New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

The Children’s Minister

Rita B. Hays • February 2008

BUY Print $8.00

Your church's outreach to children and their parents are top-notch. The nursery and Sunday school classes are full and offer great faith-learning experiences. The daycare and parents-day-out services are thriving.

But what if a child who's a part of your church family reveals his dog just died? Her mom and dad are divorcing? The family is moving to another city? These are pastoral (not programming) issues.

Is your church prepared to be in ministry with children? To relate with children where they are?

Children yearn to be noticed and recognized as individuals who have an important place in the church. Remember the vow the congregation takes at a baptism or dedication of a child? The church declares a commitment to be a part of the lives of the children in their midst.

Sadly, children often are treated as objects of church programming rather than as persons of sacred worth. Shelves bulge with creative instructions for teaching children about God through activities but few exist about relating with children about their daily spiritual concerns. The Children's Minister fills the resource void to help you connect with the lives and pastoral needs of children.

"Part of our problem stems from the fact we are not even aware of the crises that children go through," writes Hays. "What a child may perceive as a great need may not have even occurred to an adult. … Even in situations where pastors, staff, and volunteers have earnestly sought to minister to children, many have felt incompetent. … This book is written from over 20 years of ministry with children: visiting in their homes, caring for them and their pets, celebrating with them the joys of special events, and walking with them in the ordinary events of life."

Senior pastors, church staff and volunteers, children's pastors—all will find a treasure trove of tested guidelines to help you effectively offer the presence of Christ to children. They are waiting for you.

Rita B. Hays is a passionate advocate for ministries with children and has served as a United Methodist pastor to children for more than 20 years. She taught Christian education classes at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky. She has degrees from Mercer University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

ISBN: 978-0-88177-527-3

Imprint: Discipleship Resources

Pub Date: February 2008

Trim Size: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x in (d)

Page Count: 128

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Children

BISAC1: REL109020



"Dr. Rita Hays has written a most compassionate, insightful and concise book on the pastoral needs of children. This is not your typical text concerned with programming. Dr. Hays covers the most significant personal elements of the pastoral relationship to children in a manner that makes it essential reading for all workers with children."
—Dr. Terry Swan Professor of Psychology & Religion Lindsey Wilson College, Columbia, KY

"Whether clergy or lay, serving on a church staff or participating in volunteer ministry, those who work with children will find themselves facing several of the situations outlined by Rita Hays in her book, The Children's Minister.

"You will find here a highly practical guide to ministering with children and their families. As Rev. Hays points out in her introduction, there are plenty of books that help us with our programming needs. There are fewer options when it comes to helping us with the ministry needs of children who, too, are looking for pastoral help, guidance, and support particularly in hard times.

"The information contained here in helping children when there is death, crises, and illness is particularly strong. Rev. Hays looks at the needs of children, and gives guidelines for those in ministry and for parents when serious illness, death, or disaster occurs.

"However, this book isn't simply a book focused on crises. Rev. Hays points out the opportunities for ministry through recognition of the importance of pets to children (and adults as well!), the importance of birthdays, and the importance of attention paid to the child's needs, wants, and presence. And even though The Children's Minister isn't a book of suggested programming, it contains some wonderful program suggestions. In an effort to link children to other generations in the church, Rev. Hays has included some suggested programming ideas through the church year. These need to be passed on to those in charge of programming because the beauty of any program is how ministry can emerge in the midst of fellowship, learning, and worship.

"This book deserves a place on the shelf of any who see themselves in ministry with children."
— MaryJane Pierce Norton Team Leader Family, Life Span & Latino Ministries, GBOD

"I am pleased to recommend with highest endorsement The Children’s Minister, a superb and long overdue resource focused on the pastoral care of children. This book is intended for use by all those who serve children in the church and is written by a seasoned pastor and children’s minister. Rev. Rita B. Hays captures with tenderness and skill the spirit of John Wesley’s admonitions to 'instruct the children in every place' and 'visit from house to house.' As Rev. Hays notes, children can often be the invisible members of a congregation when it comes to addressing their pastoral needs and establishing authentic pastoral relationships. Too often children are treated as objects of church programming rather than as persons of sacred worth. The Children’s Minister is an effort to help those who live and work with children in congregations to 'connect with the lives of children.'

"This resource presents a comprehensive strategy for relaxed, down-to-earth relationships with children, in good times and in bad times. The author offers wonderful suggestions and guidelines for meeting children where they are and sitting with them in non-anxious ways. In the opening chapters, Rev. Hays covers in helpful detail approaches for engaging children in mentoring through such programs as Adopt a Grandchild, and in conducting child-centered visitation and doing relationship-building that focuses on the individual child, his or her interests, family life (including pets!). Later chapters examine more challenging topics like ministering to children in times of change and crisis (new baby, moving, adoption, abuse, and violence), helping children cope with death, and pastoring children who are chronically and terminally ill. The suggestions in these key chapters are offered according to developmental stage and age-appropriateness and in sound theological ways.

"The Children’s Minister is recommended for senior pastors, church staff, children’s pastors, directors of children’s ministries, and volunteers who work with children. I wish this book had been around when I first became a pastor. As one of those tongue-tied ministers who sometimes find it difficult to connect with children, I hope to make fewer mistakes and bring greater sensitivity and insight to my pastoral relationships with children as a result of reading this volume and applying its practical wisdom."
—Dr. Dianne Reistroffer Professor of Ministry and Methodist Studies Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"The Children's Minister is a 'must have' for every one who cares for children in the church. Dr. Hays provides some very practical helps for clergy and leaders in children's ministries in caring for children. How does your church provide pastoral support for a child when someone in the family dies? How does your church care for a sibling when a new baby is born? How do you plan so each child feels deeply cared for by the church? This book answers these questions and many more. Thanks, Dr. Hays, for the gift of this book to the church."
—Mary Alice Gran Director, Older Children's Ministries, GBOD

Books by Rita B. Hays