Discipline can be a real challenge in children’s ministry. As I speak at conferences and work with church, it invariably comes up. First and foremost, I try and convey the idea that discipleship must drive discipline. It is not our job, nor should it be our desire, to punish children for misbehavior. Instead, every action should align with Paul’s instructions to fathers in Ephesians 6:4:
And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.”
Paul tells us that fathers are to be careful how their kids are brought up. Specifically, fathers arenot to frustrate, or anger, their kids by the way they are disciplined and instructed. Rather, use techniques and ways that are “approved by the Lord.” In other words, discipline and instruct in ways that are appropriate, that are effective, and that honor God. While this verse is specifically spoken to fathers, the principle of effective discipline and instruction can be applied further, including to children’s ministry.
Several years ago I wrote an article in Children’s Ministry Magazine called Discipline Tools You Already Have (click the link to get the full article in PDF version). Here are the 8 tools I mentioned in that article – and with these tools we can use discipline as an opportunity to I.N.S.T.R.U.C.T:
- I nfectious Enthusiasm
- N atural Consequences
- S ilence
- T ouch
- R easonable Expectations
- U nderstanding
- C lear Guidelines (Boundaries)
- T urning It Over
Using discipline effectively & appropriately is one of the most important discipleship tools you have. It’s important that we understand how to do it, and that we equip our team to do it, too!
Click through to the article for more explanation of each tool, and let’s all commit to discipline for the purpose of discipleship!