Three Reasons You Might Be Losing The Boys In Your Kids Ministry

I came across this TED talk the other day, and it very much intrigued me.  For those unfamiliar with TED – it is a gathering place for some of the smartest and insightful people on the planet.  Every day, there are new talks (5-15 minutes in length) that vary in topic from physchology to art to science to quantum physics.  They are found at

This particular talk is by Ali Carr-Chellman, an instructional designer and author who studies the most effective ways to teach kids and to make changes at school.  In this talk she pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.

I think there are many implications for those of us in Kids Ministry.  Are we doing what we need to be doing in order to make our Kids Ministry palatable for boys to be engaged and “belong?”  I challenge you to give 12 minutes to watch this talk.  Then, leave a comment in my comments section to let me know your thoughts on this subject.

19 thoughts on “Three Reasons You Might Be Losing The Boys In Your Kids Ministry

  1. Great thoughts Brian! I grew up in a single parent home raised by my mother and never realized until later as a college student that there were some real “developmental voids” in my life because of a lack of having a father or other male role model in my life. I won’t bore you with all the details but it really took some hard work to “catch up” especially as a husband and a father. We need to not be afraid to allow boys to be boys! I’m afraid we have too many feminized boys that aren’t expressing themselves appropriately for fear of punishment or social acceptance. I’m not advocating un-biblical or immoral behavior but I would prefer boys to be boys with all the creativity and mischievousness that God created them with!

  2. This really makes me think. I like to think that I’m pretty good at catering to active boys but this really makes me wonder how effective I really am. Maybe I shouldn’t push the boys so much in school and make games a priority in Sunday School rather than something we do if we have time.

  3. Thank you Pastor Brian, I plan to share this with my Senior Pastor and all my teaching staff, which thank goodness is 45% young men. AS well with our parenting group.
    I’ve always had the feeling that 0 tolerance was destructive, when it comes to boys wanting to play with guns and swords and the like.

  4. I think the hardest part of this is the balance.
    When we first started do JBQ at our church, we would have a 2-3 hour trip to the monthly meets. Driving the bus, there would be NOISE and silliness and singing and gross stuff… you know, good fun. One year that seemed to really change…. lots of the kids have hand held games, DS’s… and the buses are much more quiet, and subdued… and the kids don’t seem to engage anything like they used to. It seems sad to me.
    When gaming is not available, there is or seems to be a period of “OK, now what”…and, If we aren’t going to provide gaming options, then there needs to be other boy-friendly activity times/environments with effective ways to transition to the other important things we are doing.
    And the change agent is people.
    It is up to us to create environments that draw them in… have a “staff” of people/volunteers who are genuine, knowledgeable and purposeful/child focused and share that same passion, love, and acceptance the Lord has put in our own hearts…. Who WANT to engage with boys (and girls) on a Sunday morning, and not just stand back and be an adult presence in the room. This is the challenge.
    It’s easy to run through a program… it takes real effort to be intentional :0)

  5. In the past and even now, our lead teachers are all female. There are now more young men involved, helping in the class. There is just something to be said about having a male presence for the kids to look up to, not just for the boys, but for the girls as well. Since the guys joined our teaching team, we have had less problems with discipline issues.

  6. YES!–hot topic for our kids min! We invite/ask/plead with men to see the importance of their impact on boys’ lives and still we have very few men teaching and leading…and I see fewer boys in the programs as they get older. This gives me some new ideas for evaluation and teacher training, but I’m really praying men will step up.

  7. I found it interesting that there was 0 Tolerance, then a lack of male teachers. Looks like the trend is following throughout boys/men. We don’t tolerate much and with the pressure that the school systems are going through…. the men have left/moved on. Seems like there is a pattern between boys & men. Although I agree with most of what she said, we need to have balance. Thanks for sharing Brian!

  8. WOW… an eye opener! I will say our Wednesday night program we have all men teaching and involved which I see a big difference in the kids. Boys do need men to be men and role models. So much to take in from this video, I will watch it again. We are living in a different cultural from when I was a kid growing up in church. The level of respect and engagement is not there. But looking thru the eyes of a child and what makes them get it, is really where we need to spend that time in prayer and seeking God for the creativity to reach a lost and dying generation. Thanks for sharing Brian!

  9. I totally agree. Some of the areas I evaluate (and adjust) to make us more “boy-friendly” are:
    1. specific recruitment of men. Sometimes I walk up to a man and say, “We need strong, godly men who will come in and be examples of ‘what a godly man is’ to our boys. Would you please pray about being one of those men?” In our church we have certain ethnicities, and I try to target men that will connect with each ethnic group too.
    2. I examine our worship music in kids church. If all the songs are “lovey dovey,” I need to change something. We need to be doing some “warrior” songs! Make sure your music selection is not just relevant to the girly mindset.
    3. I try to make sure we are putting at least one guy on the platform to help lead worship/actions in kids church. I don’t want the boys to look up front and only see girls/women on the platform. That gives the impression that “this is for girls only.”
    4. Being in the AG, I do believe there is a place for Royal Rangers (boys scouting program). Most of our churches now do blended gender programs ALLLLL the time. But, according to Focus on the Family, one of the greatest things we can do for boys is to celebrate BEING A BOY! And one of the great things for girls is celebrating BEING A GIRL. With all the gender neutralization of our culture, I think this will become more and more important in our church environments. Not saying that one is better than the other…they are just different, and should be embraced as such.
    Thanks for bridging this conversation with us, Brian.

  10. I highly recommend the book, “Creating Evercool – A Marketers Guide to A Kids Heart” by Gene Del Vecchio. He really breaks down the different mindsets of boys and girls at different ages. A MUST READ for any children’s workers.

  11. Yep, I have been in ministry for 30 years and I have seen this issue get worse and worse in the church world as well as the educational world(I was a Kindergarten teacher in the public school system in CA). Fortunately, I have been aware of these issues and found ways to engage my boys. At my current church the % of girls to boys was probably 60 to 40 when I first arrived. Now, we are running 55 to 60% boys without having lost any girls (we have doubled our Sunday am attendance and tripled our Wednesday pm attendance). First, I intentionally recruit the men (and women) the church needs in ministry to work with our boys (about 45% of my leaders are men). Second, I deal with each child separately when it comes to discipline rather than make these blanket “no tolerance” rules. Believe me it causes angst for the administrators I have worked with because it is easier just to create a blanket rule and then enforce it! Lastly, our classrooms and kidschurch are interactive with games (physical and mental) and we don’t ignore the messy issues – you know the book of Judges with all its fighting and gross details! Oh, and a statistic she failed to mention because she wasn’t speaking to the church – the graduation rates in Christian schools is already above the 60% women ratio.

  12. Trying to get into teaching as a second career has been extremely difficult; especially as an older male. Most schools give interviews to new grads, which you stated are 70% female in colleges. Part of the reason is because of the pay rate situation and budgets which are getting smaller. One thought I had about the lecture, which I enjoyed, was in giving writing prompts, students should be given a choice. If one were to finish an action story as one choice, most boys, and some girls, would be able to choose that against whatever else the second choice would be.

  13. Pingback: Monday Rewind: My Favorite Online Reads (Week of August 5, 2013) « KidMinspiration

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