Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

I’ve Been BANNED from #kidmin

I was brought to your children’s ministry by a friend. I may have taken the attention of my friend more than I should have during your lesson and because of that, you asked my friend to never bring me back to your ministry. You banned me from being there.

As I travel around the many children’s ministry groups on Facebook, I constantly see people seeking how others handle things that children may bring into their ministry. The two main things now are smart phones and the fidget toys that have recently gained popularity. It seems that the easy solution to handle these “distractions” is to ban them from the ministry, but is this really the right reaction?

Disclaimer time, one can never “throw a blanket” over everything as a solution. In your ministry culture and situation, it may be necessary to ban certain items.

I write this because it seems that in many cases, items are banned because leaders do not understand them, and instead of finding ways to incorporate them into the discipleship process, they discount them completely. This is nothing new in Christian circles. Christianity often delays in accepting new forms of technology, new ideas, etc.

Let me share some personal experiences:

Several years ago, a 4th grader entered the class, sat down and began playing Minecraft on his electronic device. Class had not started yet so I let him play and noticed most of the children gathered around him interested in what he was playing. I inquired about it, got the game and began to incorporate it into the lessons as able (see some examples here).

More recently, I had children struggling to learn the books of the Bible and so I pulled out my tablet and phone and introduced them to an app to help them learn called “Granny’s Bible Dojo“. One child actually had their phone in their pocket and when I told them it was okay to use it they commented to make sure that the ministry leader did not see them with it (yes, I went against policies by leadership who said they should not be there). There was a fear of using the technology in that space, even if it was benefiting them and helping them learn about God and His Word. My friends, this should never be.

One more example, I gave Bibles to all who did not have them with them in a class. I had everyone open up to a certain passage as I read. I looked at one young man who did not have a “hard copy” bound Bible, but was using his phone’s Bible app. Policy would have had me taking the phone from him during class, but I let him use it because I want to encourage the children in my ministry to use today’s technology to help them grow closer to the Lord.

I have not encountered the fidgets in my classes yet, but I often let a child hold a ball and they may play with the ball which may be distracting, but not enough to cause me concern usually. It actually helps their behavior and helps them stay engaged in the class. I can imagine the fidget toys doing the same for a child.

Instead of banning items because they can be distracting or misunderstood, I try to find ways to use them to help disciple the child.

Please do not misunderstand. There is a time and a place for everything. The children do not have their phones out the entire time. They are only used at specific times during the class, and if items are a true distraction, they are asked to put them in their pockets, but I have yet to personally ban an item from being brought to my ministry.

There is no one policy that will cover all circumstances, but may I encourage you to try to learn about, and incorporate items into your ministry instead of banning them because of a lack of understanding.



The Author


  1. Thanks! I plan to forward this to our T&T leaders.

  2. Theresa Gottshall

    Although I agree with most of what you said….I have encountered the most recent “fidget” toy and am THRILLED that the school I work in banned them. I am very understanding about some students being fidgety and having a ball or a special chair etc… and encourage these things when it is part of their educational plan. I am one of those who even prefer to hear “some noise” when children are engaged in learning. However, when something becomes “the new fad” and becomes a true distraction then there is definitely a time and place.

  3. I really appreciate your attitude. I laugh every time I hear people say that we want to educate our children so that they will be successful in the future, and then we turn around and ban electronics from the classroom. I am pretty sure that phones, IPads, and tablets are not just a passing fad that are going to disappear. We have to adapt to the children of today. There must be balance and clearly defined procedures for their usage, but there are amazing resources available that can reach our children at their level. Think about how Jesus taught His disciples. He taught them with things that they knew. I wonder how some of the parables would look like in today’s world.Maybe the story of the woman and the lost coin would be the woman and the lost cell phone! 🙂

  4. I am definitely a proponent of using technology in ministry. During our Sunday service technology is an integral part of worship and lesson. However the technology is included in each classroom and run by our leaders. Although students have the bible app and some even take notes, the large majority at the 1st – 5th grade level can easily get distracted and slide to games or social media. Another factor is the number of children vs. the number of leaders/volunteers. My suggestion is to incorporate technology for use by leaders. In Awana I dont see the need for their personal devices when the primary source of their learning comes from the books.

    Fidget spinners, in my opinion, can be distracting unless they truly help a child with anxiety and/or staying on task. As a classroom teacher in public school I have seen that the fidget spinners typically do not work as students are so focused on the spinner instead of the lesson.

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