Get to Know the Kids in Your Ministry

FISH for What Makes a Kid Unique, and You’ll Hook Them!

We spend much of our time teaching large groups — but those groups are made of individual kids, and each of them is different and unique. When we take the time to get to know our children, we gain insights that will empower and enlighten our large group teaching and help us connect with our students better.

But getting kids to talk can be a challenge! “Yeah,” “Nah” or “Idunno,” seem to be kids’ go-to answers when we ask questions. The key to getting kids to talk is to avoid any question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No.” Use phrases like, “Why do you think…?”

One secret is to get kids talking about themselves. Years ago, I came up with a mental tool I use to “F.I.S.H.” for information from a child. The letters of the word FISH remind me of four key categories I can go through in my mind as I chat with a child. Using the acronym “F.I.S.H.” you can learn a lot about a child, his world, and how to better minister to him.

Ask about:

FAMILY “Tell me about your family.” Family obviously includes parents or guardians as well as siblings — but for kids, family includes any pets too. By asking about family, you’ll learn when kids are dealing with divorce, in a single-parent home, or facing other challenges.

INTERESTS “What do you like to do in your free time?” You don’t need to use the word “interests” with the child, but ask questions that will help you discover what they are into. “What’s your favorite thing to do after school or on the weekend?” or “If you could spend a whole day doing something, what would it be?”

SCHOOL “What is your favorite subject in school?” School is a big part of a child’s life. Don’t assume every kid hates school; many do not. If they answer “Recess,” that’s fine, just explore what they do during recess. You certainly can ask, “What is the toughest part of school?” and then offer to pray for them about it. They may mention math, but they also might mention social challenges they are facing.

HOBBIES “Do you have a hobby?” A hobby is simply an interest that is actively pursued. A child may collect something, play an instrument or sport, or be developing a unique skill. Even a common answer like “Video games” can be probed a little deeper to find out what their favorite game is and why they find it challenging. If they like Minecraft, they may enjoy building. If they say Roblox, they may enjoy challenges or a sense of community.


Using good questions can help us see the uniqueness of each and every child hidden in the midst of the large groups we stand before. Be sure to encourage and esteem your kids as you learn more about them. As you discover more about your students, you not only learn more about what makes each child unique, but you also gain insight into the culture of kids that will help you better understand your audience. And that’s always a good thing!

When you mention those interests in your teaching, without calling out any child by name, you draw your students in as they see you understand them and their world. You’ll see a marked increase in your effectiveness when you connect not only with your audience, but with the kids within your audience!

You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 38

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