Should you ever wonder if we have a plan and goal in mind when you drop off your kids in our children’s ministries, allow me to put that to rest for you! We are crazy about being intentional! Both our K-4 and middle school ministry have four-point statements that guide every aspect of our programming, volunteer training, and prayer, and both are identical except in the wording of the third point. In grades K-4 (Kidzland), the ministry mandate goes like this: “Our heart for kids in grades K-4 – to LOVE church, to BELONG, to KNOW God’s Word and to EXPERIENCE Jesus.” For our middle school ministry, we say: “Our dream for middle school students is to see them LOVE church, FIND belonging, DISCOVER Truth, and EXPERIENCE Jesus.”
These statements guide every aspect of what we do.
For example, you may wonder why we put experience Jesus at the end of the list of both mandates; that wasn’t by accident! The reason is that few kids will ever make it to experiencing Jesus if they don’t like being at church, don’t feel like they belong, and don’t learn about God’s Word and Truth. I remember reading year’s ago in a youth ministry book or article that a typical middle school student will make up their mind in the first two minutes whether they will ever return to that youth group. Two minutes is pretty quick!
I’m not sure of the scholarly research that went into that statistic, but I’ve always taken it as a challenge for me and my leaders. If a student comes for the first time to our ministry, do they feel loved, valued and excited to be there? Church isn’t like school where they are made to attend! We need to be genuine in our first impressions and never waste their time.
Can you imagine that? A children’s or youth ministry that is intentional about not wasting the time of the kids who attend? I’m serious about this! We need to capitalize on every moment that child is in our company to make sure they feel like the precious gift they are!
It’s true that we hit and miss the mark from week to week and that is why I would invite you, as parents, to help us to do our jobs better! We tend to get two kinds of feedback, the first and the most common is gratitude. That feels great! At Southland, I know that most parents are behind what we are doing and are supportive. Then, less commonly, we get the downer emails. Emails that are sometimes offered in love, but are just as often kind of mean.
Now, this may surprise you, but both types of emails could be more helpful in the sense of building a stronger ministry! It is always good to know where things are going well, and quite frankly, we’ve bombed! But the best emails are specific and offer constructive, loving feedback. For example, when we’ve nailed the “my kid loves church” piece, be specific in what they love. If they love their leaders, what do they love about them? This helps us to see that there are specific actions or qualities of a leader that helps us meet our mandate.
On the other hand, if your child is being picked on, or is bored, as much as we want to know that and address it, please be part of the solution! Let us know what the school is doing to help them. Suggest a few activities that grab his or her attention at home. Tell us what they love so that we can try and implement aspects of that into our programming.
We love your kids! We love them so much that we want to be as absolutely intentional as possible. So, as the ministry year winds up in a few short weeks for summer, let us know some specific things that you have seen in your child this year. If you have concerns, please be gentle with us and offer suggestions, and if your child was a four-point mandate success – we’d love to know what it was that made the difference for him or her!
Thanks for trusting your children to us, we never take it for granted but are rather humbled by the fact that we get to support our awesome families as they raise spiritual champions in the Kingdom. If you are wondering how to do that just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure the appropriate people receive your email!
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