Every week I see many kids enter our facility for kids Church. Every child is different, and these differences are clearly visible even as kids walk into the room. For a number of our kids they have long left their parents behind as they have dashed as fast as they could to get to service. Some mosey on into the room cautiously, and others have to be surgically removed from their parent’s waist.
Of course these traits continue during our service too. Many are engaged in the games, while some hold back. Many are excited about worship, while others are closed off. Also many are receptive to the message, but some seem immune from it.
I tend to find that those kids who have connected with the leaders, are much more comfortable through our services. They are engaged, excited, more obedient and more likely to respond to the message.
I have long believed that Pastoral ministry is the most effective way to open kid’s hearts to the Gospel. Many kids come to Church with their barriers up, especially those who have been hurt, rejected and broken by those they love. Many kids are shy, apprehensive and unsure in unfamiliar surroundings; this often causes them to be withdrawn, closed off and protective.
In Kidmin it is important that we don’t just allow kids to sit through our service in this withdrawn state, but that we do all we can to coax them out of it through Pastoral ministry. Here are some ways we can improve our pastoral ministry to kids:-
Create a Welcome team - Make sure someone is there to meet kids as they enter your room. Give them high fives and tell kids how great it is to have them there. They can also explain how your service runs to first time guests.
Have leaders mingle with Kids - During free time while kids arrive, train your leaders to ask kids about their week and play games with them.
Learn kids names - Kids feel comfortable around people who KNOW them…be sure to have your leaders know the kids names and to use their names as often as they can!
Have leaders sit with kids - Don’t allow your leaders to sit separately from your kids! If kids are on the floor, make leaders sit on the floor. Have leaders participate in worship and put kids at ease during the service by sitting with them.
Be Transparent in your Teaching - Kids don’t just feel at ease when you get to know them, but when they get to know you. When we are transparent about the struggles in our lives and we share stories from our childhood and walk with God, then it helps kids to open up about their own lives.
Visit Schools - As your leaders develop relationship with kids, have them visit the schools! Be sure to communicate this with parents on a Sunday and get them to give permission to the schools. Kids love to have lunch with leaders….make sure you take a cool treat with you to share with them and their friends!
When we make an effort to care for kids as they join our ministry, we help them to feel comfortable to drop their ‘barriers’ at church. They will open up to leaders about their deepest struggles, they will begin to apply the teaching to their lives and they will allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in their lives.