Someone posted in the Kidology.org Forums about a really tough first Sunday as kids pastor with discipline in their first Sunday’s Kids Church. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I wanted to blog my answer here, and encourage others to jump on over and share their words of advice and encouragement as well:
I just accepted a children’s pastorate at a good sized church. Today was the first Sunday. I have lots of cm experience and have never had discipline issues with kids. These kids walked in and read to tear the person leading limb by limb. I didn’t know the names so I could call their names (even though we made name tag), and I was fully prepared. I am going to find a smaller venue to hold kid’s church. Seems that the larger room (gym) kids just want to run loose. I asked what they really liked to do in kid’s church for future planning and they said playing games in the back (foosball, etc) They are only in kids church maybe 30 min. It was a rough first Sunday. Any feedback?
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Sounds like you need help, get helpers so you aren’t correcting kids from the front, that is a joy-killer and makes the tone negative. You need to the positive one, and get others to do the correcting. And I can’t encourage you enough to start a kids krew (My K.C. Krew) turn those trouble makers into your helpers! When kids are involved, they can’t criticize. Of course, its not overnight, but it makes a huge difference. Even if you have to cancel children’s church while you get ready, so they sit in “Big Church” for awhile to realize it is a privilege to be there.
If things are really bad, you may need to establish control quickly with some clear rules –
1) Stay in Your Seat.
2) Raise Hands to Speak.
3) Follow Directions.
4) Have FUN!
(Let them know #4 can only happen when 1-3 are being followed.) Then you have a three warning system per child, and after three warnings, they get a week out of kids church. You’ll gain control really fast when they aren’t allowed in Kids Church. You have to gently, kindly, soft voice but with tough love just say, “I’m not sure how things were before, but this is how I’m doing things now. I won’t have that.”
A verse I will share with you that you CANT share with a parent (!!!!) is Jesus said not to toss pearls before swine. What they meant was you can’t let the rest of the kids suffer because of a few. You love those few, but it is OK to get rid of them for the sake of the rest. They will be back, and they will start to respect you. I have stepped into really bad situations and instituted control and rules and within 6 weeks I had order and obedience because while I had creative and fun teaching – that is not enough. The kids have to know I will not tolerate disorder and craziness. (Unless it is under my direction, of course!)
You are NEVER mean, you don’t raise your voice, your face is always kind and your voice loving and soft, but you simply have rules, and they are enforced, with grace and understanding, but you are not walked on by kids. Period. They are not used to that. I’ve had inner city project kids who will obey me at church, who would not obey at home or school, and their parents are baffled. They ask, “I don’t get it, why do they obey you and not me?” And my simple (gentle) answer is, “Well, its because I expect it.”
So, my answer is (so much for short) you need help, and you need to set standards, and you need to enforce them, and within 6-8 weeks you can have control of a classroom. But you can’t do it alone. AND at the same time, the quality of the program must be improving, but they must be happening at the same time.
Please get the Kids Church Cookbook, even if I must give it to you, it has the answers and tools you need for success!
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