The Reach
Hurting Kids

Children's Ministry Trauma Training

Train your own team with our research-based curriculum!

Childhood trauma is on the rise, and it’s having a devastating effect on children’s mental health. From 2000 to 2020, suicide attempts by children aged 10 to 14 increased 450%. During COVID-19, childhood anxiety and depression doubled. Globally, 1 out of 5 kids now has severe anxiety, and 1 out of 4 is clinically depressed. There’s no way around it. To be relevant in a broken world, we need to know how to reach hurting kids.

That’s why we created the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop, an engaging, evidence-based curriculum that allows you to teach your own team the principles of trauma-informed children’s ministry. Developed through a generous grant from the Louisville Institute, our curriculum includes everything you need to put on a professional-quality trauma workshop for your staff and volunteers.

Through this workshop, your team will learn how trauma affects the kids they love and what they can do to help hurting kids heal and succeed at church.

What makes this workshop unique?

The Reach Hurting Kids Workshop is a high-quality trauma training designed specifically for children’s ministries. We use language that a non-expert can understand, all the examples have to do with children’s ministry (including lots of real-life examples from actual churches), and all the tips and strategies are things that you can actually use in church.

Does the workshop really work?

Absolutely! In 2022, researchers at California Baptist University conducted a study evaluating the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop in 16 churches. Participants had a significantly better understanding of trauma and were statistically more likely to respond supportively to problem behaviors. When we followed up a couple months later, almost everyone had specific stories about how the workshop improved their ministry.

Do I need any special training to lead the workshop?

Nope. We give you the videos, the worksheets, and the activity instructions. All you have to do is follow the manual. It’s just like the children’s ministry curriculum you’re used to. If you can lead a VBS, you can lead the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop.

Wouldn’t it be better to bring in a professional?

Not necessarily. In our research study, we compared workshops that were led by a trauma expert with workshops led by a children’s pastor. Both groups used our curriculum. It turned out that the pastor-led workshops were about 90% as effective as the expert-led workshops. In other words, doing it yourself is almost as good, and it is way less expensive than hiring someone to come to your church.

How long is the workshop? My volunteers don’t have all day.

The workshop is divided into four modules. Each module is designed to take about 75 minutes. We recommend keeping your team after church, providing lunch, and then going through one module. (The workshop is so engaging that the time just flies by.) Then do another module about three months later. That’ll give each module time to sink in, and it won’t feel overwhelming.

Reach Hurting Kids Workshop

Modules 1-4

Module 1

How Trauma Affects the Kids We Love and What to Do About It

From abuse, neglect, and divorce to lockdowns, social isolation, and civil unrest, childhood trauma is on the rise. In Module 1 of the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop, your team will learn how trauma touches the children in your ministry and what many churches get wrong when it comes to teaching and disciplining hurting kids. Make sense of the most frustrating, confusing, and heartbreaking child behaviors, and discover practical, research-based strategies to help children who have experienced trauma heal and succeed at church.

Module 2

Discipline: Obstacle or Opportunity

Traditional approaches to discipline view misbehavior as an obstacle to ministry. God has important work to do, but now it can’t happen because Dylan is distracting the group. But did you know that misbehavior can actually help your ministry? Module 2 of the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop teaches your team how to use discipline problems as an opportunity to create a more supportive ministry environment, strengthen relationships, and minister to those hurting kids who express their pain through their behavior.

Module 3

Reaching and Teaching Hurting Kids

Childhood trauma affects the brain in ways that make it difficult for kids to control their minds, bodies, and emotions. They tend to get in trouble and do poorly in school. But it doesn’t have to be that way at church. In Module 3 of the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop, your team will learn how to recognize the impact of trauma in the learning environment, utilize teaching time as a unique opportunity for ministry, and integrate teaching strategies that reduce behavior problems, increase engagement, and give struggling kids a chance to succeed.

Module 4

Creating a Life-Changing Small Group

Many children have no safe place to talk about their lives, share their feelings, or receive prayer and encouragement. A weekly small group can change a child’s life by meeting these critical needs. In Module 4 of the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop, your team will distinguish the features and benefits of a life-changing small group, diagram a five-point strategy for leading a life-changing small group, and demonstrate a brief check-in routine that fosters intimacy, healing, and growth within a community of faith.

Workshop Bundles

The Reach Hurting Kids Workshop modules can be purchased individually or in bundles at a discounted price.

Get more information

Learn more about the Reach Hurting Kids Workshop!

Who created the workshop?

The Reach Hurting Kids Workshop was developed by Robert Crosby, Ph.D., a research psychologist with over 25 years of children’s ministry experience, Lori Crosby, MFT, RPT-S, a registered play therapist who specializes in treating childhood trauma, Erin Smith, Ph.D., a cognitive developmental psychologist, instructional design expert Torria Davis, Ph.D, and children’s pastor Kayla Smith. Robert and Lori Crosby are co-authors of Trauma-Informed Children’s Ministry: A Practical Guide to Reaching Hurting Kids.

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