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The Real Horror Story of Early Childhood

I’ve seen the real horror of Early Childhood and Nursery ministry. ¬†It’s NOT the one person in a room of 20 kids under 18 months old all by themselves. ¬†It’s NOT the parent that insist that we not call her out of service when her kid throws chairs across the classroom. ¬†It’s NOT even the kid that comes to church and prays for Jesus to protect them from the crocodiles (whatever that means…)

What s the worst thing you ve ever seen happen, that you can laugh about now?

I’ve found that the real Horror Story happens when classroom leaders fail to teach up or down to the level of learning of their kids. ¬†It’s a horrible tragedy when leaders of 4 year olds treat their class like 14 year olds and grow exasperated when they won’t sit down for her lecture. ¬†It’s a tragedy when the 2 year old leader doesn’t take the time to illustrate biblical truths to her kids in an environment ripe for learning.

I’ve just about seen it all, but these above ¬†scenarios ¬†are what keep me up at night. ¬†When these things happen the kids don’t absorb the truth of God’s Word like they are created to, and those leaders grow frustrated and anxious about the job they are failing at. ¬†It’s time that us in the leadership of our churches begin to train, teach and lead in a way that sets everyone up for success.

1. First, we’ve got to set realistic expectations. ¬†Don’t every place a leader in a room with an age of kids, without first explaining what that age of kid can and cannot do. ¬†Not doing this is like throwing someone the keys to your stick shift car and expecting them to know how to drive without having every driven a stick shirt before.

2. Second, you’ve got to give your leaders the information. ¬†Tell them what’s the what about the age of kids they have.

3. ¬†Third, and finally; you’ve got to define the win for your Early Childhood leaders. ¬†There may be no easier win in your entire Children’s Ministry, but also be the hardest to define. ¬†Tell your leaders how they know they’ve done the 4 year old class right.

Proverbs 2:6   For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding


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. Jonathan · January 30, 2012

    Jonathan, Great points and use of scripture!   In the excitement of getting a volunteer we often times forget about setting guidelines and expectations, in doing so we often set that volunteer up for failure.   Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child . Training involves discipline and age appropriate activities.   It s not about how the adult learns it s about how the child learns.   As we learn in Colossians 1: 28-29, it s all about Jesus that we proclaim.   Teaching wisdom and truth., if that is done you can t fail!
    How do you handle those that just don t seem to get it?   The parent that just knows they are the best teacher in the world but has an out of control classroom?   Do you have a system of checks and balances?   How do you monitor the progress in the classroom?

  2. Jill Crew · January 30, 2012

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post.  I appreciate as an early childhood director that you wrote about the potential of our youngest children.  Thanks for valuing this age group!

    • Jonathan Cliff · February 3, 2012

      Thanks for the comment and for the Twitter sharing. This is something really important to me as well, and I’ve always felt may be the most important part of what we do in the Kidmin world!