“If you knew kids and students would be more engaged with your message if you packaged it differently, would you?” – Reggie Joiner
You have about 40 hours a year . . . that’s it. After the sick days and vacation time, the kids and students who come to your church will have about 40 hours to hear you present to them the most important, life-changing, and essential message that they will ever hear. Those same kids will spend about 10 times that, 400 hours a year on video games. Upwards of 500 hours a year could be spent on homework. This is why I often implore children’s pastors and student pastors to never take a “break” for their ministry. Don’t take a summer off, a month off, or even do a movie service. It is during the precious 40 hours that you have been entrusted with. Be intentional and strategic. Work hard to avoid wasting the hours you have been given with those kids and students!
How can we take that 40 hours a year that we have been given and make them the most impactful and sticky truths that they will ever hear? As leaders in the church it is our job to make sure the messages that we teach during those 40 hours are taught in a way that the next generation hears it.
We should have three goals when it comes to engaging kids and students with the life-changing message of the Gospel. These three things will help connect every child to who Christ is and how He can be a part of their life.
- Incite Wonder: We want the kids that we serve to truly understand God’s story. They need to know about His promises, faithfulness and deep love for us!
- Provoke Discovery: Kids need to understand how God fits into their story. Through large-group and small-group experiences they can go on a journey to discover who they are and how God would have them live their life.
- Fuel Passion: As they grow in understanding of God’s story and how it relates to us they will begin to understand how God’s love extends to all of us. They will develop a passion to reach out to others and show them the love of Christ.
Sounds simple but it doesn’t always work out that way when we put together our strategy and message to reach the kids and students we have been entrusted with. There is a lot of information in Scripture! We realize very quickly that we need to prioritize between information that is important and information that is MOST important. After all, with only 40 hours a year to unpack timeless truths we are facing a challenge of epic proportions!
In times like this it is important to remember that just because all Scripture is equally inspired doesn’t mean that all Scripture is equally important. It is also important to recognize that all Scripture is not equally important for every stage of life.
We need to pick out the truths about the story and character of God that will allow us to do one thing.
Say less more often so EVERYONE will know what REALLY MATTERS.
What are the most important things you want kids and students to know before they leave your area of ministry? Teach those things as often as you possibly can. If you can do this then every child and student will know what really matters.
But you can’t just say the same thing over and over again . . . it’s just not that easy! You must be constantly working to refine the message so your kids and students hear it in new and creative ways.
So as you strategically work to refine the message so they know what really matters here are four thoughts on how you can accomplish the most inside the 40 hours you have been given.
1. Be SELECTIVE about what you say and when you say it: What messages matter most to your audience and when is the optimal time to teach it so it resonates with them the best?
2. Be STRATEGIC about how often you say it: If it is important, you will need to say it more than once. How many times a year do you need to communicate this truth? When are the best times of year to do that?
3. Be INTENTIONAL about who else says it: The message should be the same in your large groups, small groups and around the dinner table with families. If you have a midweek service does it compliment the truths taught during the weekend or does it compete with it. Be intentional about making sure everyone with influence in kids’ lives has access to the message so it can be repeated.
4. Be CREATIVE about how you say it: Creativity makes the message memorable for kids and students. Words, pictures, videos, props all can be tools to help make the messages you are giving be more memorable for them. Always strive to be creative in your presentation so the point doesn’t get lost.
Spend your 40 hours wisely and laser-focused so everyone will know what really matters most!