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Keep Those Parents Away

I’ve not been in Children’s Ministry for decades, but I think I’ve finally compiled a strong list of ways to keep parents from bringing kids to church:

  1. When the nursery kids are dropped off in their classroom, firmly plant them in a high chair and leave them there to eat Cheerios for 90 minutes.
  2. Force parents to look through 5 pages of check-in papers to find their kids name and check off their name with an old Abilene Credit Union pen with the end chewed off.
  3. Make parents hang out in classrooms with their kids until the teacher arrives 10 minutes later.
  4. Have volunteers repeatedly hack, cough, dry heave, and scratch their skin incessantly while they try and help children find their classrooms.
  5. Give each elementary child at the very least their body weight in candy while they are with you.
  6. When that hurried parent trying to pick up their kids as fast as possible tells you that service is over, just tell them you’re not done yet and ask them to wait patiently for 5 more minutes.
  7. If at all possible try and send home all craft projects with white Elmer’s glue still wet and dripping in every direction.
  8. Don’t take the time to remove the VBS classroom signs from three months ago, if they’re serious about finding the class for their 3 year old they’ll come upon it eventually.
  9. Just go ahead and let that 9 year old big brother hang out with his 2 year old sister in her preschool class.
  10. Let the kids use colored sharpie markers while unsupervised.

I can guarantee you with actually certainty that all of these work. Trust me, I have first-hand experience in these matters. ;)

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Christy · December 22, 2008

    This is sooo funny! I am definitely guilty of a few of them too! Thanks for the thought-provoking laugh. I may have a couple of things to re-think!

  2. Kenny · December 22, 2008

    How about moving a nursery aged child from one room to another (during the service) without informing the parents. Then to top it all off, when the parent comes to the original room to pick up the child, insist that the child isn’t in that room with a dumb look on your face. My favorite.

  3. Cash Clan Japan · December 22, 2008

    Ooo, ooo, or how about don’t have a children’s ministry at ALL, and insist that young kids really should be handled by their mothers (never their fathers) in a separate “sound-proof” room at the back of the sanctuary, even disallowing them from brining their kids into the holy sanctuary? That’s how they do it in Japan! Keeps the young parents out very efficiently.

    (I’m pretty thankful even for crappy kids’ programs these days.)

  4. Matthews · December 23, 2008

    I love sticky glues dripping everywhere! Not! And congrats on the Fantasy Football crown. Jeff actually won his this year too for the first time. Strange!

  5. gina · March 11, 2009

    kenny, i’m with you. i love playing musical rooms with kids. keep the parents guessing… that’s my philosophy.