In order for a kite to fly, the string holding it must be anchored to someone or something. Without this constant anchored tension, it can’t soar. Much like a kite, children need such an anchor. Here are four ways children and family ministry leaders can help kids SOAR!
I heard it said that what children need is love and stability. You want to plan and do the best you can to pass on the torch of the faith to the next generation… but even if you don’t have all the time you want or don’t feel qualified, you can still show the children stability. They will model your stability and faithfulness.
Your witness to staying true to what you preach and teach day in and day out is a message that might be more powerful than the words you say. Almost every story I hear from people when they talk about their faith experience as a young person stems includes an individual who was constantly there. (this is one valuable argument for why a ministry leader must invest much of her time in recruiting and training the adults in the church – people who are rooted in the congregation and community)
Stability also means keeping up to date with parents. Keeping communication clear, consistent and concise so that parents and families know what to expect.
OVERFLOW WITH LOVE
Probably obvious, but we need to mention it. For kids, the memory of Christian love they experience at church will far outweigh the size of your church, how large your budget is, the style of worship you have, etc. Jesus taught that they will know we are his disciples by the way we love one another. And one hallmark of true Christian love is that we not only love those who are easy to love, but those who aren’t.
DollyMadison, deemed the most hospitable first lady in history, told her secret for making people feel welcome. “When someone arrives, I simple say, ‘finally, you’re here!’ and when they leave I always say, “you have to leave so soon?’”
We need a “you’re here at last” attitude when kids show up for our ministries. If you are unable to provide that atmosphere, find someone who can – give them the specific job of welcoming children.
There is also the aspect of love that require discipline and the hard stuff. Don’t discount it. Kids will respond to it.
ALLOW FOR EXPLORATION AND NEW EXPERIENCES
Teach them about mission and worship and give them freedom to enjoy it. Help awaken in them a desire to grow in the faith using their passions and personality that God gave them. Incorporate opportunities for them to love music, experience art in worship, sing, learn an instrument, help people, give sacrificially and be a part of worship in some way. And incorporate their worship with adults. For example, hang the kids art work in the main worship center for a special occasion. Have the adults working with children’s ministry sit among the children to sing and participate – don’t allow them to watch kids from the back. Maybe set up a family mission trip.
Jesus took risks and sent his disciples off to heal, pray, feed, and love. He gave them the opportunity to get their feet wet and try it.
RAISE THE STANDARD
Don’t be afraid to explain the truth to children. They will grasp it. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking they are just kids – help them grow in faith. Carefully and diligently correct their behavior in love. Set the standard high for discipline – right off the bat. Counterintuitively for many leaders, we must understand kids are known to have more fun and attract more kids to come join them when they are functioning in a highly disciplined setting rather than a loose setting. One phrase they tell new teachers, “don’t smile until Christmas.” This suggests that teachers need to build the high fence of discipline early in their job. Ironically, as time goes on, there is more freedom to engage with children and families. The hard part is done.
Raise the standard for what you want kids to know and how you want to church to embrace helping them walk in faith. Lift up the importance of faith walk to the children and to the adults. Examples might be making a huge deal and tradition of kids getting bibles in third grade, certificates of completion after a year of Sunday school, celebrate birthdays by sending a card, invite older kids in the group to have a special party or event for their age group, help the young ones look forward to growing older in the ministry.
Invite them to learn and experience God’s Word. Don’t be afraid to challenge them to memorize scripture, read the bible and pray out loud, etc.
I want the church to create the kind of place that kids want to come to. I want leaders to help children and families SOAR in faith and love for God. There are several factors – most of all grace – that are at work in faith formation in lives of children. These four ways mentioned here are a good place to start. They’re free and don’t require many supplies. Blessings on you as you serve the church!
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