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.


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DANIELLE BELL Minister of Children, Belle Aire Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

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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 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 says.


SPENCER CLICK Children’s Pastor, Bethel Temple, Hampton, Virginia

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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 blog ( 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 going.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.


JONATHAN CLIFF Children’s Ministry Pastor, Trinity Church, Lubbock, Texas

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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, 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 churches.”


KENNY CONLEY Next Generation Pastor, Gateway Church, Austin, Texas

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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, 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.


NICK DILIBERTO Children’s Director, La Jolla Presbyterian Church, La Jolla, California

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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 than 100.Three years ago, Nick launched to provide relevant resources and to connect with other leaders. As part of the creative team at, 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 (, as well as Children’s Ministry Magazine’s preteen column.


ALLYSON EVANS Pastor and NextGen Team Leader,, Edmond, Oklahoma


As the leader of LifeKIDS at, Allyson helps develop and distribute hundreds of free resources to churches around the globe. Each day, visitors to download an average of 467 materials, from music and games to discipleship and parenting resources.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.”

Kendra Fleming.BWKENDRA FLEMING Children’s Director, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Georgia


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 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.


MATT GUEVARA KidsWorld Group Life Director, Christ Community Church, St. Charles, Illinois

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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 ( 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 sticks.


ERIC HAMP Children’s Pastor, Word of Life Christian Center, Lone Tree, Colorado


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 mission trips.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 tomorrow.


TONY KUMMER Associate Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Madison, Indiana

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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, a variety of free articles and lessons meet the many needs of children’s ministers.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 do.”

Gloria Lee 2010

GLORIA LEE Director of Christian Education, Ambassador Church, Montrose, California

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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.

Gary Lindsay

GARY LINDSAY Children’s Pastor, Irving Bible Church, Irving, Texas


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.

Sam Luce

SAM LUCE Children’s Pastor, Redeemer Church, Utica, New York

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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 (, 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 ( 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 despite me.”


GINA MCCLAIN Children’s Ministry Director, Faith Promise Church, Knoxville, Tennessee

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Not only is Gina in a new setting (having recently moved from Oklahoma’s, 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 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 challenges.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.

Anthony Prince

ANTHONY PRINCE Director of Children’s and Family Ministry, Glenkirk Church, Glendora, California

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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 University).Through his blog (, 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 Ministers’ Association.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.

Dan Scott Headshot - Group

DAN SCOTT Director of Elementary, Ada Bible Church, Ada, Michigan

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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 kids.On Twitter, Facebook, and his blog (, 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 families.

JustynSmithJUSTYN SMITH Children’s Pastor, The Church at South Las Vegas, Nevada

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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.

Brodie Swanson

BRODIE SWANSON Children’s Pastor, Elmbrook Church, Brookfield, Wisconsin


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 Milwaukee-area church.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.


DAVID WAKERLEY Children’s Pastor, Hillsong Church, Sydney, Australia

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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 (, 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 writer.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.”


CHRISTIAAN VANDENHEUVEL Pastor to Children, Cornerstone Fellowship, Livermore, California

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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, 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.


20 to Watch
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Children's Ministry Magazine

Children's Ministry Magazine is the most read magazine for people who minister to children from birth through sixth grade. We're partnering with you to make Jesus irresistible to kids.


  1. I would love to find out when the next children ministry conference will be in Houston or the woodlands?

    • Christine Yount Jones on

      We’re coming to your area this fall. You can find a workshop near you at

  2. Pingback: 20 to Watch - [Kid Inspiration]

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