Four Books That Shaped My Ministry

It is often said that the very best leaders are readers. Through reading, we have the opportunity to develop personally, grow in your skill, expand your knowledge, and seek ways to better lead our teams.

As I have worked with various types of leaders in the church, I often find that children’s ministers are most active and motivated to pursue constant personal development. As I consider my development as a children’s minister, since first being called to this ministry 31 years ago, I have recognized that a number of resources helped shape my ministry at pivotal moments. These books challenged, inspired, and informed my perspective on children’s ministry and my role as a children’s minister.

Below you will find just enough detail about each book that I hope you might be encouraged to add them to your personal collection.

Children’s Ministry that Works | Group Publishing

“Once you identify the needs and interest of children in your church, you can develop a children’s ministry kids won’t be able to resist. A children’s ministry should lay a foundation for children. It can only do that if churches focus energy, creativity, and careful thought on making children’s ministry a first-class, important ministry-so that people see it as a real ministry, not just babysitting.” – “Children’s Ministry that Works,” Jolene L. Roehlkepartain

When I was first called to children’s ministry, my local children’s pastor presented me with my first copy of Children’s Ministry that Works: The Basics and Beyond! This book quickly became THE children’s ministry manual for me and laid the foundation that all other training and experiences would be built upon.

Divided into four parts, this book provides insights from CM practitioners in the areas of:

Part One: Children’s Ministry Foundations
Part Two: Teaching Techniques
Part Three: Age-Specific Ministries
Part Four: Children’s Ministry Programs

This book is a wonderful reference tool and guide, recently revised and updated, addressing everything from nursery ministry to creative classroom techniques, ministry vision casting to ministering to special needs children.

The impact of this book has been so significant to my ministry to kids that I have since provided copies of it to individuals who express to me that they too have been “called” to children’s ministry.

Whose Child is This? | Bill Wilson

“When you stand before the Lord, He will not ask if you were successful, but rather, ‘Were you faithful?’ I believe that Sunday school should be the most exciting hour of the week. It should attract the largest number of young people possible. But that is not what will open heaven’s door-for me for the young people we work so hard to reach. Each of us must have a personal relationship with Christ. And it is only through the faithfulness of that preaching and setting the example that seeds will be sown that will never die.” – “Whose Child is This?,” Bill Wilson

Whose Child is This? shares the personal and ministry testimony of Bill Wilson, the founder and senior pastor of Metro Ministries in Brooklyn, New York. Metro Ministries is the largest Sunday School in the world and reaches over 50,000 inner city children and their families every week in New York City and around the world.

This book is a moving and challenging story of the hardships faced by many of today’s children. It recounts the stories of boys and girls struggling in poverty, abandonment, and neglect. Yet in the midst of such hopelessness, Bill Wilson and his team have shared the light of God’s love by serving both the spiritual and physical needs of tens of thousands of children.

At two specific times in my personal ministry, Whose Child is This? returned as a source of inspiration and encouragement. In both instances it was a catalyst that motivated my ministry to launch outreach efforts in the communities I served. As you read Bill’s personal testimony of salvation as a child and the strategy that led him to establish such a significant ministry, I suspect you too will be challenged to find ways to reach our beyond the walls of your local ministry.

Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kids Week | Sue Miller with David Staal

“When children’s ministry believes that what it does really matters, there will be openness to try new approaches. All will realize that it’s okay for ministry to look different to reach different people. Jesus provided this when he used a variety of methods-mountainside sermons, individual conversations, even a handful of spit and mud. He still uses all sorts of people to reach and teach others, as long as they believe what they do matters.” Sue Miller with David Staal

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I was hired as a full-time children’s pastor. The excitement and anticipation of getting paid to do what I was called to do was quickly overshadowed by the realization that a team of volunteers and scores of families were looking to me to help guide the spiritual development of our church’s children.

For me, Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kids Week became an essential leadership book in guiding the redevelopment of our existing children’s ministry. Sue Miller opens the book by describing the processes she went through when assuming leadership of the children’s ministry at Willow Creek Community Church. Following her account, she guides the reader through these processes that enable you to identify and develop on essential building blocks of an effective children’s ministry. She addresses the areas vision-casting, core values, small group ministry, volunteer recruitment, and management.

The book includes both personal and team exercises, making it a useful resource to study with your leadership or volunteer team.

Give Me Jesus: Gospel-Centered Children’s Ministry that Changes Lives | Ryan Frank, General Editor

“We live in a time when too many curricula, churches, and children’s ministries have lost their focus-a focus on the gospel. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and all its truth, there are many who opt for what will attract and keep families … Too often we downplay the lifesaving truth in order to accomplish other goals. But placing the gospel message at the center of everything, and keeping it simple, is the master key that unlocks the door to a successful, fruit-bearing children’s ministry.” Ryan Frank, General Editor

Give Me Jesus is a collection of writings from veteran voices in children’s ministry. The book is built on three important ideas:

  • Children are important to God
  • Children are important to you.
  • Children are important to the church.

Guided by these three ideas, each chapter relates the gospel message to a children’s ministry area of focus, including topics such as partnering with youth ministry, the gospel in the digital age, equipping influencers of children, and discipleship strategies for children.

Every time I pick up this book, I gain some new insights into children’s ministry in our current times. I find myself challenged once again to ensure that the truth of the gospel is central in all my ministry efforts. Give Them Jesus provides practical strategies for ministries that are current and will help re-center them on the transforming power of the gospel.

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Dr. Shaun McKinley serves as the international director of Children’s Ministries, administrative liaison to the general overseer, and public relations coordinator for the Church of God of Prophecy International Offices in Cleveland, Tennessee.