Category Archives: Missional Children’s Ministry


Have you heard of this amazing 8 year old?

“Gandhi was one person. Martin Luther King was one person. Mother Theresa was one person. Why can’t you be one person?”

Vivienne Harr, an 8 year old girl in Fairfax, CA saw a picture of two boys who are victims of modern-day slavery carrying huge slabs of rock on their backs. She decided that she wanted to raise enough money to free 500 kids from slavery. With the help of her family, she set up a lemonade stand in May of 2012 to accomplish this. She has made lemonade and shown up to sell it everyday since then. So far, she’s raised $20,000! She has inspired people all over the world to join her efforts and is even collaborating to come out with her very own brand of lemonade of which all profits will go to Not For Sale.

What are we doing in our children’s ministries to inspire children like this? Is it even important to do so? How do we go beyond inspiration to empowerment?


The King Jesus Story for Kids

This past Fall, Scot McKnight‘s book The King Jesus Gospel came out. In a nutshell, the premise of the book is to reframe “The Gospel” as something more than just personal salvation. It’s a story about Jesus and his mission to establish his kingdom here. I haven’t read the book yet, but Ben Irwin did. After reading the book, he decided to reframe the gospel story that Scot tells in The King Jesus Gospel in a way that kids would understand.

What follows is what Ben came up with. I think it’s pretty good and needs to be edited, illustrated and put into a picture book for kids to read.

The King Jesus story

It all began with God.

God made everything you can see.
(And even some things you can’t see!)

God made the world to be his home.
Then God made the very first people
so he could share his home with them.

God gave them a beautiful garden to live in.
He gave them a job to do:
take care of God’s good world;
rule it well on his behalf.
But they didn’t.

They didn’t like doing things God’s way
and not theirs.
So they took what wasn’t theirs,
and tried to rule the world their own way.
They tried to be God.

So the very first people
had to leave the garden.
They had to leave God’s presence.

Without God,
they began to die.
But God never gave up on his people.
He still loved them.
He promised to fix the world
so he could share it with them again.

But it wouldn’t be easy.
Everyone who’s ever lived,
from the very first people
all the way to you and me,
have gone the same way.

We’ve all taken what isn’t ours.
We’ve all tried to do things our way.
We’ve all tried to be little gods.
Things kept getting worse.
But God had a plan.

God chose a man named Abraham.
He gave Abraham children,
and grandchildren,
and great-grandchildren.
God turned Abraham into a great nation
and called it “Israel.”

God made Israel his chosen people.
They would help him fix the world.

God went with Israel
everywhere they went.
When they were slaves in another country,
God remembered them.
When they were treated badly,
God rescued them.

God gave Israel a home.
He gave them a job to do:
show the world what it’s like
to be God’s people.

God gave Israel priests
to teach them how to love God.
He gave them laws
to teach them how to love each other.

God told his people,
“If you follow me,
you’ll have a good life.
You’ll get to help me fix the world.”
But Israel didn’t listen.

God’s people didn’t want God
telling them how to live.
They wanted to do things their way,
just like the very first people — just like all of us.

God’s people didn’t want God
to be their king.
They wanted a king of their own,
a person just like them.

So God gave Israel a king.
Then another king.
And another.
Some were good. Some were bad.

Mostly, the kings did whatever they wanted.
They took what wasn’t theirs.
They ruled Israel for themselves, not God.
They tried to be little gods.

So God sent prophets
to tell the kings and their people
that there is only one true King;
there is only one true God.

But the kings and their people wouldn’t listen.
So they had to leave their home.
Other nations came and conquered Israel
and carried God’s people off by force.

Israel lost everything.
Then there was silence.
Years went by.
No one heard from God anymore.

Until . . .
something new happened.
God sent someone:
a person just like us, yet different.
Someone who could rule the world
the way God wanted.

God sent Jesus,
his chosen one,
to rescue Israel
and fix the world.

Jesus did good wherever he went.
He healed the sick.
He fed the hungry.
He rescued people from all sorts of problems.

Jesus did everything God wanted,
but it wasn’t what God’s people wanted.

They didn’t want Jesus to be their king.
They didn’t want the kind of kingdom he would bring.

So one day, some powerful people decided
they’d better put a stop to Jesus
before he took their power away.

So they arrested Jesus.
They stripped him naked.
They nailed him to a cross
and watched him die.

Jesus didn’t fight back.
He didn’t raise a sword;
he didn’t even raise a finger.

And so the powerful people
thought they had won.
They thought they had beaten
God’s chosen one.

But there was something they didn’t understand.
They didn’t know that Jesus died
not because he had to,
but because he chose to.

They didn’t know that they,
like all of us, deserved to die
for all the times we’ve gone our way
and ruined God’s good world.

They didn’t know a servant’s death
was the only way to live.
They didn’t know a servant’s cross
was the only crown worth having.

The one true King had come
and given his life for the world.
But they didn’t even know.
No one did.

But then God —
the one who made the world,
rescued Israel,
and sent Jesus —
raised him from the dead.

Lots of people saw him alive
before he went back to God.

But Jesus didn’t just rise from the dead.
He defeated death,
so it wouldn’t have power over us any longer.

God gave us the King we needed,
a King who loves, forgives,
and changes everyone who comes to him.

This King gave us a job to do:
love each other with all we’ve got.
Because that’s how we show others
what it’s like to be loved by God.

That’s how we show others
what kind of King we serve.
For now, the world is still broken,
still waiting to be fixed.
But someday, our King is coming back
to rescue us and share his home with us again.

Never again
will anyone take what isn’t theirs.
Never again
will anyone ruin God’s good world.

God will live with us,
and we will rule the world for him.

Walk 4 Water

This past Saturday, Menlo Park Presbyterian Children’s Ministry held an even called Walk 4 Water. For the summer, we wanted the children to raise money towards a specific missions project. We chose to partner with World Vision to build a well in Ethiopia, which would amount to $2,600 over June and July. In addition to Sunday mornings, we had those kids who were a part of our Zapped Day Camp and Creative Kids Camp also give towards the well project.

The Walk 4 Water event was meant to help kids and families experience a little of what it might be like to walk some distance to retrieve water and bring it back. We also wanted to create some intentional conversation around the issue of those who don’t have access to clean water in the world. Families walked half a mile to a home of someone from the church carrying buckets. They filled up their buckets and returned to the church where they weighed their buckets comparing their weights to the 44 pounds most women carry on average.

We weren’t sure how many people would participate. At the end of the day, there were 190 parents and kids who walked! There were even some people from the neighborhood who saw what we were doing and joined in! We raised over $1400 that day!

Take a look at the video of some highlights from Walk 4 Water. (Just FYI, as of our final count we’ve collected just over $4800 from the kids! That’s almost 2 wells!)

Missions vs. Mission

(picture taken from

I’ve been struggling for the past couple of years about how to make missions more than just an aside in the life of the kids I minister to. This past Saturday, I posted up some thoughts about teaching kids about missions vs. helping them to live out mission on Twitter. Here they are:

  • What would it look like to move beyond teaching children about missions to helping children live out mission?
  • Teaching missions compartmentalizes faith and action, whereas living out mission gives rise to an holistic view of faith and action.
  • Teaching missions is about bringing beauty and light “over there.” Living mission is about seeing beauty and light everywhere and revealing it.
  • When we teach about missions, it becomes something only some do. When we live out mission, it’s something we are all a part of.
  • Missions is something “extra” or “added” or “separate” from what we teach kids weekly. Mission is part of our lives locally and globally.

I’m all for missions, I just think we need a better perspective.

What are your thoughts? Do you teach missions to your kids? How do you do it? Do you tie missions into mission? Am I making a mountain of a mole hill?

Missional Children’s Ministry | A Brief Definition

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Victor Bezrukov)

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve been trying to articulate what missional children’s ministry is and what it looks like. A few weeks ago, I had a couple of posts about entitlement in relation to mission and the importance of remembering Jesus needs to be the main character of our life stories and promised to outline my thoughts on what children’s ministry with a missional mindset looks like. This post is missional children’s ministry in a nutshell as I see it. Over the next seven posts, I will expand on each of the points in this overview. (If you want a brief preview to my thoughts, check out my contribution to the Kidmin 360 Future of Children’s Ministry project.) I invite you to contribute your thoughts and join in on the conversation. There are many of us trying to figure all of this out, and it is my hope that this will evolve into something that helps bring a bit of clarity, direction and substance to those of us trying to discover what missional children’s ministry looks like.

Missional children’s ministries exist to help families and children know God’s Story as revealed by his Word and actively become a part of that Story.

In order for this to happen, missional children’s ministries want families and children to:

  • Discover who God is,
  • Experience his love for them,
  • Live the way God wants them to, and
  • Bring God’s Kingdom to their world.

What are your thoughts about these initial ideas? How would you begin to define each of the points?

This post is part of a larger series outlining what children’s ministry looks like from a missional mindset. Check out the other posts in this series:
Missional Children’s Ministry | A Brief Definition
Missional Children’s Ministry | Knowing God’s Story
Missional Children’s Ministry | Becoming a Part of God’s Story
Missional Children’s Ministry | Discover Who God Is
Missional Children’s Ministry | Experience God’s Love
Missional Children’s Ministry | Live God’s Way
Missional Children’s MInistry | Bring God’s Kingdom to This World
Missional Children’s Ministry | What Does This Look Like?