“We can’t expect kids and teenagers to fall in love with the church and to fall in love with Christ simply because we tell them to or teach them to…” – Reggie Joiner
If a picture is worth a thousand words then an experience must be worth a million. If you are interviewing for a new job chances are that the person interviewing you is going to be way more interested in what you have done than what you know. A person’s experiences in life can define who they are. What a person has experienced can shape how they approach life and the decisions that they make. It can even help them determine their career or whom they choose as a spouse.
This is the reason I am always confused when I see a children’s ministry or a student ministry that only gives kids and families a place to go instead of a place to BE. The reality is that kids will never feel significant in your church until we give them something to do. We can talk about it and we can teach it but until they do something significant they will never truly understand the impact of their role in God’s story. We need to do the hard work to invite them into understanding what it means to be the church rather than it just being somewhere that they go to.
Think about your own life. As you stepped into your first ministry role my guess is that what you thought it was going to be like and what it actually was like were a little different, right? You didn’t know the true weight and reality of what ministry was like until you had the opportunity to step into it and experience it firsthand. This is how our kids are. We can’t simply teach them in classes inside the walls of our churches and expect them to live a life on fire for God after they move away to college. We need to provide them opportunities to experience what it is like to serve God before they leave our oversight and protection.
Here are a couple thoughts as you consider leveraging influence through experience with the kids in your church.
Instead of measuring your ministry by how many come, consider measuring it by how many are serving. Do we really expect kids to embrace the story of the Gospel if they never experience the mission of the Gospel? The truth here is that kids who serve have a different understanding of their faith. That understanding changes everything. When you don’t give students an opportunity to serve, you are unknowingly sabotaging their faith. Create opportunities for kids and students to serve inside your church. When you do this they will experience the mission of the Gospel, and it will change them for good.
Remember that everyone’s heart gravitates toward whatever offers adventure and significance. What story are you offering the kids and students in your church to be a part of? Is it a story of importance and purpose that is connected to a greater mission for good or is it a story where they come and sit in a chair and simply hear about God rather than having an opportunity to actually experience it? Never forget that every time we come into contact with the kids in our church we have an opportunity to invite them into a better story that has its root and its foundation in the Gospel message. A person will always gravitate to the better story of adventure and significance. If you find that kids aren’t connecting to the story you provide then maybe it is time to rewrite it.
No matter what, though, the kids and students in your church will never understand that story you have for them if you don’t invite them to be a part of the mission.
Invite them not just to know about the church, invite them to be the church.
For more information on leveraging influence, check out Orange Essentials.