As leaders it is our responsibility to create a life-giving atmosphere at church where it is easy for kids to make friends. This is critical. If kids to not make friends during the grade school years they will not make the jump to youth ministry. If they do not make the jump to youth ministry it is their first step away from church.
Some kids are naturally social and some are not. For example, I find that many of my home school kids have not developed their social skills yet. This is not always the case, but many times it is.
On the other hand some kids tend to be bullies when they get in groups. They will put other kids down to make themselves look cool.
Here is a strategy for creating a life-giving atmosphere in children’s church:
1) The Leaders – Identify the peer leaders in your class and get them on your side. These are the kids who have developed strong social skills. Many times these kids have already created their social groups at church. They know who their friends are and they look forward to meeting their friends at church. This is a good thing, but it can also work against pulling new kids into the circle. Ask these leader kids to help you identify the new kids and pull them in. These kids know how to be social they just need to be reminded to “not clique out”.
2) The Shy Kids – For many kids shyness is a huge problem. They are deeply afraid of rejection. Many of these kids see themselves as victims. They repeatedly say to themselves “Nobody wants to be my friend”. We can help shy kids by talking to them about how to make friends. The book of Proverbs says, “If a man wants friends he must show himself friendly.”
Here are some tips for helping shy kids make friends:
• Get your thoughts off yourself
• Are there other kids in the class who need a friend?
• Walk up and say “Hi”
• Ask questions, “What’s your favorite video game?”
• Keep asking questions till you find something in common to talk about
This may seem incredibly basic, but many kids struggle with basic social skills.
3) The Bully – Be on the alert for any kids who are bullying other kids. These are kids who say mean things. They put down other kids to make themselves look better. Pray for ‘the bully’ and ask God to allow see them through His eyes. Many times the child who is bullying is communicating thoughts he feels about himself.
You will need to confront the bully, but you need to confront them in spirit of compassion. If they think you are against them you will never win them over. Your goal is not to kick the bully out of your class. Your goal is to help them make friends too.
Here is a link to another blog with some helpful ideas about friendship: [Click Here]
What types of things do you do to help your kids make friends at church?