I had the privilege of reading Mark Harper’s The Red Book before it was released, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and takeaways with you. There are forty-five chapters in this book which would normally sound like a really long read, but that’s not the case. Each chapter is only 3-6 pages long, and Mark Harper focuses on one important subject in each chapter. He gives practical advice on timeless issues we deal with in ministry on a regular basis.

I won’t list all 45 topics, but some of my favorites include: 

Chapter 1: “Begin with the End in Mind”

Chapter 7: “How to Get Your Fifth-Grade Boys to Worship”

Chapter 13: “What Is the Most Important Thing I Can Do to Make Sure My Kids Stay in Church When They Turn Eighteen?”

Chapter 16: “Ten Steps for Preaching to Kids”

Chapter 20: “Building Your Team”

Chapter 26: “Boundaries in Ministry”

Chapter 32: “Training Volunteers in the 21st Century”

Chapter 34: “Family Ministry”

Chapter 36: “Parent Weekend”

Chapter 44: “7 Things Pastors Hate”

I really loved almost every sentence written in this book. I’m not even exaggerating. I highlighted so much of the book that certain pages looked like a coloring book! It was tough for me to narrow my takeaways down, but here are my biggest highlights from the book.


1. We need to begin our ministry to kids with the end in mind.

Yes, this takeaway is from the very first chapter of the book. The entire book would be worth buying if you only read the first chapter. Mark lists eleven skills he wants kids to have when leaving his ministry. When I read this chapter, I knew that I wanted to implement that idea in my kid’s ministry right away! I adapted his list to make it fit the kids in my ministry and rolled it out as the Ministry Takeaways for the 6th graders who leave my ministry at the first Parent Meeting this year. I had several parents comment on that being their favorite part of the meeting, and they loved knowing that I have a vision for where the ministry is heading in the future. Now, I have ten ministry takeaways to build my events and curriculum around.

2. Aim your worship at the oldest kids in the room.

This is a concept I have been using for a while now, and it really should be applied to your entire ministry. The oldest kids in the room are the leaders of the group whether you like it or not. If you lose them, you lose everyone. Mark gives a list of nine practical ideas to accomplish a “good worship service”, and I completely agree with him. Some of his ideas include using male and female worship leaders, dropping the kiddie songs, making sure everyone participates (including leaders), and doing regular teaching on worship.

3. Family ministry is important, but will look different for every church.

Family ministry is a big buzz phrase right now. Many churches are opting for hiring a Family Pastor in addition to or instead of a Children’s Pastor, but you don’t have to have a Family Ministry Pastor or be a large church to accomplish a healthy family ministry in your church. Mark shares some of his strategies for reaching the entire family no matter what the size of your ministry is. You can talk to your pastor about doing a synchronized sermon series, send home resources/take-home pages, hold family services/events, and communicate regularly with the parents of kids in your ministry. My favorite idea, that you can read more about in Chapter 36, is having Parent Weekends where you invite the parents to come to kid’s service for the morning. I am planning three weekends in September to invite parents of different grades to come hang out with us in kid’s church. I look forward to seeing the results of implementing this idea in my ministry.

The Red Book is an amazing addition to the library of any Children’s Pastor or ministry leader. I have read most of the children’s ministry books available, and there were still a ton of new takeaways for me from this book. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and I couldn’t put it down. It is practical, timeless, and I’m already implementing many of the tips found in this book in my ministry and sharing them with the volunteers and families in my ministry. Pick up The Red Book and read it this week!

I’m giving away 5 free books to kidmin leaders this week! All you have to do to enter is comment on this post! Winners will be announced Monday, February 6th. 

The Red Book Winners

  • Anita Rutherfor
  • Dan Vanderbilt
  • Jeff Childs
  • Frank Tan
  • Joe Mally

Congratulations to the winners! Please email me at iam@kidmincorinne.com with your full name and email address.