Brooke Barksdale serves the families and community of Marietta First United Methodist Church as the Associate Director of Children’s Ministry. She leads Wonderfully Made: Loved by God programs and co-leads the Bible study component of the annual Rock Solid 5th Grade Retreat held at Camp Glisson in Dahlonega, Georgia for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. She’s a wife, mom, daughter, friend, disciple-maker, and a great teacher.

In her own words, Brooke rocks it at “Coffee, postcards and thank you cards, engaging Bible studies for upper elementary, willing to be a whole lot of EXTRA for Jesus and food – maybe not preparing it or serving it, but definitely great at gathering around it to network and collaborate and listen and learn!”

When asked to offer her top five hacks/tips for adding EXTRA for Jesus with upper elementary disciples, she shared…

#1 Go big and fun!! They are kids – play games, do crafts, but tie in that deeper meaning.

#2 Be silly and loud and over the top in your presentation – when they see I am so sold out for Jesus that kind of joy and excitement is contagious! That excitement and contagiousness applies to adult volunteers, as well.

#3 Don’t underestimate upper elementary kids. They are dealing with some deep problems themselves so don’t think they aren’t willing to go deeper or have meatier conversations. 

#4 Provide opportunities every time you’re together for small group conversations. If you always meet in one room for large group, create smaller turn-and-talk environments. 

#5 Incorporate worship when you gather. This is the age where they begin to learn there are so many ways to give praise, thanks, and love to God Almighty! If you can have a volunteer provide live music that is awesome, but if you sing along to a CD or a YouTube video that’s great, as well. Encourage the expression of worship as singing, dancing, moving, waving arms, or just reading the words and the lyrics to yourself in your head. As a leader, if this isn’t your comfort zone, get out of it! This is where kids see the adults around them model that it’s okay to lift hands or stand still, but always be 100% in for worshipping God! 

Brooke went on to write, “I could talk more about specifics of the curriculum, but it’s your enthusiasm and how you present anything that is going to get the kids hooked and sold.” 

If you’d like to learn more, reach out to Brooke Barksdale on social media or by emailing