How should church leaders and ministry volunteers interact with misbehaving children and questioning parents? You’re not helping anyone if you don’t address the issues, but there are wiser ways to do so.
I’ve often thought that one of the most common lies in a church is when parents pick up their children from ministry programming.
“So, how did little Johnny do?”
“Oh, Johnny? He’s great. Really sweet. Yeah, sweet Johnny.”
Lies. Lies. Lies.
Sometimes, Johnny is bad. Sometimes, the adult leader wants to say so, but they fear commenting and upsetting a parent, which could strain a relationship or cause them to leave the church.
But if Johnny is bad and making the ministry environment difficult for all other kids, those parents need to know. So, how does that happen positively?
You could do all the right things; still, someone can become infuriated.
- Neglecting it isn’t helping the child or the class.
- Showing frustration isn’t helping either.
Ensure you have clear rules and equip your leaders with simple steps once those rules are broken.
Family Ministry Rules
Here are some simple principles if you want to stay positive in your rules and consistent among all ages. You can use the same rules for expected behavior in all next-generation environments (preschool, kids, students).
- Respect God – We honor God when we come together by showing respect to all things related to Him (worship, Word, etc.).
- Respect Leaders – We respect the leaders by listening to and following their instructions (gathering, activities, campus, etc.).
- Respect Others – We value others my age by refusing to bully, gossip, or distract.
If any age child does not follow these simple rules, we have three steps to address the situation.
- Remind – Remind the young individual of the rules discreetly yet clearly. Do not embarrass the individual in front of others (attention might be what the individual seeks).
- Remove – If the situation escalates, quietly ask the child/student to talk with you away from the group. Don’t address them in front of the others.
- Request – If the child/student continues to be a disruption for all, you will request the parent to advise you on handling such a situation, or you can request that the parent join you weekly until the attitude has changed. If you neglect to share it with the parents, you aren’t helping anyone in your class (always ask –would I want to know this was happening if this was my child?).