Through traveling across America as well as to other countries conducting VBS and children’s programs, what I’ve found is this – kids will be kids… In certain ways, God has wired them all the same!
Whether they come from good Christian homes, or from the worst of families or neighborhoods, whether rich or poor, black or white, American or from another country, they all have some of the same things in common. Which allows for us as children’s ministry workers to do the same kinds of things and get the same results.
The sooner children’s ministry volunteers and leaders embrace certain things about kids instead of resenting them, the more effective that they will become, regardless of the age, background, or region where these kids are from.
Here are some things that those who serve in children’s ministry need to get used to and embrace, because kids will be kids:
- Kids are motivated by INCENTIVES (both positive & negative)
Kids love prizes. And that’s okay.
If a children’s ministry isn’t leveraging the use of prizes in their ministry, they are probably missing out on one of the greatest motivators for kids to listen and behave. Whether this be quiet seat prize winners, a treasure chest, or any other form of prizes, use them and you will start to see the difference.
Cool prizes have a way of speaking a whole lot louder than frustrated volunteers.
However, kids are also motivated by negative incentives. When rules are explained and consequences enforced, those rules become far more than just rules alone, they become an incentive for good behavior as well.
- Kids are wired for FUN
There is not a kid on the planet who doesn’t love to have fun. That’s why our children’s ministry theme is “combining faith with fun.” We want to give kids a reason to want to come to church by making it one of the best hours of their week. Coming to church should be a place where kids want to come to have fun learning about God.
Nothing will help kids to have fun more than when you do.
Learn to let loose, swallow your pride, just be you, and remember what it’s like to be a kid yourself. Kids love adults who know how to have fun, get crazy, be silly, and get on their level.
- Kids love to SING
There’s something special about music that is so very powerful to unify a crowd, to teach Bible doctrine, to help kids learn how to worship, and to engage them with actions and fun.
Why is it easier for kids to memorize verses when we put them to music? Why are kids able to know a song by heart after just hearing it one time? And how is it that singing can bring out the fun in even the quietest of kids who absolutely love to get after it through song?
Kids love to sing. Kids need to sing. Because music has the power to get them moving, thinking, learning, engaging, and worshipping – sometimes all at the same time.
- Kids want to PARTICIPATE
God created kids to be doers. They learn best though activity and participation. That’s one of the reasons why kids’ church is so much more fun than “big church”! We appeal to their nature of wanting to participate in order to learn. This is why we have action songs, team challenges, lesson character roles, and review games, etc.
The more kids get to participate, the more engaged they become. And the more engaged they become, the more they will learn and remember.
- Kids long for AFFECTION
Everywhere I go to do children’s programs, it never ceases to amaze me when kids I don’t even know come up and randomly give me a hug.
Kids love to be loved, and desire for people in their lives to give them affection through their words, their gestures, and appropriate touch.
Every kid, everywhere loves to be given a compliment, to be showered with praise, to be given a high five, a pat on the back, or to simply be told they are loved.
Kids long for affection, and they need to be regularly experiencing the love of God through us.
- Kids need THE GOSPEL
Every kid. Every where. Needs Jesus. Most kids are capable of understanding that they are a sinner, Jesus is the Savior, and they can be saved from their sin by trusting in Him. Jesus said that to offend one of these little ones comes with great consequences (Mark 9:42), and I can’t think of anything more offensive than to give them fun, but to fail to give them the gospel.
Kids need to hear the gospel. (Rom. 10:17) Kids need to believe the gospel. (Rom. 10:9) And kids need to be given opportunities to receive the gospel. (Luke 18:16-17)
In many ways, God made kids with a universal fit for these 6 things – incentives, fun, singing, participation, affection, and the gospel. They’re basic, but they work… in any setting, any culture, any church.
Whether you’re a children’s ministry volunteer in your church, or a parent with kids in your home, are you taking advantage of these 6 things by using them effectively to maximize your influence with the kids in your care?
Kids are wired the same way, and the sooner we adapt our style and preferences to accommodate theirs, the more of a long-term impact we can have.
Because kids will be kids… God made em’ that way… we just need to get used to it! 🙂