that I don’t need more time, I need more Jesus. I don’t have to stress about the things I can’t accomplish because I am able to rest in what He has already accomplished.

It’s amazing how a strategy and the right perspective can change the feelings about being busy. When I’m able to remember these lessons, I feel much more focused and energized to do what needs to be done.

I’m thankful for the lessons that God is teaching me in this busy season, and even more thankful that my relationship with Him is based on the finished work of Jesus and not my unfinished to-do list!

Confession: I don’t handle conflict well. I tend to shy away from conflict because of fear. Other times, I respond to conflict with selfish anger that only creates more conflict.

Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” God calls every follower of Jesus to be a peacemaker, but what does that look like? How do I practice peacemaking without being too passive or too aggressive?

Knowing that I don’t handle conflict well, I looked for resources to help me. I remembered a class in seminary that required me to read The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. I highly recommend this book. This book has helped me to see how the Gospel should shape my view of conflict and how I respond to moments of tension.

In his book, Sande describes what a peacemaker looks like. He says:

“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.” 1

The Peacemaker offers so much wisdom and practical advice for how to grow in peacemaking. I love how Sande points to the grace of God as the reason we should and the sole means by which we can forgive others.

We all face conflict. The question is: Are we handling conflict Biblically and beneficially? Conflict can be the perfect opportunity to glorify God and grow in your relationship with others. Here’s a link to get your copy of The Peacemaker.

1 Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, May 2007), 11.