Have you ever observed the older children in your ministry being extra talkative and/or disengaged, especially when they’re in a large group setting with younger kids? You’re not alone! There may be several reasons this happens, but here are 4 ideas you can use to help older kids stay connected to your ministry:

1. Use an age-appropriate curriculum.

Older children need to learn on their age-level. If they feel like something is too young for them, they will check-out immediately. If you have a large group of children with various ages, tailor your lesson planning to the older children. I have found that it is often easier for younger children to learn from curriculum for older children than it is for older children to get anything out of a curriculum for younger children.

2. Add digital media into your class time.

Kids, especially older kids, live and breathe digital media. That is their language. If we are going to communicate to their generation, we have to use the tools that speak to them. Implement some digital media into your class time and you’ll be surprised at how they respond. This includes but is not limited to games, music, discussion starter videos, etc. Here are a few resources you can use to find digital media:

3. Give older children more privileges.

I have found that often times, older children begin to think they are too big or too old for the children’s ministry, as they begin approaching the age of transitioning into the middle school ministry. Older children like to be treated as older children. Instead of ignoring this desire, we embrace it and give older children more privileges. Some of these privileges could include special trips, special rooms or seating areas, extra hangout times, etc.

4. Assign older children more responsibilities and leadership roles.

I have always operated with the rule that with more privileges come more responsibilities. If older children want to be treated as such, then they need to have responsibilities of being older as well. I challenge these kids to be leaders and to set a good example for the younger kids. I have allowed them to do things such as lead in worship times, take up offering, and participate in certain activities that require someone older. Including them in mission opportunities that have more difficult tasks is a great ideas as well!

Do you have any ideas for helping older children stay connected in the children’s ministry? Leave your comment below or on social media!

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GJ Farmer is a husband, a dad, the founder of ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, and is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in Somerset, Kentucky. He has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministries and a Master’s degree in Children’s Ministry. He has also been fortunate to lead and teach groups at children’s ministry conferences and to have had some of his writing published. Apart from working with kids, he enjoys reading, performing magic tricks, playing video games, and University of Kentucky basketball.