Category Archives: Blogroll

Christian After School Programs – What Is Cost Effective?

“Is this cost-effective?”

If you have read through this Blog very often you know that we recommend that in serving at-risk kids you have no more than a 1-5 ratio. That is one adult to every five children. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked . . .

Aren’t you throwing money away by “walking with so few kids through life? 

And upon hearing this question, I am never sure if I want to cry or scream.

Realizing that if a church youth group, or a para-church outreach ministry, has 200 kids in their weekly ministry, but 10 years later only 5-10 of those kids are still “walking” with Christ…is that truly cost-effective?

Jesus himself did not spend the majority of his time with the masses…yes, he preached to them and did outreach type things with them…but the majority of his time was spent “mentoring” and “walking through life” with 12 men…more specifically three men (Peter, James and John) who were the ones God used to turn this world upside down.

So who are we to think we can do more, or better than God himself?

Would it not, in the long run, be more cost-effective to invest in a small number of children for a long period of time, seeing these children grow to be Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults who multiply themselves to the point they are changing everything around them?

From an investment standpoint, if I were investing in stocks, and I was only getting a 2-5% return on my investments I am not sure I would stick with them. Why is our investments in how we disciple children in youth any different?

What kind of return are you getting on your investment?

“…When the focus is on youth development, nearly 70% of young people in the most challenging of life’s conditions not only survive, but grow into thriving adults.” 
-Resiliency: What We Have Learned, Bonnie Benard

Now that is what I call getting “bang for your buck;” just imagine adding the power of God’s love to that? Wow!!

If you read the book you will learn that that 70% is based on 1 adult with a few children.


Church Based After School Programs: Serving Third Culture Children – Their Struggles

If you serve the children of immigrants understand that they face struggles you may never have experienced.

Mom and Dad want them to continue the culture of their “homeland.”

  •  However, to fit in they MUST adopt the American culture –which can lead to cynicism towards their parents.
    • They know more than their parents.
    • One young man told me how he and his brother looked-down on their parents because they couldn’t speak English.
    • As the kids adopt this new-found culture mom and dad have difficulty understanding what is happening – they are filled with fear.
      • Fear of losing everything they know.
      • Fear of losing their children.

  “Mrs. Lisa I’m going to kill myself,” came the whispered voice over the phone.

Lisa’s whole body shook; what should she do? From Grace’s voice she knew she was serious. “Grace, I’ll be at your apartment in minutes.”

Lisa grabbed her jacket and ran out of her apartment and to the other side of the complex. As she ran she thanked God that He had arranged for her and her family to move into this apartment complex.

Grace, a teenager, was standing out front of her apartment, as she saw Lisa running towards her she ran to meet her. Grace threw her arms around Lisa sobbing, “Mrs. Lisa I can’t stand it everything is going wrong. Rob broke up with me, kids are saying horrible things to me at school, and my parents don’t understand anything. They just keep saying, ‘Things don’t happen like this at home.’”

 “WE AREN’T AT HOME! This is America.”

Lisa took Grace inside and talked to her mother – her father stayed on the opposite side of the room.

Lisa drove the family to the emergency ward of the closest hospital – it was a full night ordeal.

Dad sat on the opposite side of the hospital waiting room far from Lisa, Grace and the mother. It was as though he was disowning his daughter. He could not accept that this was happening, this kind of thing didn’t happen in his country he kept insisting.

In the early morning Lisa phoned me from the hospital and told me what was happening. She was frustrated because she didn’t feel they were getting the help they needed – “Do you have any thoughts Wanda?”

It is so fun to see God at work as He opens doors. I connected her with a friend who is a psychologist and she knew a Christian psychologist of the same nationality as the family who was willing to work with them at no cost.

Through family therapy things were worked out.

  • The father acknowledged he needed to look at things from his daughter’s perspective. He couldn’t continue to live in the past.
  • Grace was able to see that things in the future wouldn’t be as bleak as they were today.

A few questions for you:

  1. Are you available if something like this happens in your after school ministry?
  2. Would you know what to do?
  3. What/Who are your resources?
  4. Are you aware of the struggles of third culture kids?
  5. Do you know how to address those struggles?
    1. Do you address them?
    2. Do you talk with the kids about it – bring it out in the open?
My parents were third culture children and I heard of their struggles as I grew up. My dad couldn’t speak English when he began school – that hung over him all of his life, he brought it up often.
I believe that part of helping the kids is helping the parents to assimilate into the larger culture of America. Encourage them, and help them to find ways to move beyond their “safe haven” of other immigrants from their country of origin. 

Church Based After School Programs: CENTER FORMATS

What is the format of your center?

  • How many days a week are you open?
  • How many hours are you open on each of those days?
  • What do you do in those hours?

To have an effective Christian after school program you must know what you want the end result to be.  You must take the time to brainstorm what you want a six-year-old today to look like when he is 40.  We have our trainees consider this at the beginning of training.

Only when you know who you want a kid to be when he is 40 can you know what he will need today to become that person.

After School Program Formats    There are several samples in the PDF to help you as you think through what the kids need.

Below is a BEGINNING LIST of who I would want a kid to be at 40. If you haven’t done so already begin to work on such a list for yourself.


Is a fully committed follower of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Is rooted in the Word of God
Is known as a prayer warrior
Actively involved in a Bible teaching church
Has a Biblical worldview
Fruit of the Spirit evidenced in his life
Is actively living out Matthew 28:19-20


God confidence
Knows how to identify and express emotions in healthy ways
Joy and peace


Has critical thinking and problem-solving skills
Still learning – inquisitive
A lover of books


Healthy relationships
Solid peer group of believers
Friendships with non-believers
Known as an individual who can be trusted
Respects authority
Leadership skills
Interpersonal and communication skills
Treats those with whom he disagrees with respect without compromise
A Biblical compassion for those in need


Treats the body as the temple of God
Makes good choices to keep body healthy – knows what those choices should be
Good hygiene

After School Programs:Church Based – A Family Service Plan

“When you fail to plan
You plan to fail”
Author Unknown

It is important that we are intentional as we minister to at-risk kids and their families.

Intentionality requires planning.

In the PDF below you will find a tool to assist you plan what services you will provide a family. It will take you through a step by step process to assess what each individual family requires for lasting change.

Do not attempt to work with more than one family in this intense manner until you have developed the policies that are unique to your church.

Remember that everything begins with the building of relationship. Read last week’s post – Be Mom’s Best Friend.

A Family Service Plan

If you are a Children’s Pastor with struggling families within your church consider using this tool to come alongside of them.

If you want to use this tool to train staff write me  for the Staff Pages.
The above PDF is from the KidTrek Directors’ Training Manual.


A Tutoring Plan

After School Programs: Church Based – What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers

Third in series on “What At Risk Kids Need.”

Last week we looked at the training that Secondary Nurturers need in order to be equipped so the kids will receive the following.

  • The truth of Jesus Christ taught at a level the child can understand and receive.
    • No false promises.
    • Learns Jesus has a purpose for every-thing that happens.  Our challenge is to not waste the pain.
    • The vulnerability and honesty of the SN in sharing Christ leads the child to discover the immense love of Jesus.
    • The challenge to know God and know His power.
    • Insight into how biblical truth can be applied in all areas of life.
  • Learns the power of prayer.
    • As a 12 year old, Jamal couldn’t read.  His SN asked Kim if she would pray for Jamal each day.  In return, the SN asked Jamal to pray for Kim. His response, “I’ve never done anything like that, but I’ll try.”  The following week his school teacher moved him into a remedial phonics program.  In two weeks he was reading everything.  (There was a follow-up discussion with Jamal that God doesn’t always answer in this way.)
    • Jamal also learned it isn’t just about him.  Kim, a suburban mother had pain for which she also needed prayer.
  • Learns how to function as a member of the body of Christ.
  • Development of critical thinking skills.
    • Kids receive specially designed “money” for attendance, bringing homework, behavior, participation, etc.  They learn how to write checks, deposit money in the “bank,” and tithe.  They have the opportunity to purchase items in the store each week.  Store items may be food, hygiene items, toys, books, games, potential gift items.  Kids “pay” to attend all activities outside of the center.
    • Tyrone was looking forward to purchasing the Lego Prehistoric Creatures today.  He had been saving his “money” for months. As he approached the store, the center director asked him, “Tyrone, have you bought your ticket for our trip to the snow next weekend?”  “No” came the reply.  “Do you want to go to the snow?” the director asked.  “Yes” Tyrone smiled.  “You better buy your ticket today or you won’t be able to go,” the director suggested.  “But I wanted to buy the Legos I’ve been saving for, and if I get my ticket I won’t have enough money for the Legos.  Will you loan me some money?”  The director laughed and told him the KidTrek Bank didn’t make loans.  The director helped Tyrone go through the process of critically thinking how the outcome would differ if he didn’t buy his ticket that day.  Yes, he would have to wait for the Legos, but they would still be there when he had earned more money; if he put off buying his ticket, he would miss the snow trip, and there wouldn’t be another one this year.
  • The opportunity to deal with delayed gratification.
  • Instruction in all aspects of handling money.
  • The opportunity to make and act on responsible choices.
  • A respect for education.
  • A vision for the future.
  • The opportunity to have meaningful conversation around a meal several times a week.
  • An education.
    • Most times it will be homework assistance and tutoring that is needed,  supplementing the school experience
    • One child was not able to learn at school due to learning disabilities.  The SN  began to home school her.  It has made a huge difference in the life of this preteen.
  • Development of a work ethic.
    • Learns not to expect to receive without working for something.
    • Learns chores and responsibilities are a normal part of life.
  • Opportunities to deal with feelings in a responsible manner.
  • Instruction in basic life skills – eating in a restaurant, making a bed, washing clothes, how to use a bathroom, etc.
  • Guidance in healthy manner of receiving criticism/correction.
  • A faithful adult willing to walk through stages of Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, and Identity.
  • Understanding that life does not appear fair today (Psalm 73) because we do not know how God is at work.
    • We cannot compare ourselves with others; we must walk the path God has called us to walk – Galatians 6: 4 & 5.
  • Understanding that feelings can be deceptive.
    • Learns how to handle feelings.
    • Learns importance of taking feelings to Source of all Truth.
  • Hope as adults, primary-nurturer/secondary-nurturer/Service Partners, work together to improve the family’s life situation.
  • Vision of a future that can be his/hers – unique to the individual kid.

The following is from a Secondary-Nurturer who has walked through life with her kids for the last four years.  She has had a lot of ups and downs, but remained faithful. She has gotten up early to take a dad to work when his car broke down; she has looked for kids on the streets when they weren’t showing up; she made her home a refuge for kids.  She ministers not only to the five kids with whom she works; she also ministers to mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. They know she is someone to trust.

We tell the kids that everything they learn, whether knowledge or skill, is something they will need to draw upon later in life. I don’t think they understand or believe this.

Last week Blanca and Henry interviewed for their first part-time job. It is only for three weeks but it is with the city helping weed and clean up the parks. The money comes from a grant for low-income kids. They both commented on how easy the interview was, basically if you show up you get the job.  I explained to them how often kids in the neighborhood don’t show up for jobs and that is why they have the pre-interview to see who is serious about work.  Two years ago, we helped a kid we know get one of these jobs, but he only showed up twice. He is almost 18 and has yet to finish anything.

I reminded them of the kids who showed up for the interview looking scared.  Blanca and Henry have had the advantage of public speaking and working with our drama teacher. The kids and parents give me a hard time about being early or on time.  At their interviews the kids were asked about whether they could be counted on to be on time. It reminded them that maybe I am not crazy after all.

Then they were asked what kind of skills they had with garden and wood tools.  Blanca and Henry have worked with me in my garden, worked with rose bushes, and removed rocks from my garden. They also have learned about wood working. In the interview they had some great experiences to share. The average inner city kid doesn’t have these experiences, nor do they have the work ethic developed like Blanca and Henry.

In my world, those are huge things, though often taken for granted because they are just part of being a productive adult. In the inner city they are huge because these are typically learned during childhood, and they fail as adults without them.

When I first started in ministry I thought the goal was to raise good, godly kids; now I realize the goal is to raise great and godly adults. This is a huge difference. You can have good kids but that doesn’t mean they will be prepared for adulthood or be great and godly adults. We have to look beyond the now and look for positive outcomes.

What are we teaching them that will make their generation different from their ancestors?




After School:Church Based – Why?

(For “KidTrek: Sunday Plus” – a blog on the church’s children’s ministry – click here)

“‘Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. “
(Zechariah 7:10-11 ESV)


Then he will answer them, saying,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:45-46 ESV)

Why should the church read out to those who are in need?


In the weeks ahead we will look at what you can do at your church to make a difference through an After School Ministry.



By Wanda

We are making some changes!

Trying to write about After School Programs, which is outreach oriented, and Children’s Ministry, which is geared to church raised kids, at the same time wasn’t working.

Thus we have split the two.

KidTrek: Sunday Plus is a new blog which will focus on ministry to children raised in the church.  We are still developing it so expect some glitches over the next few weeks.

KidTrek – After School Programs is this Blog beginning today. The URL has been changed too This Blog will now focus on outreach through the children’s ministry. That is actually where we began.

I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of these changes.

My passion is seeing kids discipled to walk with Jesus. I believe that the church is challenged to not only disciple their own children but to also reach out into the community and disciple kids who do not receive this nurturing at home.