20 to Watch
To continue marking Children's
Ministry Magazine's 20th anniversary, we're celebrating 20
high-energy, high-impact leaders who are thinking big. They're
currently engaged in local churches as ministry leaders. Because
they have hearts that extend beyond their own ministries, they're
changing kidmin thinking and practices. You may not recognize
them-yet. But we believe these leaders will be around for the next
20 years influencing children's ministry. Read on to discover our
20 to watch.
Minister of Children, Belle Aire Baptist Church,
|During the 13-plus years Danielle has
served at Belle Aire, she's been humbled and "blessed beyond words"
to see Christ impact young lives. Her ministry purpose is "to not
merely entertain children so they'll be happy but to have them
experience the life-changing truth of God's Word so they'll long to
live holy lives."
Danielle has written for Children's Ministry Magazine, and she
blogs about faith and ministry at dandibell.com. She was a presenter at
Children's Ministry Magazine Live for six years and is leading the
Inside Track team for Group's 2011 KidMin Conference.
"How can I not share the incredible, life-changing gift of Jesus
Christ, after everything he's done and been to me?" Danielle
Children's Pastor, Bethel Temple, Hampton,
|As a Sunday school assistant, Spencer got
hooked on ministry by age 12. Since then, he's networked with
hundreds of children's ministers through Twitter, Facebook, and his
At Bethel, a multiethnic church, Spencer and his team created a
weekly outreach program and revamped its curriculum and volunteer
recruitment. Whether Spencer is focusing on his own ministry or
equipping others, the "eternal impact" of his work keeps him
Spencer's been a featured speaker at numerous conferences, a member
of Kidology's children's pastor team for five years, and a coach in
Jim Wideman's Infuse mentoring program for two years. "Sometimes I
think the greatest impact I can have is with individuals, one on
one," Spencer says.
Children's Ministry Pastor, Trinity Church, Lubbock,
|Although Jonathan had to be talked into
switching to children's ministry seven years ago, he soon
discovered the joy of nurturing spiritual development. "I love
seeing children 'get it,' and I want to provide as many 'get it'
opportunities as possible," he says.
After moving his church from traditional Sunday school to a
family-outreach programming model, Jonathan has made himself
available to leaders around the country who want to do the same
thing. For more than four years, he's been writing at jonathancliff.com, where he averages about
5,000 page views monthly.
Jonathan speaks at national kidmin events, and he's collaborated on
numerous projects to bring attention to family ministry because he
believes "collaboration can really change our impact in our local
Next Generation Pastor, Gateway Church, Austin,
|Kenny felt called into children's ministry
by age 14, and five years later he felt the need to equip others in
the field. A major way he does that is through his blog at childrensministryonline.com, which receives
about 10,000 page views each month.
Kenny began the site four years ago after an Internet search
resulted in many "outdated and old-school" children's ministry
sites. "I had more than 10 years of experience that I just wanted
to share," he says.
In addition to sharing ideas and strategies and building
relationships, Kenny's blog also offers him a platform to write for
magazines and books, speak at conferences, and give interviews.
"I'm just honored to encourage children's ministers as they do the
greatest work in the world," he says.
Children's Director, La Jolla Presbyterian Church, La
|When Nick launched a preteen ministry from
scratch more than 12 years ago, he found few age-appropriate
resources for fourth- through sixth-graders. So he developed his
own-and saw his preteen group grow from a handful of kids to more
Three years ago, Nick launched preteenministry.net to provide relevant
resources and to connect with other leaders. As part of the
creative team at fourfivesix.org, Nick connects preteen
ministers locally and regionally. Because he's been enriched by
these friendships, Nick dreams of a day "when preteen leaders don't
feel alone doing ministry."
Nick also writes a popular blog (preteenministry.net/blog/), as well as
Children's Ministry Magazine's preteen column.
Pastor and NextGen Team Leader, LifeChurch.tv, Edmond,
|As the leader of LifeKIDS at LifeChurch.tv,
Allyson helps develop and distribute hundreds of free resources to
churches around the globe. Each day, visitors to open.lifechurch.tv download an average of 467
materials, from music and games to discipleship and parenting
Allyson is an innovator in the "NextGen" movement, which merges
children's and youth ministries, targeting kids from birth to age
18. She loves sharing what she's learned with ministers at churches
of all sizes.
Because Allyson didn't have a relationship with Jesus until age 25,
she's passionate about helping children become Christ-followers at
an early age. It's an honor, she says, to link arms with parents
and other adults to nurture "kids who are joy-filled, resilient,
and fully dependent on Christ."
Children's Director, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta,
|In addition to overseeing children's
ministry at a large, multisite church, Kendra speaks at conferences
such as Orange and Drive. She also writes for the ReThink Group and
blogs at insidenorthpoint.org/kids.
Kendra is in awe of the directors and volunteers at North Point's
three Atlanta-area campuses. "They've created the kind of
environments that our kids can't wait to attend," she says.
Kendra feels privileged to have a front-row seat to "see the
incredible life change" in children's hearts when they connect to
Christ. She recognizes that today's hands-on, tech-savvy kids want
to "do something to impact the world"-and that our job is to give
them wings, develop them, and fuel them.
KidsWorld Group Life Director, Christ Community Church, St.
|Matt thrives on using new technology to
reach young learners and the people who minister to them. His ebook
project What Matters Now in Children's Ministry was
downloaded more than 3,300 times in 15 countries, and a global
version is in the works.
In addition to his church position, Matt speaks at numerous
conferences and is webmaster for the Cory Center for Children's and
Family Ministry (corycenter.org). His blog there receives about
500 hits daily, and he does "reverse mentoring" through the
center's Side by Side Coaching Network.
Matt, who's releasing an iPhone app for family devotions, dreams of
developing the next iteration of children's ministry-in which apps
and Web resources replace construction paper and craft
Children's Pastor, Word of Life Christian Center, Lone Tree,
|Eric dreams big. He wants to impact every
part of a child's world with the gospel. "I'd like to see a
fingerprint of our children's ministry in the kids' sports,
schools, homes, neighborhoods, and hobbies." He wants to reach kids
through media and wants to mobilize families into taking short-term
This big-picture thinking comes in handy for Eric's role as global
focus director for the International Network of Children's
Ministry. Through INCM, he leads training teams and events
worldwide. Eric also was a contributing writer for the children's
ministry guidebook It Worked for Us.
As Eric ministers, writes, and speaks at conferences, he emphasizes
that children are the church of today, not just the church of
Associate Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Madison,
|Tony serves at a small church, but the Web
site he started three years ago now attracts about 200,000 visitors
worldwide each month. At ministry-to-children.com, a variety of free
articles and lessons meet the many needs of children's
While attending seminary, Tony assumed he'd become a "preaching
pastor," but he finds great joy in seeing children walk in God's
truth. "When I look into the face of a child, I imagine how that
little one will look into the face of Jesus," he says.
Tony wants to see his own five children grow in the knowledge of
God "so that one day they'll know his grace even better than I
Director of Christian Education, Ambassador Church, Montrose,
|Gloria, who has backgrounds in social work
and Christian education, has served in children's ministry for 15
years. At Ambassador, a multisite, multiethnic, mission-based
church, she's awed by the "amazing transformation" that takes place
in children's lives. "When parents tell me they see changes in
their kids and attribute part of it to our ministry, I can only
thank God for allowing me to be part of this," Gloria says.
She also loves helping volunteers understand that ministry isn't
about spending an hour in a classroom but about discipleship and
developing relationships. For seven years, Gloria has served as a
Group R.E.A.L. ambassador, training church leaders and volunteers
around the country to use dynamic teaching methods.
Children's Pastor, Irving Bible Church, Irving,
|Gary decided to enter children's ministry
almost 20 years ago, while serving as a missionary in his home
country of South Africa. The message of Deuteronomy 6 drives him to pass faith on to
the next generation, and he does this by "challenging and
releasing" people to use their gifts to impact kids.
Gary credits his faith for helping him try bold new approaches to
children's ministry. For example, one summer he took a group of
fourth- and fifth-graders to Tanzania, marveling at their maturity
and at what God accomplished through them.
Gary also writes magazine and Web articles and speaks at
conferences such as Children's Ministry Magazine Live, Children's
Pastors Conference, and Lifeserve.
Children's Pastor, Redeemer Church, Utica, New
|Although his work at Redeemer is Sam's
priority, he also "tries to be for other kids' pastors what I wish
I had when I was first starting." Toward that end, he's part of Jim
Wideman's Infuse mentoring program and tries to answer all queries
from other children's ministers.
Sam is a prolific blogger (samluce.com), has almost 3,200 Twitter
followers, and contributes to K! Magazine and several books. He
co-hosted the CMedge podcast and won the 2010 Jaw Drop Innovation
Award for his online company Bible Bucks 2.0 (mybiblebucks.com).
Spending 13 years at the same church, seeing children grow and
experience God's life-changing power, has affected Sam's
perspective about the importance of ministry. He's devoted to a
team-driven approach that "not only lasts beyond me but thrives
Children's Ministry Director, Faith Promise Church, Knoxville,
|Not only is Gina in a new setting (having
recently moved from Oklahoma's LifeChurch.tv), but her focus has been
shifting, too. As she moves into generational ministry, she's
always pondering "how one generation can use its God-given talents
to pour into another generation."
Gina blogs (at ginamcclain.com) to give parents a glimpse into
her less-than-perfect life as a mom, wife, and Christ-follower.
This transparency has helped her meet ministry friends who identify
with and "sharpen" one another. In 2011, Gina is launching an
online group to help leaders grow and overcome common
Recently, Gina taught at the D6 conference, participated in the
Blogger's Lounge at the Orange conference, and contributed to the
books Collaborate: Family + Church and What Matters
Now in Children's Ministry.
Director of Children's and Family Ministry, Glenkirk Church,
|Anthony, who's served at churches ranging
from 50 to 5,000 people, credits devoted mentors for shaping him
and his ministry. In return, he now networks with other leaders,
serves on advisory boards and planning committees, and is an
internship supervisor for his alma mater (Azusa Pacific
Through his blog (westcoastcm.wordpress.com), Anthony gives a
voice to children's ministers on the "left coast." He also leads
the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the American Children's
Because his "heart beats for families who don't yet have a
relationship with Jesus," Anthony is pumped about his church's
after-school clubs held at three local public elementary schools.
Last year, more than 500 children-many unchurched-heard about Jesus
and were invited to attend worship.
Director of Elementary, Ada Bible Church, Ada,
|Dan intended to work in children's
theater, but now he produces large-group ministry experiences for
800 children at three campuses every weekend. His passions include
nurturing volunteers, helping small-group relationships flourish,
and showing parents "they steer the ship" for raising faith-filled
On Twitter, Facebook, and his blog (danscottblog.com/), Dan shares his ministry and
parenting journeys, as well as ideas and encouragement. He has a
busy speaking and writing schedule and also serves as stage host
for Camp KidJam, the reThink/Orange touring summer camp.
Dan loves consulting with other children's workers to help them
grow their programs and build relationships with children and
Children's Pastor, The Church at South Las Vegas,
|In February 2010, Justyn launched the
Napkin Conference to bring together emerging voices in children's
ministry. In its first year, 225 people attended, and more than 300
are expected in 2011. Justyn and his team also create
innovative-often free-children's ministry resources.
Justyn loves raising up leaders and inspiring people, but his
ultimate goal is to "make Jesus real to children." Although he was
skeptical about transitioning from youth ministry to children's
ministry three years ago, Justyn says he can't imagine doing
anything else right now. "Children are the most important age group
in the church," he says.
He dreams of seeing the church reach children in more relevant ways
and of helping parents understand they're the best "pastor" their
children will ever know.
Children's Pastor, Elmbrook Church, Brookfield,
|During 11 years in children's ministry,
Brodie has renovated programs to develop leaders and reach out to
communities. Elmbrook's nine-week summer day camp, for example,
employs 50 high school and college students to work with some of
the 55,000 children who live within nine miles of the
Brodie serves on the International Network of Children's Ministry
board of directors, is a Side by Side mentor through the Cory
Center for Children's and Family Ministry, and speaks at numerous
conferences and seminars. Internationally, he has spoken to young
people and trained leaders in India, Bosnia, Slovakia, and the
Dominican Republic. Currently, Brodie is spearheading a new peer
to-peer initiative that connects children's ministers in the
Dominican Republic and America.
Children's Pastor, Hillsong Church, Sydney,
|At Hillsong, David oversees a team that
ministers to children at four campuses and through 14 extension
services. He began one of the first blogs about children's ministry
(davidwakerley.com), directs the annual Kidsong
World conference, and lectures at Hillsong International Leadership
College. David produces popular Hillsong Kids resources such as the
BIG curriculum (used by more than 2,000 churches worldwide) and
praise-and-worship DVDs and CDs. He's also a prolific song
David wants the church to lead the way in innovative educational
models for children. He has "a real hope for a revolution in the
homes of our families" so there's "a radical Christian
counter-culture, not just a Christian subculture."
Pastor to Children, Cornerstone Fellowship, Livermore,
|For two decades, Christiaan has helped
children grow spiritually. A fringe benefit, he says, is that he
gets to be creative and innovative, and "no day is the same."
At Cornerstone, located in the increasingly secular San Francisco
metropolitan area, Christiaan has helped build the city's largest
children's ministry, with more than 1,000 attendees each weekend.
But he says any program's level of excellence isn't about the size
of a church but "the vision of the leaders."
Christiaan speaks at local conventions, co-hosts a podcast
christiaanity.com, contributes to blogs, and leads a local
networking group. He learned the value of networking while serving
as chairman of a large regional church ministry convention for more
than a decade.