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  • stephwoodrome

How To Reach The TOUGHEST Kids

Long ago, after speaking at a conference, a 70 year old gentleman approached me and told me a story I'll never forget.

He told me, "When I was a young boy, I was one tough cookie!"

That's old-man speak for "problem child."

Along with every other person of authority, he defied his Sunday School teacher any chance he got. If she said left, he went right. If she said up, he went down.

One Sunday, though, he and his family were out of town for the weekend and unable to attend church. "While I was gone, I kept thinking about how happy she was going to be when I didn't show up," he said. "I thought I was doing her a favor by not being there."

Which is why he was SHOCKED when a letter arrived in the mail that week!

It was from his Sunday School teacher and, among other kind things, it said, "I missed you this past Sunday and look forward to seeing you again."

He literally COULD NOT believe it.

He double checked the name and address on the envelope to see if he had received it by mistake, but sure enough, it was intended for him. But how? Had she lost her mind?

He didn't know why at the time, but over the course of that week something changed in him, and when he showed up at church the next Sunday he went straight to his Sunday School teacher and looked at her mutely with a big cheesy grin as if to say, "I'm here!" He told me, "I wasn't an angel that week, but I tried harder than ever. And I was a lot better."

And over the course of the following month, something else changed too...

Although it had been taught every Sunday, he was able to hear the gospel for the first time. And through the work of God's Spirit, that life-changing message took root in his heart and he became a life-long follower of Jesus.

Isn't that interesting? This kid had taken on a false identity. He thought he was a problem child when, in fact, he was a child of God. And it was only through the graciousness of his Sunday School teacher that he was able to see himself through God's eyes.

If you've been in children's ministry for long enough, you've probably had a kid like this. And it's SO NORMAL to feel frustrated when they defy you at seemingly every turn. (I'm sure that boy's Sunday School teacher felt the same way!)

But don't lead with your frustration. Instead, lead with the same grace that God shows us on a daily basis.

Set boundaries, be firm, discipline with love, but in the end, ALWAYS let them know they are loved and welcomed in the church.

Imagine what might change in those kids if you enthusiastically greeted them with a "Hey [say their name], I'm REALLY happy to see you!" Or...

"I hope you come back next week!" Or...

"I really missed you last week! Where were you?"

Kids who struggle with behavior don't need one more adult reminding them they're a problem child. They get that message everywhere else. They need ONE adult to tell them they're a child of God.

Even on their worst day.

Proud to partner with you in reaching kids for Jesus!


A fun new way to celebrate Christmas! The "Bash" is back and better than ever! During Gingerbread Bash, families build gingerbread nativities, hear the Christmas story from the Bible, play games, sing songs, and discover the life changing gift of God’s Son, Jesus. Best of all, it's got a clear gospel presentation that makes it perfect for a community outreach event.



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