How do we best love our kids? As ministers or volunteers serving children, most of the “kids” that we claim are not actually our own. They are the children across our congregations that we have claimed as ours. We advocate for them, celebrate them and cheer them on from the sidelines.
As a kids’ ministry volunteer, I too am wondering how to best love our kids when we, as a local body of believers, are not able to be in the same place together. This is an added challenge in a time when there are so many obstacles to loving kids in our churches. The solution to this challenge is to continue our relationships with them. It will just look a little different. We still have the amazing opportunity to share the truth of the gospel with children.
Here are three areas where we can excel in our current reality, or when we are able to worship together again.
Sharing the good news that Jesus loves us, lived and died for each and every one of us is the BEST way we can love children.
Even though we cannot be with the children in our church, they are more available to us in other ways — simply because most of their activities have been removed from the calendar. Activities that are usually dividing their attention have been canceled. We have the chance to hold their undivided attention as we proclaim the gospel to them in new ways.
Children long to be in relationships with other people. They want to feel seen, known and acknowledged. This means getting on their level when playing — putting away any distractions and seeing the world through their eys.
Stay focused on the conversation they want to have (even when you have no idea what they are actually talking about). Pokémon characters remain a mystery, but when children bring them to class, acknowledge that these are something they see as valuable.
When possible, attend baseball games, cheer competitions, academic meets or whatever activity the children in your local church are involved in. Children, like adults, grow healthy relationships over time.
Children need to feel that they are in a safe environment. When they feel safe, children will be able to relax, be themselves and hear what you have to say to them. Creating a safe environment builds opportunities to share the gospel with kids. Children feel loved when they feel safe.
Children love so freely and completely; they love without wanting anything in return. Those of us in the church have the chance to show them the love of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for each of us. Jesus’ love is the best love we can show them. And we have the opportunity to teach and encourage them to love Him back.
Rochell Goff is director of children’s ministry for Crossings.