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

I once 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, Hospital Visitation
10 comments on “How do you teach what a pastor is to a child?
  1. Jeff McCarty says:

    As the father of a four year old, I say “good stuff,” brother. Thanks…

  2. Great ideas. I have struggled to explain to my own children what I do. I remember, not too long ago, coming to the blunt realization that my children had no idea what I did – either for a living or as a leader in the church. All they knew was that I taught. This might be good because it means that they think of me as “Dad,” but as they get older they need to think of me also as “Pastor.” (It could be argued that “Dad” implies “Pastor.”) Anyway, thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Randal Kay says:

    Thank you! Well thought out. If you don’t mind I might “borrow” your ideas/props and of course I will give credit to where credit is do, and that is you.

  4. Aaron Wilson says:

    At the risk of straying off subject here, could I ask Brian (or any pastor or parent) how their children address their pastor? In Baptist circles, “Brother Aaron” is most common. However, my preference is “Pastor Aaron,” to both identify the role and to guard against confusion of a spiritual relationship that might not exist (i.e., I am not a brother to an unconverted child – or adult, for that matter.)

    Now, I never correct a child that calls me Bro. Aaron, but when anyone asks, I explain my preference.

    Am I being too particular here? Any thoughts?

    • Brian Croft says:

      Pastor ________ is preferred for the reasons you gave. I would not get too particular about it. I have a family who taught their kids to call me “Pastor dude.” If you knew the family, it made sense and was a term of endearment.

  5. Jeff Cagwin says:

    Thanks, Brian! I’ll share with my son’s public school first grade class next week about my job, so this is timely and appreciated!

  6. Jennifer says:

    This is great. I am working on a serving unit for my kids ministry and we are teaching the kids about all the different ways God can use you to serve in the church and in the community. This will be a great visual for the lesson on what is a pastor and how to they serve.

  7. Wondering about the symbol for our work as leaders and prophets? A shepherd staff? Maybe bincoulars for visioning. A candle?

    And then the mundane of administration – maybe a plant to tend so the plant can grow strong?

  8. Rachel says:

    Love this, I’m adding band-aids so I can give one to each child during the doctor comparison and it will be an easy reminder for kids to explain to their families what they learned and why they have it.

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