Church Based After School Ministry: Do you do RELATIONAL MINISTRY?

Each new school year provides the opportunity to assess how we did last year and plan how we can do it better this year.



How did you do last year in developing lasting relationships with each individual child that came through your After School Ministry? How could you do better this year?


Below are just a few of the challenges we talk through relating to RELATIONAL MINISTRY in KidTrek After School Ministry Training.

  • The individual who yearns to have a relational ministry must be bilingual; i.e. he needs to have the ability to communicate in the localism of those with whom he desires to convey God’s truth. He must be willing to take the time and spend the energy to get to know those to whom God has sent him to minister.
  • The relational minister will view himself more as a discipler of men than a teacher of knowledge. As a discipler, he will be willing to set aside his agenda when a need is presented.  He is going to listen to what is said, but he will also be reading between the lines.  When Bobby complains day-after-day of being tired, the relational minister is going to ask questions to find out why Bobby is tired.
  • The discipler is going to be sensitive to the environment into which he brings the kids. Is it conducive to building relationships?  Is there a climate of warmth?  Does the kid feel understood?   Does he know you will go the extra mile to reach him?  Is there more focus on the kid than there is on the material being taught?  Is everything well thought out and prepared?CIMG7396
  • There is a willingness to be stretched emotionally. He recognizes the need to grow in patience, compassion, and forgiveness.  The discipler sees each problem that arises as an opportunity for development, his and the kid’s.
  • Because he is called by the Lord, he depends on the Holy Spirit for his strength and believes God will redeem the time so he can accomplish the task that the Lord has set before him. Therefore, the discipler does not view his ministry as being from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., four days a week within the walls of the church.  He recognizes the need to visit the kids in the home, send postcards, make phone calls, etc.
  • The discipler puts the welfare of the kids above his own pride, recognizing that at times he may need to call on the insight of others to meet a particular need of the kid.
  • The discipler continually reminds himself to not fall into the trap of ministering from motivation of making himself feel/look good. It has to be all about the kids’ real needs not the discipler’s wants or needs.
  • The discipler is a friend. As he wishes the kid to trust him, he will trust the kid.  He will pray for the kid and he will ask the kid to pray for him, giving the kid specific prayer requests.
  • The individual called to a relational ministry is a prayer warrior. He acknowledges that apart from Jesus he can do nothing.  However, he believes that with Jesus all things are possible.  He daily brings the kids to the throne of his heavenly Father.

  • The relational kid’s worker does not buy into the victimization of the kids. He knows that with Christ everyone can be a victor.  He is not willing for the kid to dwell in the past but encourages the kid to look forward to what Jesus has for him.
  • The relational discipler has the joy of bonding with kids and watching as the Lord transforms them.

Church Based After School Ministry: Presenting the Gospel to Children

As you begin a  new school year are you prepared to present the gospel to your children?

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Church Based After School Ministry – Don’t Give In To “BORING”

images (22)We had a half-hour before the end of the day and I had four rambunctious sixth grade boys.

“Come on I have a game to teach you. Sit on the floor here with me.”

They grudgingly came and sat down as I announced that we were going to play Rhythms.

“Rhythms? What’s that!” one boy whined.

“I’ll teach you this will be fun.”

“The goal of this game is that you want to be #1. I will be the first #1 and you want to get me out of my spot by getting me to call off the wrong number or not being in rhythm.” I explained.

I proceeded to show them how to hit their folded legs with their hands, then clap, then snap, snap. They had great difficulty getting their hands to cooperate – they immediately wanted to give up.

As I snapped my right thumb and middle finger I called “Number One.” Then I snapped my left fingers and called “Number Four.” Maurice was Number Four and he called out “Number Four” but couldn’t get someone else’s number out in time.

This is BORING” Maurice complained and the other three chimed in “BORING!”

I insisted that they could do this, I insisted it wasn’t boring – the complaints continued.

I praised them for their effort and promised it might take time but if we worked at it they would get it.  As much as I insisted that they could do this they insisted that this was BORING and we should stop, “Can’t we just play a game on the computers,” they begged.

“No! You are going to do this,” I continued to insist.

Then suddenly something happened, suddenly their hands and fingers did what they wanted them to do. Suddenly they were calling out the numbers – SUDDENLY I GOT OFF RHYTHM and had to go to the end of the circle. Raymond moved into the Number One spot.

The next thing we knew we were being called in for Family Time – the closing of the day.

I will forever remember as they headed out the door,


KidTrek – After School Ministry: Are You Providing Relational Ministry?


Imagine that someone came running in yelling,

“Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming!  He’s going to be over at the park

on ______________________.”

Some of you would rush out because you would really want to see Jesus.  Wow!  What an exciting afternoon.

Others of you know this is going to be a juicy afternoon.  The Pharisees are going to be there!  Will they be able to trap Jesus this time?

Can you picture Jesus sitting there on a rock?  The crowd is seated down all around him and there is a sense of excitement.

How will Jesus answer the difficult questions that the Pharisees are putting to him?

 The air is filled with tension!

Jesus is calm.  He knows that He has the answers and He gives them slowly and deliberately.  You marvel at how He never falters.  The Pharisees are never able to stump Him.

A baby in his mother’s arms begins to whimper.  He has been sick for more than a week.  She has taken him to all the doctors.  She has done everything that everyone has suggested, but still the baby has become more ill.  She looks down at the pain-filled face of her precious infant thinking,

 “Oh, if only I could have Jesus lay His hands on my baby.”

The mother looks at the crowd that is between her and Jesus.  A shiver runs down her spine; she knows what she has to do, but she is afraid.  What will people think?  What will the Pharisees say when she interrupts?

The baby whimpers again.  The mother knows she must get her baby to Jesus.

She stands and begins to move, cautiously at first.

Then a father on the other side of the crowd sees her and, looking at his sixth grade son thinks, “Oh, if I can just get my son to Jesus, perhaps He’ll pray for him; then I know he

               will be less rebellious.

Suddenly others see and join them, pushing forward with their children, wanting so badly to bring their children to Jesus.

 BUT – there is a barrier!  How do they get past those 12 men?

“Don’t bother Jesus with the children.  Can’t you see He is in an important debate right now?  Take the children away,” one of the men shouts.

“Move back!  Move back!  You are disrupting things!  People can’t hear with your crying baby. Take it to the back where it won’t be disruptive!”

Can you hear the rebukes of the disciples as they push the people back?

But listen to Jesus’ words:

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Look what happens next!  It says so much about the importance of our ministry to the children.

Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus didn’t minister from a distance.  He did not hold his hand out and bless the mass of children from afar.

No, He took the children in His arms.  He touched them!  He held them!

Can you see the mother as she lays her precious infant in Jesus’ arms?  Jesus looks gently down at him and smiles.  He softly touches the baby’s forehead.  What sweet words of blessing is Jesus praying over the child?

Watch for a few moments as Jesus takes one child after another and blesses them.

As you begin a new school year how are you going  to bless the children? What does relational ministry mean to you?

Contact me at wanda@kidtrek if you need some help to think this through. How much of a difference do you want to make in the lives of the children you serve in the coming year?



I was living and working in a migrant labor camp in Texas – above are pictures of myself and husband (who I met while serving there). We were VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Volunteers, part of President Johnson’s war on poverty.  I was just out of college and had such huge dreams of making a difference. 

 Never will I forget the day that Lupe knocked on our door and asked if I would like to accompany her to court.  She was going to court with two boys, both 12 year olds. They had put bricks on the railroad track and derailed a train. 

 I didn’t hesitate – to get out of the heat of the Texas sun and sit idly in the back of an air-conditioned courtroom sounded like an enjoyable afternoon.  LITTLE DID I KNOW WHAT GOD HAD IN STORE FOR ME. As we entered the court I sat in the last row while Lupe went to the front to be with the boys.

The judge came in and asked the two boys to stand in front of him.  Caesar wore a filthy, worn baseball cap. Pedro stood with his head bowed and never looked at the judge.

“Take that cap off!” the judge demanded in a gruff voice.

Pedro and Caesar didn’t move.

“I told you to take that cap off!  Take it off now!.” the judge said in a slow gruff voice.

Again, neither boy moved.

Shouting this time, “Did you hear me?  I told you to take that cap off!  Do so now!”

Again, neither boy moved.

“You, you sitting out there,” the judge shouted pointing at me.  “You’ve come into our small community thinking that you know everything.  You think that you can tell us how to run our community.  Well we’ll see.  We’ll see if you have all the answers or not!  I’m putting these two boys into your custody!

He hit the bench with his gavel.  I sat there not able to move.  What had just happened?  This was supposed to be an easy afternoon, a little time out of the heat.  Now at 21 I had custody of two twelve-year olds.  What do you do with two boys who are about to become teenagers? Were they to live with us?

As we drove back to the Labor Camp Lupe and I talked about the options available to me.  We decided it would be best for the boys to spend nights with their parents and spend days with us.  Joe and Ellen, my two roommates and fellow Vista Volunteers, had a good laugh as I explained what had happened –  that is until they realized how this impacted them too.

One of the first things we learned was that Caesar wouldn’t remove his cap because he had a scalp disease and his hair was all patchy.  Joe took him to town to pick out a new, clean cap.  A daily routine was making sure his head and cap were clean.

We checked with the school to see how they were doing.  Because they were the children of migrant laborers and moved a lot the school was basically warehousing them.  We requested they be tested.  It took a little pressuring but eventually the tests were administered.  Caesar had an IQ of 69, Pedro’s was 48.

Caesar and Pedro had no idea what the consequences would be when they placed those bricks on the railroad track.  They were merely having fun trying to balance the bricks.

For the next few months I worked hard with the school and their parents figuring out what would be best for them.  In the end we were able to get them enrolled in a residential school for mentally challenged children.

I remember the day I took them to the school.  They were excited and I knew that they were going to receive training that would give them skills to function as adults on their own.

As I drove out of the school grounds I had a sense of accomplishment, a sense I had done something good. 

Caesar and Pedro were American invisible children – there was no one in their lives who cared enough or had the sophistication to get them the help they needed.  Little did the judge realize what a blessing it was for those boys when he placed them in my custody.

But as the years have passed I have often felt that those boys may have been left behind. 

Not once did I speak to them about Jesus.

What did I truly give them if I gave them the whole world but they lose their souls?  Mark 8:36

Years later, when I was concerned about the outcome of my own children the Triune God taught me what motivates most of us in what we do as we serve others. Motivation for What We Do   In the years that I served in inner cities I saw this motivation over and over again. Just one example of what I observed.


Church Based After School Ministry: What Type of Ministry Does Your Church Have?

Are you satisfied with the results of this Past year?

Look at the chart below – which type of ministry have you been a part of this past year?

If you would like to have a Youth Development Ministry read through the three following links.

What Do At Risk Kids Need?

At Risk Kids Need Secondary Nurturers

What At Risk Kids Receive from Secondary Nurtuers

Devicit or Youth Development

Church Based After School: “Life’s A Pain”

As we walk through life with children and guide them to walk with the Triune God it is important that we teach them the full truth. . .

Life often is a pain!

What are you teaching the children you serve, or your own children, about pain that never goes away no matter how much they beg God to take it from them? This is especially important as you serve at-risk children – their lives are filled with so much pain. Just because they grow to love Jesus and walk with them much of that pain will remain.

Please don’t lie to them and tell them that if they submit to Jesus that everything will be okay. IT WON”T BE

When we try to sugar coat life we cause more pain. If you have been a follower of my Blog you have perhaps read My Heart’s Cry – the story which taught me the importance of not over protecting our children.

My pastor, Todd Rettberg, is a pastor who truly pastors – he knows what you need when you are in the midst of pain because he lives with constant, continual pain that never leaves. I know from personal experience that he walks his talk. God has my husband and me on a very difficult journey filled with physical and emotional pain – Todd is walking with us through it.

I highly recommend his new book to anyone who serves children. It is important that we teach children that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want. You can find some answers to share not only with children – but adults who question if God cares when they are in the midst of pain and there is no relief.



Life’s a Pain!

But God has treasures to impart through it.

As a pastor who suffers from chronic pain himself, Todd Rettberg knows what it can do to people and families. With straight talk, humor and compassion, he shows Christians how to find God In the midst of suffering.

Available at:

Crosslink Publishing

The e-book is also available at Amazon.