It Just Stacks Up!


If you are a regular reader on, you know my passion for relational ministry, a term I started using over twenty years ago before it was hip. (Download my free book on the topic.) Jesus did a lot of teaching – but first he formed relationships with those He wanted to reach. It is no different in children’s ministry. When we play with kids we create a relationship, and out of that relationship we can have a huge impact! One of the BEST tools I have discovered for connecting with kids is with Speed Stacks. I helped introduce sport stacking to the world of kids ministry years ago when I discovered what a magnet it was for drawing and engaging kids. As I promoted it on Kidology, Speed Stacks credited me with expanding the growing sport from schools to churches across the country. I even headed up the effort to introduce sport stacking as an official Awana Game. (See I even got to be their spokeman! Kids LOVE sport stacking with Speed Stacks! It is fun, easy to learn, and is probably the best sport when it comes to allowing kids of all athletic ability compete equally. Regardless …

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How Do You Teach Abstract Knowledge to Kids?


I love thinking of ways to explain things to kids that are difficult for even adults to understand. Kids are “concrete relational” – meaning, if they can’t see it, hear it, touch it, smell it, or taste it – it isn’t real. So how do we teach abstract spiritual concepts like faith? Or reconciliation? Or the difference between justification and sanctification? Some would say we shouldn’t even be teaching these lofty concepts to children, but we must! My first “boss,” was Pastor Erwin Lutzer the senior pastor at The Moody Church in Chicago. I have never forgotten the preaching advice he once gave me as a young rookie. “Karl, I like to preach in such a way that even adults can understand.” Have you ever noticed how much Jesus taught like a children’s pastor? He used people in the audience as volunteers, he used food, he did object lessons – in fact, I argue he was the first Gospel magician, only, He didn’t have to cheat! There was nothing up His sleeve when he did a miracle. One of the challenges I faced as a young minister was how to help kids understand the incredible story of Christmas, and exactly …

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No More Sinner’s Prayer in Kidmin?

Cute little girl is praying

Something makes me very sad. It is this new “trend” for children’s ministry workers and pastors in churches to not invite children to pray to receive Jesus as their Savior. I hear all kinds of reasons: they’re too young; they don’t know what they are doing; we are giving them a false sense of spiritual security; they were manipulated; they end up re-doing it later anyway; there is no sinner’s prayer anywhere in the Bible; and the most passionate objections are to asking children to invite Jesus into their heart. In truth, I agree with many of the concerns raised by those who no longer invite kids to pray to receive Christ. It gets awkward because to defend leading kids to Jesus does not equal disagreeing with those valid concerns. But I fear at times we are throwing the baby out with the bath water. When it comes to “inviting Jesus into our heart,” the Bible talks about the heart over 600 times. Romans 10:10 is one of the verses that forms the basis for both the expression of inviting Jesus into the heart, and for a sinner’s prayer, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are …

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Sharing the Gospel to Get Results


This past Sunday our church enjoyed having Barney Kinard visit as our guest speaker. Barney is known as the Kidhelper. He is a former children’s pastor, 50 year veteran children’s evangelist, and Kidology Coach. We celebrated 26 children making decisions for Christ on Sunday. Guiding children to making this life-altering decision doesn’t happen by mistake. It requires intentionality, creativity, skill and a sense of purpose. Let me share with you several observations I made on Sunday as I watched Barney “do his thing” that he has been doing for years developing presentations that create results. 1) Be Real. Barney doesn’t go into character. He is himself. He is the same person before and after the presentation. Kids need to connect with a real person if they are to make real decisions. 2) Don’t Talk Down to Children. Too often adults talk down to kids. They can do this both with their tone of voice, mannerisms or by talking to them as though they are younger or “dumber” than they really are. Expect kids to engage and understand and they will. They appreciate being honored as people, not as “just kids.” 3) Use Language Kids Understand. Barney avoids using “big words” …

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Get Results From Being Positive


Have discipline issues in your class, club or program? How do you train kids to behave? Hopefully no one will take offense at me comparing training kids to training my dog, but house training our Teddy reminded me of the power of positive reinforcement. As first time dog owners, we had to learn to house train our little puppy by trial and error. We listened to people, read articles, and even signed up for doggie training at our local Pet Smart… but the results were discouraging. Months into him joining our family, I was secretly thinking of giving him away because of being weary of cleaning up the unpleasant “gifts” he was leaving around the house. (Though, I knew that wasn’t really an option if I wanted to keep living in house!) Then we had a break through. A friend told me – give up scolding him or correcting him when he messes up. (He can’t understand you anyway.) Instead, when he does do his business outside where you want him to, CELEBRATE it to the MAX! So when he did it right, we jumped up and down, we clapped and cheered yelling “GOOD TEDDY.” Basically, the advice was go overboard …

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