Relationships are so very important! And "Building Relationships" can seem quite daunting...especially in the world that we currently find ourselves.
A World of...
* Streaming Services
* Physical Abuse
* Emotional Abuse
* Verbal Abuse
* ...you get the point!
It can be almost scary to try to form relationships with children, when we have a founded fear of being lumped in a category with pedaphiles, etc. It's no joke! So we must proceed with ALL caution....BUT we MUST NOT ignore the need for true, loving, godly relationships with the children and families we serve in our ministry.
Children everywhere are craving godly love! Here are a few statistics that can help us understand the important responsibility we have...
* Every 10 seconds a report is made on some form of child abuse.
* In the US alone, 4-7 children are lost daily, from abuse or neglect. * 50% of American families are divorced. * 21% of children are being raised without their fathers.
* 70% of long-term, incarcerated inmates grew up in a broken home.
* 2.5 million children are homeless, every year in America!
NOTE: These numbers are constantly changing, so you may find something else entirely...but my point is that children need love! They need love from us - their godly leaders. And if they don't get it from us, they will look for it themselves...and usually THINK that they find it but in all the wrong places.
So, how can we help when we have to be so careful? Here are just a few simple things that I have found are working. Children will feel they are important and special...and THEY WILL CONNECT with you!
Let's dive into these 4 ideas....
1. KNOW THEIR NAME! Yes, I realize this is simple...but depending on the number of children in your ministry, this isn't such an easy task! LOL Know their name, their nickname...and meet them at the door, calling them by name.
I have had little 5-year-olds come up to our children's church for the first time. I met them at the door, and called them by name. You should've seen their faces! LOL They stopped dead in their tracks and stared! I'm sure they wondered how in the world I already knew them, when they had never really noticed me before in the main sanctuary. It starts you off on the right foot with building a trust relationship with those little ones.
Also, if you use puppets in your ministry, know where the children sit, and call them by name with the puppet (of course making sure to look in that direction). You will enjoy the giggles you receive! :D
2. Make Eye Contact
In a world of technology and digital devices, children have less and less eye contact...with each other, with their parents, and with the other adults in their lives.
As much as we don't like feeling ignored by other people in our own lives, it is even so much more for children. Don't look away when they are telling you about their new puppy, or motion to other staff when they are discussing their stubbed toe. Give them your full attention and look them in the eye on THEIR LEVEL! This is HUGE when working to build a relationship with your kids.
3. Physical Touch - Yikes!
Yes, I know...this is where we have to be extra careful. But humans NEED touch....humans crave physical touch! In a healthy way. So, don't let this scare you, just be aware of what is ok and what is not ok. Here are some ideas...
First of all, touch can be a lot of different things! * Hand shake * High five
* Fist bump
* A tap on the shoulder
* Elbow bump
I won't say "never", but it is not usually a good idea to hug or rub children's backs. Realizing that you don't mean anything untoward, a lot of things can be construed by others, if there were ever a problem to arise. If a hug is needed, make sure to give a side hug, with arm across their shoulder and to your side. Let the children lead in this area. Learn their personalities and notice what they enjoy and need, to help them feel loved and accepted by you.
I realize that we are all very busy. If you work in a class weekly, you are pressed for time to prepare and teach, etc. But time with children is imperative to building relationships.
I mean "one-on-one" time that makes them feel special. This can mean a lot of different things....
* Asking "Carrie" what she plans to have for lunch, when she gets home.
* Find out what is "Aaron's" cat's name.
* Which subject in school is "Melony's" favorite?
* Sit beside a child during worship (if you aren't leading).
* During snack time (if you have one), sit and visit with one or two.
* Sit at the boys' table during crafts. * Chat with them in "Big Church".
Here's the thing...anytime that you can give special attention ASIDE FROM your lesson or class time, they will know that you care!
The more you look for opportunities, the more you will find.
If we want our children to learn and grow...if we want our children to have a true relationship with Jesus...it starts with us! It starts with them learning to trust US!
What ways can YOU show your children you care? I'd love to hear your ideas below. :D
Until next time... God Bless,
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries
P.S. Don't forget to head over to my EVENTS page to sign up for the FREE Heart Prop Building webinar. The webinar runs on January 29th @ 7pm CST. I look forward to seeing you there! :D