Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Lester David Kitchens


student discipline, disruptive behaviors, classroom management, qualitative study, content analysis, descriptive statistics, trustworthiness




The problem: undisciplined children in church settings disrupt biblical teachings and provide the impetus for other children to act inappropriately. Therefore, discipline issues must be addressed. Christian teachers have a unique responsibility to establish high moral and ethical standards in their classrooms based on God’s Word, thus, student discipline issues must be addressed for the wellbeing of all concerned.

The purpose of this Qualitative Case Study is to understand the student discipline issues experienced by teachers in child ministry programs and how they coped with these issues. Student discipline issues can be defined as incidents of disruptive behaviors exhibited by children while in attendance in child ministry classes. It is construed that control of student discipline and good classroom management practices are crucial for all who undertake the profession of teaching. Essentially, the classroom environment must be conducive for learning without unnecessary interruption, thus understanding the dilemmas experienced by child ministry teachers is paramount.

The author of this study was guided by twenty research questions in the form of a questionnaire. The questionnaires were emailed to church leaders who then assumed the responsibility for identifying and selecting available participants via convenience sampling. Fifteen respondents, i.e., eleven females and four males were selected by church leaders. The latter then emailed the completed questionnaires to the researcher who analyzed the results. This was a Qualitative Case Study and data was analyzed via Content Analysis, i.e., reoccurring respondent words in the questionnaires were coded and categorized. Data was also analyzed by Descriptive Statistics. The findings of this study revealed that disruptive behaviors cited by respondents were as follows: (1) student talking, (2) student inattentiveness, (3) disabled students acting inappropriately as determined by respondents, and (4) student lacking discipline and failing to follow the rules. Additionally, it was found that boys caused more disruptions than girls and these disruptions were viewed by teachers as minor and infrequent. It was found that teachers used a myriad of coping strategies to mitigate student disruptive behavior to include the following: (1) expecting students to be respectful, (2) requesting intervention by middle management church leaders like Deacons, Team Leaders and Children Directors, and (3) one-on-one talks with disruptive students. It was determined that the latter was the primary coping strategy. It was also found that teachers rarely consulted with the senior church hierarchy to off-set student discipline issues. It is anticipated that this research will enhance awareness as to how students behave in church settings. Furthermore, it is also hoped that church leaders will incorporate a policy to assist teachers with student disruptive behaviors and to intervene as needed.

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