4 words that could change a kid's eternity
Many years ago, when I was on the KidMin team at Willow Creek, I had the opportunity to teach a number of breakout sessions at the Promiseland Conference. After one of those sessions, an older man (maybe 70 years or so) approached me and through teary eyes, shared a story that I still think about often. He said that when he was kid, he had behavior problems--at school, at home, and especially at church. He hated going to church and made no secret of it. Almost every weekend, during Sunday School, his teacher had to pull him aside to have a stern talk with him. Sometimes, the disruption was so bad that he was asked to leave. Then something happened. One Sunday, he and his family weren't able to attend church. He could only imagine how excited his Sunday School teacher must have been to have a weekend off from him. That's why he was shocked when later that same week, he got a card in the mail. It was from his Sunday School teacher. The card simply read, "I really missed you!" He couldn't believe it. He would have thought it was sent to him by mistake, except it had his name and address on it. And then something profound occurred to him for the first time, "Maybe she really likes having me there. Maybe she really wants me there." The next Sunday, he and his family were back at church, but things were different this time. He kind of wanted to be there. His behavior was different too. Although he hadn't pulled a total 180, he was more attentive and less disruptive. And for the first time he began really hearing the message of Jesus. More than that, he began to experience the message of Jesus through the love and grace of his teacher. And before long, that message penetrated his heart, changed his life, and brought him into a saving relationship with Jesus! Have you ever used those words with a kid in your children's ministry? Have you ever told them, "I really missed you," when they were gone? Those words can have a profound impact on any kid, but especially the tough ones. Especially the ones who question if they're loved or welcomed. Those words say to a kid, "You belong here and when you're gone, it's like something special is missing." But they don't have to miss a week for you to show them how welcomed they are. Here are 4 more words that you can use any time: "I'm glad you're here!" Can you imagine what those words mean to a kid who doesn't feel noticed or important, a kid who wonders if they've worn out their welcome? It says to them, "Your presence brings me joy." For just a moment, think of a kid (or kids) in your ministry who could really use these words in their life. Imagine what kind of impact these words could have on them. Now give it a try! Who knows, these might be the words they need to hear before they can hear anything else. These might be the words that pave the way to a relationship with the Savior who misses them when they're gone and who feels great joy when they return!