okay y’all in just a little over a week i will be hanging in one of my favorite cities with my favorite group of people, kidmin leaders. i am super excited to be bak and a part of the etch conference this year.

here’s the breakouts and times i will be teaching. i would love to connect with you. comment below and let me know i you are coming.

The Preteen Bubble
They really don’t fit in the kids ministry, but are far from finding their place in student ministry. Preteens/tweens teeter on the bubble of in-between which requires specific ministry to meet them right where they are. Together we will discuss this group’s special needs and creative ways to not only equip them with faith, but to creatively engage them to grapple with truth during this special time. You’ll leave not only with info, but ideas to immediately apply back home.

Gospel-Centered Family Experiences 
From family worship to outside-the-building family experiences, we will explore creative ideas for being intentional about partnering with parents to help make the Gospel the center of the family and church. We won’t just sit, but we will experience some of these ideas that you can easily apply back in your church setting.

A Discipleship Strategy for Kids and Families
Patterned after a university 101, 201, and 301 class series we will discover a strategy to offer classes where kids can seek Jesus (Gospel class), give them a strong foundation after receiving the Savior (new Christian class) and then study God’s Word for themselves. Not only will these classes impact kid’s lives, but with parent involvement they will build a bridge between church and home.

what an honor to sit down with the talented church peters and talk kids being the church of today. i love the podcasts lifeway kids provides!

here is the details of my podcast and the link to find it.

click here for the podcast.

Danielle Bell, Minister to Children at Dawson Family of Faith, joins the podcast to discuss ways to intentionally create a culture where kids actively participate, serve, and engage in the church as soon as they are believers.

[box] i taught this workshop as a breakout session at the ETCH ministry conference in nashville, tn. below are my notes for “partnering with parents to point kids to Christ.”[/box]

same team/same goal

  •  same team same goal JESUS –  sometimes it may feel like you are moving in opposite directions but as believers, we should all have the same goal – JESUS!
  • it is not an us and them, it is a we.
  • get key parents involved early with your mission – new in a ministry position or need to make changes? gather a team of parents that make up all areas of your ministry and pray, dream, and plan with them. they will be your best resource for promoting information about changes, new programs, or losing programs/events. 


know your role

  • family is the primary place of faith training.
  • deuteronomy 6:4-8 “ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
  • families look different – more and more single parents and grandparents are raising and bringing kids to church.  your ministry may also be made up of adoptive or foster parents. is your language and approach reflecting this?
  • be prepared if a ball is dropped – not all kids have the support of parents and a family that will lead them to Christ. ask God to open your eyes to see their needs.
  • who can you use as pinch hitters to take place of absent parents? – recruit a team of mature believers to be ready to invest in the lives of kids that don’t have a godly mentor. 

equip the team

  • supply parents with the tools they need to play their part.
  • stay current with issues they are facing – research and be prepared to give parents the resources, scriptures, and action steps they need to parent through crisis and worldly influences.
  • how are you equipping parents to lead their kids to Christ? – recently i was invited to an adult sunday school class for a q & a about how to lead a child to Christ. this 20 minute time period allowed me to speak to many parents to help them be prepared to walk their child through receiving Christ as Savior and Lord. i am already thinking how i can multiply this time and reach even more parents.
  • educate – make sure parents know what their kids are learning so they can continue the conversation at home. supply them with practical tools to discuss and apply these truths outside the church walls.


  • rule of 7  – the old rule of marketing is that people need to see or read a message seven times before they really receive it. how often are you sharing a message you need parents to really hear?
  • #kidmintrenchtalk – just when you think you are getting on their nerves they are just getting the message.
  • communication ideas – schedule constant contact or mailchimp emails to go out weekly with follow-up information, questions and ideas. use the free remind app to text parents follow-up information or details about an upcoming program or event. one of my favorite ways to communicate is via my personal or dawson kids blog. on this blog, we can share vision, theme, and a more detailed description of what children experienced.  


chances are you won’t hit a hole in one, or if you are like me, even hit the ball the first time you head out to the golf course. just like we need practice in sports, parents need practice being the faith leaders of their family. we can partner with them to make this a possibility.

  • make them a part of your classes (Gospel class) or new Christian class. i blog about our Gospel class here, but the more parents can be a part of faith conversations, the more confident they will be when it is time to lead their child to Christ. 
  • family worship times are a great time for families to experience faith activities and discussions together while being led by leadership. i have many of our family worship times posted on this blog. blackout vine family worship
  • these times do not have to be elaborate. you can simply make conversation boxes for early arrival activities or take home crafts to continue the conversation. here is a download of some Gospel-centered questions you can use. Gospel questions   
  • this year we gave kids highlighters and we are encouraging parents and grandparents to highlight their favorite verse in their child’s Bible with a note beside it. 


cheer them on/support each other

  • Christ-centered parenting is tough, parents need our encouragement and support.
  • as a dawson kids staff we have started to divide up investors and families to contact with them weekly. we find out how we can pray or minister to them. we pray as a dk staff and then follow up with a card.  this has helped us move from surface to meaningful conversations in the hallway. it also helps us find families that are slipping through the cracks.
  • sometimes parents simply need the reminder that they have the same Holy Spirit living in them (if they are a Christ follower) that we do as ministry leaders. they can seek and trust the Spirit’s leadership.


respect (calendar) 

  • respect their time.
  • make the most of the time you have. plan as many things as you can when they are already at church.
  • plan with eternity in mind, not just another fun event.
  • quality over quantity – i often say the longer i am in ministry the less that i put on the calendar. i want parents to know and trust that each event and program i plan is purposeful and worth attending.
  • team up with other ministries – this can help cut done on different events and pulling the family is opposite directions.
  • don’t plan meetings that could be emails. don’t we all hate this?
  • bullet points – my dear friends had to teach me this the hard way. they said i was too wordy in communication and they didn’t have time to read it. they constantly told me to use bullet points and i am still trying to practice this. 🙂

finish strong 

hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

  • don’t quit – i often joke that kids have never made me want to quit my job, but parents have. let’s all remain committed to the call of God on our lives and the privilege it is to partner with parents.
  • ministry and partnering with parents is a marathon, not a sprint. one day at a time and one idea or change at a time.
  • families and many generations to come could be changed forever.

[box type=”warning”] dWELL copyright © danielle bell and dWELL, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to danielle bell and dWELL with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.[/box]

[box] i taught this workshop as a breakout session at the ETCH ministry conference in nashville, tn. below are my notes for “kids are the church of today.”[/box]

kids are the church of today, not the church of tomorrow. if we truly believe that a child is a part of the Body of Christ once they have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, why do we so often sideline them and make them wait until they are an adult to be an active part of the Church? i wish i could say i was an expert in this area, but through deep conviction and renewing of passion this past year, we made some strategic, simple changes that we are beginning to see have a big impact in our ministry to kids. in this post, we will explore ways we can be intentional about ensuring that we are preparing and purposefully helping kids be the church of today.

give them a safe place to soak up truth

  • is it a priority for all your program and events to be Gospel-centered?
  • the Gospel makes kids part of the Body of Christ, not moralism. what are you giving your kids?
  • the Word of God is alive and active, may it be your source.
    • our words don’t change lives, but His do.
    • do kids understand that the truth of God’s Word is the why and what of all you do?
  • when kids leave is it Jesus they remember?

    • i don’t want kids leaving remembering an activity. i want them to leave remembering Jesus.
    • i don’t want kids to look back and remember me. i want Jesus to be who they remember in their kid ministry years.


give them a safe place to seek Jesus

  • how are you allowing kids to grapple with the truth?
    • kids have questions and doubts.
    • if we don’t give them answer from God’s Word the world will give them answers.
    • is there a safe place for kids to ask the hard questions?
    • coming up in dawson kids, after our kids study the lesson on doubting thomas they will turn in questions they have about Jesus. we will do an interactive night of answers with me, the associate minister to children, and our new senior pastor.
  • allow room for the Holy Spirit
    • we often believe a successful lesson is one that completes every activity a curriculum has to offer. our God can often surprise us and take a lesson in a different direction if we will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading.
    • sometimes we shy away from the hard lessons in scripture because we are afraid or feel unequipped to teach these truths. i believe the hard lessons can challenge us to completely rely on the Holy Spirit and we will be able to have real discussion and discovery. i blogged about my favorite tough lessons to teach here: God is mean. 
  • are you being intentional to ask questions to get to the root of what they believe?
    • sometimes it is simply easier to ask the simple questions and get the “sunday school” answers and move on. but is this really helping kid sbe the church of today?
    • while we may think we are doing a great job presenting Gospel, until we follow up with a series of questions how do we really know what the truths children grasp?
  • are kids participants or observers in prayer at your church?
    • given the opportunity, kids not only can actively participate in prayer, they can be prayer leaders.
    • kids participating in prayer time might make it a bit messy or loud, but the battlefield of prayer is messy.


give them a safe place to serve others

  • are kids setting the example of service?
    • do kids and families in your ministry see kids actively serving?
    • with our sunday smasH greeter, we are not only teaching kids to serve and greet, we are teaching them how to converse with strangers and be ambassadors to new children and families.
  • are all your service opportunities inside the comfort zone of the kids?
    • when Jesus taught service as He washed His disciple’s feet, He wasn’t worried about making His disciples comfortable. He longed to teach them the truth.
    • if we don’t push kids outside of their comfort zone as they serve, how will they learn to rely on the Holy Spirit that lives inside them?
  • do you allow the kids to brainstorm ways to serve?
    • this generation of kids longs to serve and they are sp creative.
    • when was the last time you presented the problem and allowed kids to seek God on ways they can serve to help?


give them a safe place to share the Gospel

  • we want them to share the Gospel in their schools and with others, but have we ever given them a chance to practice in a safe environment.
  • Gospel God’s plan for me is a great resource to help kids understand and share the Gospel with others. 
    • i learned today that lifeway offers several videos to use to share the Gospel truth with your kids, parents, families, and leaders. check those out here.
    • when you have a child truly get it, why not use a video of them sharing the Gospel in their own words. that’s what we did with one of our sweet 5th grade girls. check out her short video below.



  • hear the Gospel from all ages
    • recently after of kids had studied the crucifixion on a sunday, we invited over 35 adults to come share in their collide tribes what the Gospel means to them. this was such a special night to see different generations come together and discuss the cross.
    • we have been studying about the Gospel quite a bit and i got this text from a mom quoting her 1st-grade daughter, ““you know i really think the Gospel is starting to stick… like it’s sticking to my heart and it’s becoming part of my brain… Ii think that’s what those collide folks are trying to get done in the first place!”
  • practice sharing the Gospel
    • in life groups on sunday morning, our investors took time to highlight the Gospel scriptures with the kids in each of their Bibles. 
    • one wednesday night after the Gospel presentation, our tribes went back to their small group rooms and kids practiced sharing the Gospel with each other. it was so neat to see them practicing peer to peer.
    • not only did our kids hear what the crucifixion meant to adults, they got to practice sharing the Gospel with these adults in a safe place, where there was grace and helpful adults. hopefully, through practice, kids will be confident to share the Gospel in their personal mission fields. 


i believe it can be difficult to change lots of things at once, so i have added some survey questions to get you thinking about what one thing you can add, remove, or change in your ministry to help kids be the church of today.

  • are there areas where you are sidelining kid believers?
  • when will you add time for kids to ask the tough questions?
  • how can you involved kids in prayer this sunday?
  • how can you move kids out of their comfort zone on their next service project?
  • when will you add an intentional time to allow kids to practice sharing the Gospel?

[box type=”warning”] dWELL copyright © danielle bell and dWELL, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to danielle bell and dWELL with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.[/box]

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