You have kids from every conceivable background in your ministry, as do I. They come from all types of home-environments, faith backgrounds, and family dynamics. Likewise, they have a wide variety things they need from church. They all need to hear about Jesus’ love, the authority of scripture, the path of spiritual maturity, but outside of these cornerstone needs, your students may need wildly different things from their church home.
For all of your kids, however, there is a great need to simply be known. Church is an opportunity to reinforce their intrinsic value, to be taught how significant they are to God, and to identify and celebrate their gifts. Being known is powerful to children, and it’s simple to pull off. Here are some ways that you can remind your kids that their unique personalities and gifts are known and celebrated.
Remember their names. So simple, but it goes so far. I actually heard from a parents a few weeks back they when they visited our church for the second time, all four of their kids had their names remembered, and that stood out to them big time. Make this a priority, especially among small-group leaders. If kids have someone who can walk up and say “hi ______! How was your week?”, it communicates that they are in a place where they are safe and significant.
Celebrate their talents. If you have the opportunity to let kids worship with you, do it. At the same time, celebrate kids who memorize verses well, do well in sports, or achieve their goals in school. Anytime you notice and celebrate with a child, you communicate that their unique gifts matter, and also that God made them unique and is proud of His creation.
Acknowledge their struggles. As a minister you’ll hear about more than your share of struggles and pain. Go out of your way to remember them, so that you can follow up later. This takes extra work and intentionality, but the impact is huge. When someone shares their difficulty with you, and you follow up in a timely manner without being prompted, it communicates that they are loved and supported. Even more important, it’s a moment that shows people that the body of Christ really does offer love and support when it’s needed.
As Christians, we have the indescribable privilege of being known and loved by the all-powerful God. We also get the change to mirror that to our students. Do whatever you can to remind them that they are known by you, because it opens the door to reminding them that they are known and loved even more by their Creator!