How do I teach what a pastor is to a child?

It has been a month of interesting speaking engagements outside my church.  So far this month I have addressed pastors, college students at U of L’s Campus Crusade for Christ, and a funeral for a man few people knew anything about.  Yet, this morning posed to be the most challenging.  I was asked to address a classroom filled with 4-6 year old children and try to explain to them what a pastor is and does. 

I accepted, not because I felt I could do this well (far from it), but the challenge of it intrigued me.  How do you teach a group of 4-6 year old kids what a pastor is and does?  This is something any pastor should be able to do, so pastor, how would you go about this?  Below, represents my efforts to explain a pastor’s task in the form of props I brought with me to class for the kids to see, touch, and ask questions.

Bible – A pastor’s task is to read, study, and teach God’s Word to God’s people.  It is also to be that which dictates all that a pastor believes, lives by, and does to care for others.

Cross – A cross is the simplest visual to understand the gospel of that which a pastor preaches and equips the church.  It is also the most obvious way to talk about Jesus and his person and work in a way for children to understand.

Picture of prayer – A pastor is to be dedicated to prayer and the ministry of the Word.  The easiest way to portray prayer to children seemed to be a drawing I brought that showed a man on his knees with folded hands praying to God.  A pastor is specifically to be dedicated to pray for his family and the people in his local church.

Family Picture – My role as a pastor is to first shepherd my wife and children before I focus on anyone in my church.  Their souls have been entrusted to me in the same way as my congregation has been by God.  This is so important that if I fail in this task, I am disqualified from being a pastor.

Stethoscope – Most kids would recognize a stethoscope as that which a doctor uses to care for his patients.  A pastor is similar to a doctor in 2 ways.  First, we also go to the hospital to visit people who are sick.  Secondly, like a doctor we care for sick people.  However, as doctors care for the physically ill, we care for those who are spiritually ill whose hearts need healing from sin.

Coffee Mug – I know many of you might take issue with this one, but much of what I do as a pastor revolves around shepherding the flock under the oversight of the heavenly gift of “coffee.”  Whether it is a pot of coffee that gets put on when someone comes over to the house, a one-on-one discipleship meeting conducted over a cup of coffee, or important uninterrupted sermon writing or counseling that takes place at a local Starbucks, much of a pastor’s work (at least mine) often times revolves around coffee, tea, hot chocolate (my 6 year old’s contribution) or some other hospitable drink of choice (which is what the mug ultimately represents).

I hope this acts as a guide for you to come up with your own way to communicate the important role of a pastor to children and why even these little ones should be thankful if they have a faithful pastor in their life.  Whatever version of this teaching you create…try it out on your token 6-year-old at home as I did.

What props would you add to the list and why?

Posted in Home and Family, Training for Ministry
9 comments on “How do I teach what a pastor is to a child?
  1. Jeff Downs says:


    Given your love for coffee, let me recommend you begin roasting your own coffee beans. Use a Fresh Roaster Plus and purchase some green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s or other distributor(s). This will enhance your love for coffee, although in the end, you may become a coffee snob. I’ll drink anyone coffee, but roasting your own is simply the best! 🙂

  2. Beth says:

    Well, for you, you could also add a guitar, a piano, and a microphone, to show the kids since you are also a very gifted musician (can your sister brag on you?) and since you lead your congregation in the singing of hymns too 🙂 Your 4-year old niece apparently thinks you’re a rock-star…because you have a guitar when you sing Man of Sorrows ;).

  3. Brian – Fantastic post. Print-worthy. I just said to someone today that I’ve heard someone say before, “if you can’t teach something to a small child, you probably don’t understand it very well”.

    Thank you, brother!


  4. Ron Jung says:

    I enjoy your blog very much and drop by at least a couple times a month.

    I would add a towel and chalice (baptism and communion).

  5. AE says:

    Thoughtful post.

    If we’re leading in family worship, we can tell the children that the pastor leads all the families of the church in worship.

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