Sidewalk Sunday School – Reaching Kids Outside the Church

image One of the most significant obstacles we face in ministering to kids from disrupted homes is that they don’t tend to come to our churches. Statistically, children from ANY type of family other than married biological parents are significantly less likely to attend church. So, if you’re serious about ministering to these hurting kids, and there are tons of them no matter where you live, you have to get outside the walls of your church and take your ministry to them.

This past spring at the CM Connect Children’s Ministry Conference in Louisville, I was fortunate to meet someone who is doing just that. Rachael Groll is the Children’s Ministry Director at Living Waters Church ( in Meadville, PA. She has started a program through her church that goes out and finds these kids where they live and ministers to them. Rachael was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the ministry she started, why it works and how it impacts the kids she is ministering to and the church.



Kids in Crisis – The Quiz

image Attached is a pdf file with the notes from my breakout session at the CMConnect Conference titled Kids in Crisis: Ministering to Kids from Modern Families. Almost 100 showed up to learn about kids in modern families and how their churches and they individually can minister to Modern Day Orphans. If you were there and need a copy of the notes or weren’t there and are interested in learning more, the files linked below will help you.

Part of the breakout was a ten question quiz. Take the quiz first, then click on the answers pdf for the answers to the questions and see how you did!

CLICK HERE for the Handout.


The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy

imageIn ministering to children from disrupted homes, we stress the need to empathize with what the kids are going through – not sympathize! This great video is one of the most succinct explanations of the difference between empathy and sympathy that I have found.

The video makes some great points, and I encourage you to watch the whole thing (it’s only 2:53 long after all).


Dealing With Difficult Emotions – The Superpower Game

image Welcome back to our discussion of different techniques you can use to help children to identify, name and deal with their emotions. So far, we have looked at different tools for helping kids to name their emotions and a candy based game that helps kids to think about times and circumstances that have made them feel certain emotions.

This week, we look at a very simple game you can play with any child to gain some insight into what they are thinking and feeling. The game is simple, and we call it The Superpower Game. You ask the following question:

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?


Giving Thanks for Children of Divorce

turkey-504378_640 Thanksgiving, like many holidays, is hard on children who come from disrupted homes. On top of the normal stresses that come with a holiday season, children of divorce face stark reminders of how their family has changed, and most face a day without at least one of their parents. While many of us will be pondering and remembering all the things we have to be thankful for, these kids are likely lamenting another holiday which serves to remind them just how much their life has changed. So, if you know a child from a divorced or otherwise disrupted homes this holiday season, there is still something you can do to bring a little bit of light to that child’s holiday.

So, here at Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, we are encouraging you to do the following this Thursday for Thanksgiving:

  1. Pick a child from a disrupted home (particularly those kids who might currently be going through their parents divorce. This can be a child from your ministry, from your neighborhood or from your family. And, you are of course more than welcome to do this with more than one child.
  2. Get the child’s contact information for where they will be Thanksgiving day. Call their parent(s) and ask. Get cell phone numbers, land line numbers, e-mail, Facebook account, Instagram account, twitter account or whatever other way you can get in touch with them.
  3. Sometime on thanksgiving day, contact the child. Call them on the phone. Send a text message. Post online and tag them. Whatever works, but the more personal the better.
  4. Let them know when you contact them that you wanted to take a few minutes on this special day to let them know that you are Thankful that they are in your life.
  5. Ask them how their holiday is going, and provide encouragement where needed.


Dealing With Difficult Emotions: The Candy Game

image As we discussed last week, getting kids to talk about their emotions plays a huge part in helping them to process those emotions and get past them and move on with their lives. And, when you can combine that process with candy, well that just creates an all-around great situation. That why we were so excited to come across the M&M emotion game at

In this game, you use snack sized bags of chocolate covered candy (M&M’s) in order to get kids talking pdf to share rightabout their emotions. You and the child (or every child if you are working with a group) starts with one fun-sized bag of candy. On your turn, you pull one candy out of the bag and share an emotion/experience based on that color. Only after sharing do you actually get to eat the candy.

In this version of the game, you had to do one of the following depending on which candy you pulled out of the bag: (more…)

Dealing With Difficult Emotions: Naming Emotions

In working with children of divorce, you will find that they are either dealing with emotions they have never felt before or dealing with an intensity of emotions they have never felt before. Either way they are ill-equipped to deal with those emotions, and in order to minister to them, you will need to find ways to help them process through those emotions. The first step in helping any child deal with difficult emotions (whether those be from the dissolution of their parents’ relationship or any other trauma) will be to help them recognize and name the emotions they are feeling. This week, and over the next several weeks, we will be looking at a number of ways to help kids identify and name the emotions they are experiencing.

pdf to share leftSome of these techniques and methods are very simple and provide you with insights into how the child is feeling. Other ways are more in depth and include you working more directly with the child. The one thing all of these methods have in common is helping children to recognize the emotions they are experiencing and putting a name to those emotions.

This week, we are going to look at several tools available online to increase a child’s “emotion vocabulary.” These tools are all useful both for kids who have been through some sort of traumatic life event and for giving any child a more robust emotional vocabulary. Much of what we learn about emotions is based on our own life experiences, and kids do not have those experiences in order to understand many of the emotions they are feeling. The resources presented in this article can be used in a number of way: (more…)

Trauma Informed Churches

image In our world today many children are experiencing early childhood trauma. We now know through a lot of research that childhood trauma can affect a child for the rest of their lives. The website ACEs too High (Adverse Childhood Experiences) explains through several articles and research reviews about how trauma in early childhood can affect a child’s behavior and health during childhood and can cause life-long problems.

We know that early trauma causes toxic stress on the brains of young children. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about this issue. They encourage pediatricians to aid a child who is experiencing toxic stress.

pdf to share rightThis means they will need to not only check a child for the normal ear infections, colds and administer the typical childhood immunizations, but they will also need to ask questions about the home life. In essence baby doctors have been told, “Your new job is to reduce toxic stress.”


Without A Plan We Fail

image Recently I was ministering to a lady that was new to our area. She was from another state and had just moved here. She said she had to get out of an abusive marriage so she came to live with a relative and for some peace and quiet while she sorted out her thoughts.

I am always for trying to save a marriage. Unless the children are in an unsafe environment and the mom’s (or dad’s) safety is at risk, then I will mention the possibility of saving a marriage. As per my normal questions, I asked if there was any hope her marriage could be saved. She almost shouted at me, “NO! I’ll never go back! Not after what he has put me through.”

pdf to share leftI offered to take her through a program called “Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce.” It is about saving one’s marriage. I’ve used it several times. It has some thought provoking questions that help one sort through their feelings wisely before a couple divorces. I’ve seen several marriages saved with this program. If a marriage can’t be helped then this program gives helps for setting some boundaries for oneself as the couple moves towards divorce.


Emotional Concussions Leave Untold Damage

imageIn our world today many children experience what is known as an emotional concussion. Emotional concussions can be just as lethal, and sometimes even more so, than a physical concussion.

Emotional concussions occur when young children live in dysfunctional homes controlled by alcohol, drugs, explosive tempers and homes full of stress. They happen when children live with dysfunctional adults and with people who are physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abusive. Divorce can also be a major cause of an emotional concussion.

From the ACEs Too High website we find, (more…)