“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14 NIV
I have had the distinct pleasure of serving in children’s ministry for the past four years. While there can be some moments that are less awesome than others, it is always an honor and a blessing for my wife and I to be able to spend time with our aspiring assembly of adolescent angels.
Seriously, they’re great kids.
As a leader, I have three primary responsibilities: Love God with all my heart, soul, body and mind; loving the snot out of these kids while keeping them safe and teaching them about Jesus; assisting parents in helping their children grow spiritually.
We try to do as much as we can to develop important life skills and attitudes, while keeping things interesting, engaging, and sometimes pretty darn funny.
‘Stinky sheep’ gets them EVERY time. It’s so Ba-A-A-A-D, it’s good.
We have an hour or two a week to make an impact. Parents have significantly more time and connection, and they are who we need to help us reach our kids.
Lucky for you, I just happen to have some (count ‘em 1, 2, 3, 5…) suggestions on how to do just that.
1. Read the Bible with your kids.
Key point: read WITH, not AT. No matter how smart or mature the child might be, they are not adults and may lack the skills and experience necessary to process what you are reading to them at the same level you can. By taking the time to sit down and read the Bible with them, you both gain perfect opportunities to ask questions and to discover the answers together.
2. Ask more questions
“What did you learn today?” is a good question, but it and the response can become rote. Using follow-up questions that invoke a deeper response like, “What does that mean to you?” or “Do you have any questions about that?” may help your child discuss more of what they learned or question something they don’t understand.
3. Go to service with them
Taking time to show your child what they’re doing is important to you, is H U G E. Taking the occasional Sunday to go sit with your kids in the class is a great way to show them they’re important. Plus, you can help their teachers by serving as a bouncer, bulldozer, or help teach the lesson.
4. Talk to your children’s leaders
Get to church a few minutes early and take a few minutes to talk to the teachers. Spend time playing a game with your kids, ask questions about what they’re learning, or just let your teachers know you value their time and efforts.
5. Lead by example
Impress upon kids how important what they’re learning is and be the example. Your kids watch your every move. What is important to you will be important to them. How you live out your walk with Jesus will establish the model with how they will live out theirs.
6. Tell them it’s ok to invite a friend
If you haven’t told your kids it is ok to ask their friends to come to church, they may not think they have permission. Talk to them about it, encourage (don’t force) them to ask, and set some rules for offering their friends a ride if one is needed. Make sure they get the parent’s phone number so you can connect with them ahead of time. If your church has a bus ministry, find out the routes and times and have that information available to share. You never know how an invitation to a school friend may wind up changing a family’s legacy.
7. Read the take-home material
Each week we hand out a devotional for kids and parents to go over during the week. Each week I find them some of them in the trash on my way out. Encourage your kids to bring any papers, artwork or notes to you. Then, take a moment to look it over and talk to them about it. You might find something new to do together and discover a way to keep in the loop on what they’re learning!
That’s it – that’s the list! If you’re doing any (or all) of these, you are a rock star! If you’re not, then there is no better time to start than the present!
If you have questions about how you can help, never hesitate to talk to your children’s leaders. They love making connections with parents and are always looking for ways to help kids grow in their faith. If you have suggestions of your own to share, I would love to hear them.