Setting up a Jr Church

Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

  • When you are growing up you were given rules to provide boundaries to help establish behaviour. However as you get older, you begin to learn why.

Old Testament/ New Testament Law example

Romans 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

With that in mind… let’s talk about some Church etiquette

Have you ever gone to a library?

  • If there is a certain way you are to act at the library, why not church?

1 Timothy 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

  • It is important to worship and to come to church, but it is also important how we worship and what we do at church.
  • Here are a few things to help you get more out of church and more out of God’s word.

Preparing for Worship.

Preparing for church is a key point to make sure that you get the most out of church.

  • The night before church.

Get things laid out the night before… so you are not rushed and aggravated in the morning.

Make sure your heart and mind is prepared and ready before you get to church.

2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

  • Find and Bring your Bible

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

  • Pray before the service

Pray for your Pastor and teachers – They have a big job.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

  • Come for the Right Reason (Leave the attitudes at home)

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.


Singing – A Fundamental part of worship

Psalms 98:4  Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Prayer – The way we talk to God

  • Pray not play… one letter could mean eternity

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Creating a distraction

1 Corinthians 7:35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

  • There may be visitors in here that have never been to church before. They don’t know they ought to behave in the house of God… They are Watching YOU!

Think about those things that may be a distraction:

  • Putting your feet up on the chair or pew in front of you
  • Talking
  • Getting up and going to the bathroom
  • Cell phone

2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

These little distractions are just what satan needs to keep someone who from getting saved…

Invitation – perhaps our most sacred time.

  • Pastors develop habits
  • Invitation is not the time to prepare to leave, it is the time you do business with God. – Distractions will keep others from doing so.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The Jr. Church is there to help prepare children for the sanctuary service. It carries a huge weight and burden to build and maintain the activities of the children and the workers assisting in the goal. As such the leadership should have all the attributes of a Pastor:

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

As such he should have the authority to do the things needed, yes empowered by the church to do the things needed to operate and grow that ministry. So many churches just use the first volunteer that will raise their hand, but that places restrictions of that ministry’s ability to grow. Have someone not trained or not empowered or not paid will mean that what you don’t provide will be the limitation that the ministry has.

Frustrated Jr. Church teacher

Lack of training in Jr. Church

The man you place in charge of the Jr. Church will identify whether the church expects it to be a ministry or a baby sitting service. Even a small church who is serious about seeing children saved, discipled and prepared for the sanctuary service should invest in a qualified minister; or training to prepare a qualified volunteer.

This training should be covered by or through the church and the Pastor should be intimately involved in the Jr. Church until the volunteer is properly prepared to the point that the lack of training will not hinder the ministry.


I guest preached at a church where, at the end of the service, we offered an invitation. Directing the children to the director of the Jr. Church for salvation I noted that it was 20 min. and we had not seen him come out. I poked my head in the room to see kids that looked bored and a man flipping through pages of the Bible trying to remember what verses he should read.

Afterwards I queried to him to determine that he never really gave the kids an opportunity to make a decision to get saved before… he simply used some papers he found in the internet to occupy the kids till the main service was over.

Lack of resources

I have seen church after church place burdens on the Jr. Church director because the Pastor of the church doesn’t feel that children are worth providing resources for. The Jr. Church should have an operating budget that reflects the size of the program and the potential it has to grow. This includes a salary for the director or Jr. Church Pastor (whichever your church has or uses), monies for proper equipment, incentives, Bibles, songbooks and more.

Remember that a proper Jr. Church is not a baby sitting service, it needs to be set-up and function as close to the sanctuary service as you can; yet geared to the level of the children. This means to make sure that the same resources that the sanctuary service has the Jr. Church has as well.

Depending on the size of your Jr. Church you are going to need workers or helpers. These helpers should be volunteers that feel that God could use them in the Jr. Church for the stated purpose  of preparing kids for the sanctuary. With that here are some guidelines to assist with worker selection.

  • Jr Church workers should be volunteers – Those appointed people will not, at times, give it their 100% efforts.

  • Your workers are there to assist, not to disturb the ministry.

  • Workers need to be interviewed and accepted. I have seen too many Jr. Church workers that are there to have a reason NOT to be in the sanctuary service.

  • Teenagers are not the best choice for workers. They might be pliable and obey but lack the authority needed to help in Jr. Church. If your Church is in need of using Teens for the Jr. Church, make sure to choose wisely.

  • Workers are there to assist, not disturb. Have their movements be subtile and not distract from the preaching service.

  • During prayer, workers should not bow and close their eyes to pray. The need to be watching and looking for those children who exhibit behavior signs that may cause trouble.

The Enforcer

Depending on the size of your Jr. Church group you should have an enforcer. This is the one person who shows an increased level of discipline with the group. This person helps to keep the speaker focus on the sermon without spending time on or being distracted by unruly children.

A note to the leadership: There is only so much responsibility that can be placed on volunteers. Most Jr. Church workers are untrained and unpaid; taking liberty to overly chastise workers is an inappropriate use of position. You should rather assist and guide them to help you prepare children for the sanctuary service.

Cycled Learning

Cycled learning is a pre-established series of lessons and/or sermons meant to cover and recover the fundamentals of the faith and obedience. This can be done, over the course of 1 year 3-3 times. Naturally the lesson examples or sermon presentation can be different, but the fundamental list should remain the same.

Fundamentals of faith and obedience

The Fundamentals of faith and obedience should cover a variety of topics that deal with Biblical principles and behavioral expectations.

1 Timothy 3:15  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Fundamentals of faith

  • Salvation

  • Assurance

  • The Bible – Who wrote it and why

  • Prayer – How to talk to God

  • Faith – what is it and how it works

  • Giving –

  • Heroes of the faith – can and should be used as examples of the fundamentals in action.

  • The Church

  • The Pastor and His role

  • Baptism

  • Events and divisions – Old/New Testament, Church, tribulation, rapture, ect.


Having a basic and developing understanding of obedience will create a child who will appreciate the order that God has established. It helps to stiffen rebellious mindsets when they recognize that God has established this order to protect and direct those to the position of leadership.

God, Parents, Those appointed above you, elders, governments, ect. are all areas that a child should learn obedience to. To know that there is a pattern of growth and understanding that will be moved forward through obedience; will create building blocks to proper development.

Training Obedience does not create Robots

After Vietnam, the military began a systematic training program that, laced within all the other programs; a mindset that a soldier needed to be able to question authority. This was accomplished by creating a better understanding of the purpose and use of the chain of command.

This retraining gave troops a greater confidence in the chain of command and the order and purpose of orders and directives, rather than blind obedience. The end result was a fighting force that was taught to think of the total mission objective rather than simple directed submission. Communication increased with a more open understanding within the leadership as well.

If you reflect on Biblical history, every failure of God’s people was due to disobedience. Every age and dispensation failed be a people that thought more of themselves than God’s directives. God understands that, as a child, there are different levels of learning and understanding. Through obedience a child will learn, progressively, the importance and rewards that being faithful and obedient to God will provide.


The ages for Jr. Church is a very important consideration as it will have an impact on the effectiveness of the program. This is also where many Churches suffer because of a lack of trained volunteers or Pastors willing to serve in this capacity.

3 Ideal Ages

4 to 8 – This age is where a child is moving from a nursery experience to one of sitting still and a basic understanding of Church.

8 to 12  – This age is where a child practices those things learned and begins to experience a closer sanctuary experience.

13 to 17 – This is an opportunity to practice those things learned previously and starts to understand why.

3 Stages

Each stage builds off the success of the other and each has their purpose. The leadership of each age group should meet regularly to fulfill a preset plan of development so that a child is well prepared for a sanctuary service.

Stage 1 – Stage 1 is indeed a challenge. You need a man willing to deal with kids that are still learning to behave, obey and understand direction. You should have one volunteer per 3-5 kids, if possible, because there will be several bathroom breaks, activities and issues to deal with. The lessons should be interactive; addressing the fundamentals of faith and obedience, by definition.

Stage 2 – Stage 2 is where you are “hopefully” receiving a group of kids that have been taught to behave, obey and sit still. You will need a man that is apt to preach and teach, as well as, a mindset to counseling techniques. This age group will begin to deal with social pressures that may need to be addressed from the pulpit or in a counseling session.

The lessons should be informative; addressing the fundamentals of faith and obedience, in practice.

Stage 3 – Stage 3 is where you get to put into place the lessons learned in the previous 2 stages. This is usually the man who is in charge of the Jr. Church program (but it doesn’t need to be). He should, have the all the attributes of the Pastor as, depending on the size, he can easily have 30 or more people in the service that will require follow-up, outside ministering and development of the membership.  The sermons should be probative ; addressing the fundamentals of faith and obedience, in understanding.

What to do with kids who do not come up through these stages.

Every church deals with the continual influx of people who come in at a certain age, missing part of these fundamentals; even adults. Much of the Modern Church Movements are trying to work with a generation that never learned the fundamentals of faith, so they just ignore them. This is a dangerous pattern to establish.

Each stage should have a few workers trained to deal with those who come into the church without the previous foundational elements. Do not make the assumption that they will just “pick up on them as they go along”. This will establish poor habits and create a fragmented picture of understanding as they continue. To help with this you might use a pattern of “cycled learning”.

Children are pliable, moldable vessels. The messages directed to them must be mindful that they can be easily influenced. It is important when preparing messages and when interacting to note that in a larger Jr. Church setting you are going to have great diversity within the group. This includes: ages, family incomes, education levels, attitudes, social and chemical influences. In this mix you are going to find 2 main groups:

Church kids – Church kids are those children where the parents faithfully attend church. These children are “usually” behaved or at least would have an avenue of discipline if the child

Bus Kids – Bus kids are any children brought to church and the parent is not attending Church. This includes kids brought by a bus, neighbor, friend or dropped off by a parent.

Ministry example of understanding diversity and experience

My wife and I were having a children’s choir practice where we were picking kids up (bus kids) and including them in activities normally reserved for Church kids. We began to practice the song “thank you Lord” when we came to the part “food on my table and shoes on my feet…” one of the young girls (8-9 year old) began to hopelessly cry.

We changed to a different song and she seemed fine, but when we revisited that song she began to cry again. Asking my wife to take her aside, she learned that that child had not eaten in 2 days and her last meal was peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In that group of kids, in a prosperous town, in our very own congregation was a child, who could not thank the Lord for the food on her table.

When preparing messages to speak to such a diverse crowd, be careful not to assume that every child comes from a good background…

Chemical Issues

Behavioral modification drugs are being used in schools today on a grand scale. These drugs are designed to keep students at a nominal level of activity to help control emotional fluxuations promoting stability. In many circumstances these drugs are administered at the public school throughout the week leaving the children dealing with a level of withdrawl over the weekend.

By church time on Sunday the children are dealing with emotions that they have not leaned to control. This may result in outbursts, disobedience, lethargy, rage and more. It is important to make this acknowledgement because often when this mis-behavior comes out it not generally within their control.

As much as possible the Jr. Church should set-up to resemble the sanctuary service. This includes all the main furniture.


Chairs should be set-up to accomplish 2 main things

  1. They should resemble the rows and spacing that they will find in the sanctuary service. If your Jr. Church has pews, the same applies.
  2. Isles are important to allow for freedom of movement for both the speaker and the workers. Depending of the size of your Jr. Church you should have no more that 5 seats between isles (we will cover more of the why later)


When possible, the pulpit should resemble a pulpit found in the Sanctuary service. Naturally it doesn’t need to look exactly like it but, kids should be able to see your Jr. Church service as a Holy, set-apart and sanctified place to worship.


When ask about communion I answer this: too risky. A Bible Believing church will know that according to 1 Corinthians there is a warning to those who would partake of the Lord’s supper unworthily.

1 Corinthians 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

In this arena I would prepare them as to what will happen, but as to allowing children to partake outside of the sanctuary service… I wouldn’t.  


Baptism is a fundamental of the faith and should be observed, in the sanctuary service. When a child in the Jr. Church program identifies that they have accepted Christ, an appointment should be set with the child’s parent to discuss what has happened and what to expect. (see below) Once the parent grants their permission, schedule a time to have the child brought at the end of the sanctuary service for baptism.

If there are regular professions of faith then try to get them all scheduled on the same day, perhaps once a month. When feasible, bring in the Jr. Church kids to observe this fundamental of faith in practice.

With the proper mindset of the Jr. Church, as a way to prepare a child for the Sanctuary service; music should reflect that preparation. Depending on the ages of the children there may be “Bible songs” that can and should be mixed in but, the main songs sung should be the same songs sung in the Sanctuary service.

A Pastoral Observation

A mention must be made here as to the type of music that the Sanctuary service uses for their worship. It is my belief that part of the reasons why many churches have moved to modern methods of worship using rock and pop style music is that children were not taught to love the old hymns of the faith in Jr. Church. Kids. Now, young adults, they are having a culture shock when the move from a Jr. Church program that only sings kids Bible songs and go into a more somber Sanctuary service with traditional worship. This disconnect means they might begin to seek out churches that provide an “experience” rather than worshiping God in the order and manner He desires.

One of the things we began to see happening, young in our ministry, after kids were getting saved in our programs; parents would call into the church, furious. We finally received an opportunity to speak with one of the upset parents and found what was happening. After a child received Christ they had a burden for their parents. The child was going home, telling their parents that they received Christ and that they should too.

Now depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit this can turn out good or bad; but moreover the kids were going farther. These children were identifying their parents sin to them. These children were boldly telling their parents that the smoking, cussing, lying and more; that they rightly learned in church was bad. Effectively judging their parents for their sin.

Most parents don’t take well to an 9 year old telling them what they are doing is wrong. The tragedy of this was the parents refused to allow the child return and we lost an opportunity to witness to the child’s parent(s).

This is when we learned that there were 2 conversations that needed to take place when a child accepts Christ. The first would be with the Child, to use restraint when speaking to his parents and siblings.  The second was with the parents. To explain what happened and what to expect. If nothing else this will give you the opportunity to accept Christ as well. There have been many great days after that revelation where we saw parents coming to church after that opportunity.