#10 – The Dreaded Discipline System (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.

Large groups all have some sort of discipline system.  Whether it is spoken or reduced to writing, any large group of people has its own discipline system or it devolves into chaos and anarchy.  We set up a system in our classroom when we were having problems with the kids interrupting and talking too much during the large group lesson.  I will not go into the details the system, but suffice to say that there are four key components to any good discipline system:

  1. First, set up your system as a reward system.  Don’t punish the kids for not doing something they should – reward them for doing what you do ask.
  2. Two, keep it simple.  If the system gets so complex that you can’t administer it and the kids can’t remember it, then it doesn’t do anyone any good.
  3. Three, communicate the system clearly to the kids.  They need to understand exactly how the system works, what they can and can’t do, and what the rewards are.
  4. Finally, don’t enforce it yourself during the large group teaching time unless you have no other option.  This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but if you have to interrupt your large group teaching every time a kid can’t keep his hands to himself, it will destroy the flow of your teaching and reduce its effectiveness.  Rely on other leaders and volunteers to enforce the discipline system.  Make the system clear to them as well, and ask for their help!

Remember, discipline is about discipling a child, and having a system in place is as much about the other kids in the room as the child who is receiving the discipline.  Many people don’t want to implement a discipline system because they want the kids to “have fun” in their classrooms.  This view ignores two important considerations:

  1. It ignores the other kids in the room who are not acting out and deserve a secure and controlled learning environment in which they can learn about Jesus and God’s word.
  2. It ignores that fact that most kids who act out actually desire rules and a controlled environment – no matter what they tell you!

Return to the Tips for Large Group Teaching in Children’s Ministry index page.


Blog Patrol (June 30, 2009)



The Blog Patrol is now three months old, and I have had a great time putting together every week. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve found a lot of great blogs out there, and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback. So…I’m changing it up.  The truth is, this one weekly entry takes up a large chunk of my time. That time is starting to take away from my priorities in life…my God, my family and my ministry to kids. So, I’ve decided, at least temporarily to change things. Going forward, The Blog Patrol will be a monthly series rather than weekly. I can’t promise how soon after the end of each month I will get it out, but I am going to do my best. Also, over the last several months, The Blog Patrol has become increasingly focus on the issues of children’s ministry, kids and parenting. Without intending it, my love and God’s will for my life has had a significant impact on this series. So, I’ve decided for the time being I will be limited the monthly Blog Patrol to articles related primarily to those three topics. I still follow a lot of other non-Children’s Ministry related blogs, and if I see something particularly appealing, I will be sure to pass that along. So, with that out of the way, let’s get on to the last weekly installment of the Blog Patrol. By the way, if you have any feedback about the change in format, I would love to hear about it. Enjoy!

Since last week was dedicated to articles about parenting, kids, and children’s ministry in honor of Father’s Day, there are a lot of stragglers this week. I tried to limit it to the “best of the best!”


These are the stragglers from the prior week which I either didn’t receive or find in time to add to last weeks Blog Patrol. Enjoy!

How Much Of What We Believe Is From The Bible?

  • This articles asks the pressing question, are there doctrines you hold fast to that are not actually in the Bible. May favorite is, “God helps those who help themselves.” I’ve looked – it’s not in there!

On Disciplined Reading (Pt. 3): How Should I Read? Tips on Getting the Most from Your Reading

  • Bruce Ashford’s series on reading continues with this article with tips for getting the most out of what you choose to read.

On Disciplined Reading (Pt. 4): Why Should I Read? Other Advantages of Reading

  • I didn’t want to leave you hanging on this series. In this installment, Bruce Ashford looks at other benefits of reading.

Discerning Idolatry in Desire

  • In this article subtitled “12 Ways to Recognize the Rise of Covetousness,” John Piper looks at warning signs that your desire is turning into covetous idolatry.

8 Traits of Effective Church Leaders

  • Thomas Rainer looks at 8 qualities that are necessary to be an effective leader in a church.

On Disciplined Reading (Pt. 5): Questions, Answers, and Concluding Thoughts

  • In this final post in his Disciplined Reading Series, Bruce Ashford addersses some of the questions he received while writing this series.

On Disciplined Reading

  • I love a bulleted summary, and Between Two Worlds offers this bulleted summary of the points raised by Bruce Ashford in his series on reading that we’ve been following here on the Blog Patrol!

Ohio: The state of tightrope walkers and acrobats

  • Being from Ohio, I felt morally bound to add this article to The Blog Patrol. I’d love to meet the collective genius that came up with this tourism plan! 

How much do you matter?

  • From Children’s Ministry Online, Kenny looks at 11 reasons you matter if you work in Children’s Ministry.

Twitter thought

  • In this short post, David Wakerly offers a unique twist on how to think of Children’s Ministry.

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213 Things I Learned from Shepherding A Child’s Heart

Shepherding A Child's HeartI hope that you’ve found our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart” both thought provoking and useful.  There is certainly a lot of useful information to be gleaned from the book.  The following is my “cheat sheet” of things covered in the book:

4 Reasons our culture has lost its way in terms of parenting

  1. Many people in our day and age have children but don’t really want them.  Children are viewed as a liability in a culture that has increasingly convinced people that the paramount goal in life should be their own personal fulfillment.
  2. The idea of quality time has replaced the idea of quantity time.
  3. It is no longer socially acceptable for Dad to be the authority in the home.
  4. Children see their parents refusing to submit to authority which results in their unwillingness to accept a submissive role in life.

7 Observations on Parental Authority

  1. You must not be embarrassed to be your child’s authority.
  2. Our authority as parents comes from being an agent of God.
  3. We should never direct our children for our own convenience, but rather on behalf of God for their good.
  4. The purpose of our authority is not to hold our kids under our power.
  5. Our goal is to empower our children to be self-controlled individuals living under God’s authority.
  6. As parents, we must require obedience from our children because God’s word calls for obedience and the honoring of parents.
  7. Based on Mr. Tripp’s experience, children don’t generally resist authority when that authority is kind and selfless as described above.

5 Observations on Shepherding Our Children

  1. As a shepherd, our goal is to help our children understand themselves as a creation of God and their role as being made “for God.”
  2. The job of a parent is to lead children on the path of discovery.
  3. Our job is to shepherd our children’s thoughts to help them learn discernment and wisdom.
  4. We do this with open and honest communication.
  5. The Heart is the Focus of Shepherding (“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” [Proverbs 4:23])

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Ch. 15 – Infancy to Childhood: Training Procedures – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 15 – Infancy to Childhood: Training Procedures.”  In the early years, discipline is weighted towards the rod because young children generally do not give much weight to conversation.  In this chapter, Mr. Tripp examines the details of spanking including several question raised about spanking.

The “When” of Spanking

Tripp summarizes, “When you have given a direction that has been heard and is within his capacity to understand, and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking.  If you fail to spank, you fail to take God’s Word seriously.”

As parents, we must be consistent.  We cannot ignore disobedience.  Failure to be consistent results from parents taking the easy way out.  It is far more difficult to consistently make decisions based on sound biblical guidance and what is best for our kids.  Tripp also explains that we must not warn and we must not ask kids if they want to be spanked.  If we do, we train them to wait for the warning before obeying.

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Ch. 8 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Communication – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 8 – “Embracing Biblical Methods: Communication.”

In the last chapter, Tripp addressed a number of unbiblical methods.  In this chapter, he starts into what constitutes biblical methods, but first he reminds us that methods and goals must be complimentary and that our goal as parents is to help our children realize that “a life worth living is life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”  Tripp also reminds us that as parents we must submit to the same Lord.

Tripp offers that a biblical approach to raising kids involves both 1) Rich, full communication; and 2) The rod.

He offers the following list of verses to support this contention:

  • Proverbs 23:13-19
  • Proverbs 23:22
  • Proverbs 23:26

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Ch. 7 – Discarding Unbiblical Methods – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 7 – “Discarding Unbiblical Methods.”

In this convicting chapter, Tripp moves from the goals of parenting to the methods.  He looks at several popular, but unbiblical, approaches to disciplining our kids.  He observes that as parents we cannot afford to be indifferent to methodology.  Our methods are as important to God as our goals, and biblical goals must employ biblical methods.  The following are some of the unbiblical methods prevalent in our society today.

1. I Didn’t Turn Out So Bad

In this method, a parent blindly employs those methods used by their own parents without any thought to whether or not those methods are biblical. Continue reading

Ch. 4: You’re In Charge – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 4 – “You’re In Charge.”

In this chapter, we look at the basis for parental authority.  Tripp begins by explain that our culture is adverse to authority – not just being under authority, but also being an authority.  In our culture, we view all authority as derived from overwhelming force or by consent.  As Tripp explains, that leaves only 2 potential responses – either rebellion or servility.  In Tripp’s words, “Our culture has no notion of intelligent, thinking persons willingly placing themselves under authority.”

When it comes to parenting, the author explains that parents often don’t understand our biblical mandate to shepherd our children.  Accordingly, the goals of parenting often become nothing more than immediate comfort and convenience.  In order to function, parents and children must understand that God calls parents to be in charge over their children and that children are called by God to obey their parents.

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