Do you remember the day your Sunday School teacher told the class to stand in a circle and join hands with the person next to you? I knew that prayer time was coming, but what I didn’t understand was why we had to hold hands. As a boy, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to hold hands with the person next to me. She was a girl, and girls have germs-especially the ones at church. Even worse was the horrible fact that I would have to hold hands with another boy. So for me, prayer time during my Sunday School class was the most dreaded portion of the session.
You will be pleased to know that I have managed to overcome the thought of holding hands, but I still remember the experience. And that experience has changed the way I lead preschoolers and children at church, especially the boys.
Just in case you were wondering, boys and girls are created differently. Have you ever wondered, “What are the boys thinking?” I am convinced that if we could make that question a personal practice in our churches, we would quickly see the need to make major changes in the way boys are being ministered to.
Are boys welcomed at your church? In order for boys to feel welcome at your church, a few thing must happen in your classes and meeting rooms. Ask yourself the following questions.
Can they move? In order for a boy to learn, he has to move. Movement helps him process information. In many churches, boys and girls are asked to sit in chairs at a table for long periods of time. (Understand that 5-10 minutes can be a long time for a child.) The average attention span is one minute per age of the child, which means that a 7-year-old should be expected to sit still for seven minutes. Movement must be allowed and planned for during the session in order for boys to learn.
Is it fun? Why can’t learning life-changing stories from the Bible that teach about a Holy God be fun? It can be, and it should be. The problem is that we often aren’t willing to go the extra mile to make it fun. The Bible is filled with stories boys crave. Be willing to go the extra mile and make the learning fun. If learning is fun, the boys will come back week after week.
Is there adventure? We need to realize that adventure is a basic need for the male learner. The Bible is filled with stories of amazing adventure. Share them with the boys at your church.
Is nature involved? Encourage teachers and leaders to “Bring the outside in.” Use natural items from outside to teach. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have written the daily memory verse on leaves, fruit, large nuts, sea shells or rock. Boys love the outdoors, so find ways to bring it inside to them.
Are you training male teachers and leaders? I can’t begin to tell you how critical this is. Men need to be present in each classroom where preschoolers or children are learning. This provides a positive role model and gives an example for what a mature Christian should be. Boys need to see this example at your church.
Men want to know what is expected of them, so be willing to tell them up front that, “in order to be a teacher or leader in this ministry, you must do the following . . .” By using this approach you have already given a challenge to all of your leaders that teaching preschoolers and children is not easy. Many times we make the mistake of leading our volunteers to think that service is easy. It’s not! Tell men the expectations up front, and they will begin to see the challenge before them. Men love a challenge.
Are you being a positive role model for boys? As a pastor or minister, you are in a critical role of leadership. Use it for God’s glory. In 1 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NKJV), Paul writes, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” Are you living your life as a church leader that would make a boy think about imitating you or being like you? That is the true test of leadership.
Just in case you were wondering-most preschool and children’s ministries are becoming a female-dominated society. Don’t get mad and start sending me e-mails or making phone calls. I am just stating the facts. It is getting more and more difficult to find male leadership in the church. This is dangerous and must be changed. If change doesn’t happen, we are going to lose an entire generation of boys.
Focus your attention on the need in your church’s preschool and children’s ministry. Make sure the needs of boys are being considered. Also make sure that men are given the chance to serve and are being challenged and equipped. This could be the thing that takes your church from good to great.

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