Lisa Cooke

One of the highest compliments I have ever received was said in a somewhat funny/sarcastic way: “You’re a Kid Magnet!” You’ve probably heard the phrase “money magnet” used to describe someone who seems to have money coming to him easily and in abundance. Likewise, a children’s minister is most effective when he or she is a Kid Magnet, someone a child is attracted to.

Jesus, in Mark 10:14, was a Kid Magnet Himself. The Message Bible reads this way:

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping He might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me”… then, gathering the children up in His arms, He laid His hands of blessing on them. The NIV reads like this: Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them…. Here are some things we can do and some things we can avoid so children are not hindered in their approach to us and ultimately to Jesus.

Kid Magnets Look “Good”

One night, I sat down beside a small boy before our children’s service was to begin. He looked at my earrings and said very honestly, “You need different earrings.” Somewhat surprised, I replied, ” I do?” He said “Yes, you need Winnie the Pooh earrings instead of those you have on.” I laughed and told him he was absolutely right. I had on adult style earrings that night, which probably looked ugly to him. He laughed when I laughed, then very seriously asked me if he could have a Bible Buck (we used these to reward correct answers) for giving me that very important piece of information. I learned a valuable lesson from him: Children are observant and are affected by how we look. Wearing Winnie the Pooh earrings for a children’s service makes me more child-friendly. I ran to Wal-Mart and bought a pair of Pooh earrings for the next service!

If your children’s department doesn’t have a dress code or matching outfits for teachers, the clothes you wear should be thought about in this same way. Is the outfit I’m wearing going to attract or repel children? Once in the church hallway I heard a little boy yell out when he was scared by a lady’s feather hat. I’ll never forget the look of fear on his face! Be careful when your personal style is more confrontational than comforting (e.g. Punk or Gothic styles) when you are ministering to children. Parents are also more likely to trust you if you are dressed in a style that is acceptable to them and their children. Clean, pressed clothes no matter what style are an absolute must, and shows that you consider this ministry time as valuable enough to give all aspects of it your best effort.

The same criteria would apply to hairdos and makeup (for the females!). Styles considered by fashion experts to be the latest trend may be way over the edge in a children’s service. I once saw a young guy come in to volunteer who had a huge, spiky mohawk. My first impression was “yikes!” It turned out that he was one of the nicest and gentlest people I have ever met, but his appearance was so scary that one would immediately assume the worst. He later cut his hair and was a real asset to the children’s ministry. If you shop at the latest popular makeup counter these days, you may have noticed that their photo ads are scary enough to make you run out of the store! This is not the effect you want to have on the children as they enter their classroom.

You want the parents and children to feel safe, and your appearance will have a major effect on their first impression. While it may seem like these suggestions are a hindrance to your freedom of personal expression, remember Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” Sacrificing your “fashion freedom” so that others won’t be hindered in coming to services is part of honoring 1 Corinthians 10:33, which says: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Having a child feel safe and comfortable in church is worth the price you may pay to wear Winnie the Pooh earrings!

Kid Magnets Smell “Good”

Your effectiveness as a Kid Magnet can be hindered by something as simple as bad breath! “No chewing gum” is often a children’s church rule and I believe teachers should follow all the rules that the children are expected to follow. However, there are other ways to keep the kids from calling you “Dragon Breath.” Body odor in general is also a repellent. I once met an awesome children’s minister who obviously loved children. But the way the person smelled made it difficult for me to want to be in the same room. Children are sensitive to odors and if you notice them avoiding you, ask a good friend “Do I stink?” Only if the lesson is on the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead would you have an excuse to smell like you’ve been in a tomb for four days.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who believe more is better when it comes to perfume. There are some mighty strange fragrances out there, and if a child is allergic or sensitive, he won’t be saving the seat next to him for you!

Kid Magnets Prepare “Good”

Good preparation for the services communicates value to the children. They get the impression that they must be important to you for you to put that much effort into a service. 1 Chronicles 29:3 says, Besides in my devotion to the temple of my God, I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple. Bring your “personal treasures” to be used as you prepare to minister to these tiny temples of the Holy Ghost (the children) such as your prayers, your time in preparation for and spent in the service, your specific talents and giftings, etc. Giving your best is a personal treasure that honors God when used for the benefit of those He loves.

Good preparation also speaks of your own sense of personal worth. I like what Richard Exley said about a story from Anthony Campolo’s book You Can Make a Difference. It is about a woman who cleaned ships for a living and this is what he was said about her. “Apparently she took pride in her work, not because it was prestigious, but because she recognized herself as a person of value. Therefore, anything she invested herself in took on proportionate worth. Instead of looking for her self esteem in her work, she imparted a sense of value to everything she did. We could conclude that she did not feel good about her work simply because it was important in and of itself. Rather, her work was important because she was doing it.”

Your preparation work is important because you are doing it. You are a person of great value with personal treasures that can be used by God for glorious purposes in those children’s classes and services. Being well-prepared reflects the value you place on God within you, God within the children, and the plan and purpose of God overall.

Kid Magnets Act “Good”

One really cute memory we have of our son Andrew is something he said as we were leaving for church one Sunday. He asked “Will my teachers be glad to see me?” Obviously it meant a great deal to him for his teachers to like him. Because Andrew had many teachers who made him feel welcome, his early church experiences were very positive. A Kid Magnet will project an “I’m so glad to see you” attitude. Take the time and effort to let the children know how happy you are to be with them. Acting “good” is something Christians are supposed to be known for, and no-where is it more important than when you are ministering to children. Your attitude, behavior, what you say and how you say it should all express the love of God that has been shed abroad in your heart. Brother Lawrence once said “For God does not regard the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” The Bible says you can give your body to be burned (which is a greater sacrifice than getting up early on Sunday mornings!), but if it is done without love, there is no profit!

Patience is one fruit of the Spirit that is heavily required for working with children. They seem to be wired to test boundaries, and some even seem to enjoy upsetting “the authority.” Every rule that has ever been established becomes the object for their challenge. Consistent discipline is an important component of every effective children’s program, but how discipline is administered will affect the success of reaching these children for Christ. A Kid Magnet will endeavor to discipline in a fair and patient manner, making repentance easy for the child. A harsh disciplinarian alienates the disciplined, making the goal of building relationships unattainable. A Kid Magnet who acts “good” will be mindful of the love walk Jesus demonstrated as He built relationships with those around Him.

The Reward of being a Kid Magnet

Being a co-laborer with Christ in reaping the harvest of souls is one of the joys of being a Christian. Research by George Barna indicates that there is a 32% probability that a person will receive Christ between the ages of 5 and 13, which gives ministry to children incredible importance. Jesus said in Matthew 10:42, “And if, as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, you will surely be rewarded.” (Living Bible) A Kid Magnet is someone who is committed to living their life in such a way that God can use them to reach His “little ones.”

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13