Imagine this for a second... You meet this incredible man who you can't say enough good things about. In fact, every week, when you get together with your other friends, you spend an entire HOUR talking about this person. One week you tell stories of how kind and compassionate he is. The next week, you go on and on about his generosity. The next, his wisdom. Then forgiveness. There's no end to the praise you give him. To top it off, you tell them about a pool party you were at with him. "You'll never believe this," you say. "He walked across the pool water and he didn't even get his flip flops wet!" "Was the cover on?" they ask with awe.
"No!" you assure them before continuing. "And then, get this! We ran out of drinks at the party and he said, 'Turn on the outside faucet.' And we did, and guess what...WINE came out of the garden hose!"
After a year of these stories, your friends almost feel like they know this man, but they don't. And why don't they?
Because you spend so much time talking about him, but you never make a personal introduction. You never say, "You've got to meet him!"
Now, you might think that would be silly. (Maybe even a little rude.) Who would hype someone up so much, but never introduce him to others?
But the truth is, most KidMin leaders do this exact thing in their children's ministry. We talk ABOUT God. We tell stories of His faithfulness, kindness and compassion. We tell of His power and the miracles He's performed. We even tell kids how important it is to have a relationship with Jesus, yet during our time with them, we fail to do 2 things:
We fail to personally introduce them to God.
We fail to give them the time and space to hang out with God.
For just a minute, think through all the elements of your service in terms of horizontal or vertical interactions. Horizontal interactions are interactions between kids and leaders or between kids and kids. Vertical interactions are between kids and God.
Let me guess, with the exception of worship, your programming elements are all horizontal. They might be about God, but they don't involve kids talking and listening to God.
Don't get me wrong...
Talking ABOUT God is so important! But when the relationship piece is missing, our ministries become more about religious education than gospel-centered teaching.
So how can you fix that?
First, make the introduction. Give them the gospel on a regular basis! It doesn't have to be the entire message. Sometimes it's just a short Christ-connection at the end of the lesson. Teaching kids the gospel and giving them the opportunity to respond is like telling them, "You've got a huge problem, but I want to introduce you to the man who can fix it."
Second, incorporate response stations. Quite simply, this is a quiet time for kids to connect with God through personal prayer, journaling, art, or Bible reading. It's a way of fostering a relationship between them and their Savior. There's a LOT more to be said about response stations, but I'll save that for the next post.
In the meantime, if you download a free GO! elementary lesson, you can get a preview of how we incorporate response stations into the end of every large group lessons.
(Click the button below to sign up or sign in, then choose a lesson from the "Free GO! Resources" page.)