Following Jesus with Young Children - Dr. Mimi Larson

An event for children’s ministry leaders and volunteers, every church member, and every adult who cares about young children.

How will the children in your church know that Jesus loves them? Will they know that Jesus sees them as valuable - or even as leaders?

The first years of our lives establish a critical foundation for the rest of our lives.

There’s lots of well-meaning advice about how to give our children the best start to know God, but what do the experts say?

If you want to understand how the best research can guide us to practical approaches for loving our children well, then this event is for you.

Please listen in to this deep-dive interview with Dr. Mimi Larson, the Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Children at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

For your convenience, here are some of the practical tips that Mimi shared with us:

  • Use a “prayground” - a carpeted area up front where young children can play during worship services. This allows children to be present and learn by observing.
  • Create “worship bags” with interactive items related to worship rather than just “busy bags” to keep kids quiet. This engages them in the service.
  • Pastors and leaders should try to know children’s names, talk to them, and get on their level. This makes them feel valued.
  • Publicly thank children for the ways they serve and contribute, even in small acts like sharing candy. Raise them up as fellow members.
  • Supplement curriculum with comparison questions, evaluation questions, and ideas for application. Ask questions that get kids evaluating, analyzing, and creating, not just remembering facts.
  • Allow space for children to wonder, ask questions, and even disagree or be frustrated.
  • Incorporate diverse faces and perspectives into lesson materials so all children feel represented.
  • Listen to and learn from the perspectives of children.
  • Find ways for children to actively contribute their gifts and talents, not just passively receive ministry.

Helpful links:
Dr. Mimi Larson -

Bridging Theory and Practice in Children’s Spirituality: New Directions for Education, Ministry, and Discipleship -

God’s Very Good Idea Storybook -

The Celebration Place: God’s Plan for a Delightfully Diverse Church -

Spiritual Practices to Help Kids Reflect on Justice -


“Following Jesus with Young Children” was a great presentation. It opened my eyes to see just how important our youth are to the future of the Church. If we want our youth to stay in the Church, we must give them a say in the Church. We must include them in worship, so that they don’t jump ship! All people want to feel included; this includes our youth. Allow our youth to stay during worship. Let us all wordship together and together we shall stay!