Why Love First?

Every gathering with children should be meaningful – both for children and  teachers – and aim to have a positive impact on the life of children, families, and the church community.

  • fosters intergenerational relationships and service,
  • empowers and encourages lay leadership,
  • acknowledges children as ministers whose work can relieve the suffering of others, and
  • focuses on biblical faith.

Love First is not a curriculum, but a different approach to children’s ministry. Love First engages the whole church, not just the children. It aims to help parents raise the loving and compassionate children they mean to raise.

We believe that children’s ministers are – first and foremost – ministers and that their primary job is to build relationships of love and caring among the children and people in the congregations they serve. 

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

Statement of Theology

We believe that God is love, and that love is a complicated thing in our broken world, and that Jesus shows us how to live in God’s love, because Jesus is God’s love come to life. We build our program around the central teachings of and stories about Jesus, and around the threefold summary of love that Jesus taught us: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. We believe God loves everyone, without exception, and that our responsibility as friends and followers of Jesus is to learn to do the same, in the way that Jesus did.

Consequently, Love First is:

Simple and Meaningful

Each week we talk about love: loving self, loving neighbor and loving God. This makes it easy for children (even the sporadic attendees) to understand our purpose for gathering, and it keeps parents in the loop. Each week, parents can simply ask, “Who did you talk about loving today?”

Love First was designed to address the needs of today’s children, teachers, parents, and entire church communities. We begin with an age-appropriate bible story and find ways to make it come alive in children’s lives today. We do that by pairing it with current events, contemporary literature and media. Our aim is to make children’s faith come alive outside of Sunday morning.


Relying heavily on research from The Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Love First strives to foster empathy and compassion in children by developing a practice of caring for others. We commit to being a place where children and their families can practice being compassionate in a community that values love and compassion.

For the Whole Church

Love First believes we are the people our children need, that they don’t need a particular teacher or curriculum. They need grown ups who love and trust them, and they need to love and trust these adults. The most important thing we do each week is develop a relationship between adults in our pews and children in our Sunday school rooms.

Intergenerational reading at Christ Church Parish Plymouth, MA

What Church Educators are Saying

I commend this book to anyone who is in charge of a children’s program at a church, for clergy looking to make meaningful changes in programs, and for parents who are wondering how church can help in the process of raising loving children.

Amy Cook, Episcopal Diocese of California
Pilot Site #3 Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tuscon, AZ

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