Keeping Your Children's Ministry on Mission: Practical Strategies for Discipling the Next Generation

By Jared Kennedy

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Practical Strategies for Gospel-Centered Children’s Ministry

When building a children’s ministry at a church, there is so much to consider: Which curriculum should we use? How many volunteers do we need? How do we keep parents in the loop? And that’s before we run into stalled check-in computers, missing activity sheets, and floors that need to be vacuumed. While all of the tasks of children’s ministry are important, leaders can get easily distracted with the everyday work of doing ministry and lose sight of the main focus—the gospel.

Writing from personal ministry experience, Jared Kennedy shares a four-fold approach for gospel-centered, missional children’s ministry: hospitality, teaching, discipleship, and mission. This practical resource covers a variety of topics ranging from creating child protection policies to putting together lesson plans to catechism, helpful for children’s ministers and volunteers alike as they disciple children with the powerful message of the gospel.

Published in partnership with the Gospel Coalition.


Author:

Jared Kennedy

Jared Kennedy (ThM, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as an editor at the Gospel Coalition. He is also co-founder of Gospel-Centered Family, a ministry that helps parents and church leaders share Jesus with the next generation, and the author of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible. Jared lives with his wife, Megan, and three daughters in Louisville, Kentucky, where they attend Sojourn Church Midtown.

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Children & Youth
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 240
Size: 5.25 in x 8.0 in
Weight: 7.0 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-7687-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7687-4
ISBN-UPC: 9781433576874
Case Quantity: 10
Published: March 08, 2022

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part 1: A Gospel-Centered Vision for Children’s Ministry
Chapter 1: “Stop! Believe! Christ Sent Me.”
Our Both-And Mission to the Next Generation
Chapter 2: Knowing What We Shouldn’t Do
Warnings from the History of Family Ministry
Reflection on Part 1

Part 2: Create Welcoming Environments
Chapter 3: Meeting Jesus at the Front Door
Welcoming and Including Kids and Families
Chapter 4: Safety and Security in a Corrupted World
Our Responsibility to Protect Kids from Abuse
Reflection on Part 2

Part 3: Connect Kids to Christ
Chapter 5: Three Ways to Tell a Bible Story
The Priority of Gospel-Centered Teaching
Chapter 6: The Proud King’s Nightmare
Putting Gospel-Centered Interpretation into Practice
Chapter 7: Hands-on, Real-life, Engaging Discovery
Teaching with Excellence
Reflection on Part 3

Part 4: Grow with Kids and Families
Chapter 8: Step by Step, Stage by Stage
Helping Kids Embrace the Gospel as They Grow
Chapter 9: Catechizing the YouTube Generation
An Ancient Path toward a Gospel-Formed Life
Reflection on Part 4

Part 5: Go! Send Kids and Families on Mission
Chapter 10: Graceless Parents, Overly Spiritual Ministry, and Sticky Notes
Empowering Families with a Gospel-Fueled Witness
Reflection on Part 5

Conclusion: Courage for the Harvest
Acknowledgments
Notes
General Index
Scripture Index

Endorsements

“For years, when students have asked me, ‘What’s the one children’s ministry book that I should read first?’ I couldn’t recommend just one. Instead, I recommended three: one about organization, one about teaching, and one about keeping children safe. Now I can recommend just one to read first because Jared Kennedy has managed to fit all of those essential elements into a single book!”
Timothy Paul Jones, C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Family Ministry Field Guide

Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission delivers as advertised. Kennedy rightly knows that the gospel is the only means by which we will have a lasting impact on the next generation. To this thesis Kennedy adds a wealth of practical help and instruction to guide your ministry. Every senior pastor and children’s ministry director should read this book and get it into the hands of all their teachers, helpers, and parents.”
Marty Machowski, family pastor; author, Build on Jesus, The Ology, and WonderFull

“I can’t think of a ministry in the church more complex than children’s ministry, and I can’t think of a better guide through that complexity than Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission. Whether you’ve worked with kids for days or years, you’ll find this book comprehensive (from abuse policies to age-graded teaching), balanced (holding onto what’s biblically ideal and practically realistic), and immediately helpful. Jared has packed more than a decade of experience and breadth of perspective into ten short chapters. It’s like having your own children’s ministry consultant only a shelf away.”
Champ Thornton, Associate Pastor, Ogletown Baptist Church; author, The Radical Book for Kids and Wonders of His Love: Finding Jesus in Isaiah

“Are you passionate for kids to embrace the good news about Jesus and follow him throughout life? In this outstanding resource, Jared Kennedy offers us an essential biblical vision and engaging strategic plan to pursue Christ-exalting child and youth discipleship at church and home.”
Barbara Reaoch, Former Director of the Children’s Division, Bible Study Fellowship International; author, A Better Than Anything Christmas

“What truly happens when the gospel shapes our goals for children’s ministry? Jared Kennedy knows. As a studied pastor-practitioner, Jared understands how to help leaders and churches connect the gospel to the nuts and bolts—policy-making, recruiting, training, protecting, and reproducing—of children’s ministry. If that’s your mission, you have your manual!”
Dave Harvey, President, Great Commission Collective; author, I Still Do

“In Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission, Jared Kennedy provides a richly theological, accessible, and practical resource that is not only instructional but intriguing to read. This book written by an experienced family pastor is a sure guide for churches equipping servant leaders to make disciples for the next generation.”
Jamaal Williams, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Church Midtown; President, Harbor Network

“Many Christians groan about the future of the church instead of realizing the future is in their children’s ministries. Kennedy not only reminds us about how foundational children’s ministries can be in building God’s Kingdom, but he also provides a practical guide for everything from how to keep children safe to how to teach gospel-centered lessons. Churches that follow his counsel will not only thrive now as families are strengthened, but will also invest in their own future.”
Brian J. Arnold, President, Phoenix Seminary

“Reading Jared Kennedy’s Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission took me back to all the Sundays I’ve spent on my hands and knees in the nursery, passing out snacks in children’s church, or teaching kids to sing God’s praises. As theologically rich as it is practical, Kennedy guides us from the early church fathers through the roots of the Sunday school movement to contemporary protocols that safeguard the most vulnerable among us. Along the way, he casts a vision for children’s ministry that welcomes children to their Savior and helps them find their place in God’s family. As both a mother and a children’s ministry worker for almost three decades, I heartily recommend it.”
Hannah Anderson, author; Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul and Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit

“Jared has labored in the trenches of children’s ministry for years. You can tell by the wisdom that’s dripping off of every page. If you work with children, do yourself a favor and read Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission from cover to cover. You’ll be encouraged, challenged, and reoriented around the gospel of God’s marvelous grace.”
Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church; coauthor, Build on Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide to Gospel-Based Children’s Ministry

“What a treasure this book is! It’s jam-packed with biblical wisdom and relies richly on church history, which makes it a deeply edifying read for anyone concerned with the nurture of the next generation for Christ. It is immensely practical, with helpful illustrations to illuminate how the theory translates practically into ministry among children and families. It’s clear that Jared is a seasoned practitioner with the critical ability to think theologically about ministry methodology. That’s exactly the kind of person I want to train others for ministry and why I’ll be recommending this book to all those striving to develop and direct Christ-centered, robust children’s ministries.”
Melanie Lacy, Executive Director, Growing Young Disciples