PHASE Project


We define PHASE as a timeframe in a kid's life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.

The PHASE project includes hundreds of hours of research. The authors of the PHASE project have met with over a dozen licensed professional counselors, surveyed 250 state teachers of the year, dialogued with hundreds of age-group ministry staff, and collaborated with 13 national leaders and authors with countless hours of combined experience working with age-group ministries.

The result? A myriad of resources, including a series of short guides for parents and small group leaders, digital training tools, video elements, and graphic summaries.

The goal is to summarize and simplify an overwhelming amount of research related to child development so the average leader and parent can understand kids better.

A parent has 936 weeks between a child's birth and graduation. We don't want you to miss what's happening during the critical phases of growing up.

At the heart of this initiative is one primary concern: too many kids grow up and miss experiencing God's unconditional love and forgiveness.

Some miss it even though they grow up inside the church.
Others miss it because they grow up outside the church.
But we think they miss it because we missed something.

Maybe we missed...

EMBRACING them physically as toddlers when they were yearning to know they were safe and loved.
ENGAGING their imagination as second graders so they could discover how God's story intersected with their story.
AFFIRMING their worth as they transitioned through puberty and middle school toward increasingly challenging questions.
MOBILIZING them to serve in high school, so they walked away never experiencing what God can do through them.

At some point every kid will own their own





and Future.

Kids are changing fast, and we don't want to miss anything! The PHASE Event is to help parents make the most of the phase their child is in right now.


Preschool is a world of action and heightened emotion. Think of it as a training ground for middle school - except they don't have as many words to express their emotions yet. That's why you have to EMBRACE their physical needs. Preschoolers are primarily motivated by safety. So if you try and motivate a preschooler with fear, it may work against their primary motive and lead to mistrust and deception. But when you guide them with love, you give a preschooler consistent boundaries in a loving relationship. Then you influence them to trust and respond with obedience to the one who keeps them safe.


Elementary school is the season of discovering how the world works and how to have fun in it. Kids want to laugh and play and learn and connect. That's why you have to ENGAGE their interests. Elementary-age kids are primarily motivated by fun. So if you try to motivate kids with too many restrictive rules, it may work against their primary motive and drive them to find enjoyment somewhere else. But when you guide them with love, you introduce transferable principles that will help them win in life and friendship. Then you influence them to make wiser choices and treat others with kindness.


Middle School can be impulsive and intense. Whatever they feel they feel with passion - even if they may change their mind tomorrow. They have a unique blend of confidence and insecurity unlike any other phase. So you have to AFFIRM their personal journey. Middle schoolers are primarily motivated by acceptance. If you try to motivate a preteen through shame or embarrassment, it may work against their primary motive and lead to defiant and defensive behavior. But when you respond to them in a loving manner, you learn to listen more often, encourage more specifically, and guide more patiently. Then you influence them to stop and think rationally before they respond in the moment.


High School is a time to test the limits. They are ready for new experiences and desire greater independence from authority. That's why you have to MOBILIZE their potential. High school students are motivated by freedom. If you try to motivate a 17-year-old through excessive limits, it may work against their basic motive and incite frustration and rebellion. But when you guide them with love, you collaborate on boundaries and give high school students opportunities to prove they can be trusted. Then you influence them to make responsible decisions and expand their opportunities.


  • Learn about each phase and what’s unique about it.
  • See timelines of how kids change over time through the phases.
  • Hear the questions your child is asking at each phase (even if they’re not saying it).
  • Understand what motivates them and how you can respond.
  • Get resources to help you make the most of your child’s phase.
  • Have a lot of fun and connect with parents who have kids in the same phase as yours.
  • It’s Just a Phase will help you understand your child more and equip you to parent them where they are now. In addition, you can be prepared for when it all changes (again) when what they want and need is different.