At the start of my ministry to children I could not think past the next Sunday.
I spent the entire first year going from service to service.
One Saturday, I was begging God for a sermon and I felt like He said to me.
“All you have is six years to prepare your kids for adolescence.”
Why is that important?
Because, somewhere during their teen years their faith will be challenged. Your kids will start to ask questions like:
- “Is God real?”
- “Do I just believe in God because my parents do?”
I started to see “the end” as graduating the kids to youth ministry, but really that is not the end. I want to see the kids graduate into youth ministry, but I also want to see them stay in youth ministry.
After graduating from high school I want to see them make the jump to the sanctuary. For me “the end” is that the kids in my class grow up in church and stay in church when they become adults.
I like something that Dr. Phil says. “We are not raising kids. We are raising adults.”
Here are some questions we need to ask ourselves:
- What can I do to prepare the kids for their teen years?
- What can I do to insure that kids stay in church when they become adults?
Here are some of the adjustments that we made when we began to think with the end in mind.
1. We get kids and teens involved in the ministry.
I have used kids and teens to lead worship, puppets, drama, lead small groups and teach.
Many churches will put age limits in kids serving. This is a huge mistake.
After thirty plus years of kids ministry I have observed that 60% of kids that serve in a ministry stay in the church when they become adults.
2. We started small groups to help kids make friends at church.
Chances are you are not moving on to the youth ministry, but their peers are graduating to the youth ministry and teenagers want to hang with their peers.
If kids do not make friends at church during the grade school years they will not make the jump to youth ministry.
3. We stopped telling Bible stories and started reading the Bible.
I found out that some of our kids were graduating to youth ministry and had never cracked a Bible. They knew the Bible Stories, but had never read them for themselves.
We do this during small group time.
4. I work hard at building a good relationship with our youth pastor.
I invite the youth pastor to teach in one of our services at least once a year. In the summer we do special activities with our 4th and 5th graders and invite the youth pastor to come with.
I don’t have all the answers, but these are some changes we made and have found to be helpful.
What types of things do you do to help your kids make the jump to youth ministry?