Monday, April 23, 2007

What Kaleidoscopes Teach About Children's Ministry

The kaleidoscope is perhaps the most well known of all optical toys. It was invented by Sir David Brewster (a Scottish scientist) in 1816. He named his invention after some Greek words that mean "the beautiful form watcher." Brewster's kaleidoscope was a tube containing loose pieces of colored glass and other pretty objects, reflected by mirrors or glass lenses set at angles, that created patterns when viewed through the end of the tube.

You can learn a lot from a kaleidoscope – even about children’s ministry. Here are five:

1. Change things up. What's a kaleidoscope if you look in it and never twist the tube and change it up? Your ministry needs to change. In the last 10 years, I have changed the way I do Kids' Church about 15 times. Never be resistant to change. You need it.

2. Remember that no two kids are the same. A kaleidoscope is nothing more than a tube containing loose colored little objects. These different pieces are blended together to create something beautiful. Similarly, no two kids are the same. Everyone looks different, acts different, and learns different. This is one of your greatest tasks – blending a group of kids together and creating an environment where they can all learn and grow.

3. Children’s ministry is blending. The coolest part of a kaleidoscope is seeing all those colored pieces blend together. Think of everything you have to blend in children’s ministry. There are learning styles, behavioral needs, personality differences, social and economic backgrounds, just to name a few. This is cool though, because this is how God works - He is in the blending business. God said that one day “every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation” will stand before the Lord (Rev. 5:9).

4. Kids want to move. Your kaleidoscope works best when you put it up to your eye and begin to move those small objects around. Sure, you can look through the kaleidoscope without moving the tube and it’s going to be pretty, but it pales compared to what some movement will bring. Your kids want to get up and move. They want to do something. This is why you can ask for a volunteer and every hand will go up even before they know what they have to do. Let them move.

5. Everything is beautiful when you look through the light. That kaleidoscope sure isn’t worth looking at in a dark room. You have to look at it through the light. Did you know that every one of those kids in your ministry is beautiful when you look at them through the Light (capital L)?They are special people, created in the image of God Himself, and He has a plan for each life.

So, what did I forget? Are there some other ministry lessons you can learn from a kaleidoscope? Tell us what you think!


  1. I get stuck in a rut from time to time. I have to remind myself that the kids like to have a change of pace. I especially feel stuck in some of the songs we sing.

  2. Tim, this can be a difficult place to be in, especially if you are longing to make changes/improve. How are you feeling about the DVD's we purchased to use? Are they working out? Perhaps we can start looking for some people to start up a "band" to play on Sunday mornings. Piano, guitar, drums, etc. Just throwing out some thoughts.