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I understand that many people would disagree, click but a dog isn’t my best friend. It shouldn’t be a child’s best friend either.
Kids like Legos were made for connections. Most children’s ministry leaders understand that our primary role is to help children connect with God. However, hospital on the bottom side of every Lego styled building block is another place made for connection. That place is for connecting with people. Friends are important to us and especially important to kids. Almost anything you do is better, when you do it with a friend. Friends can make even the most ordinary task fun and they take fun to another level when it is shared with a friend. We learn from them. We experience sharing with them, both in giving and receiving. We learn with them. We develop with them. They encourage us, inspire us and keep us on track.
But if we choose the wrong friends, there influence can be negative instead of positive. That’s just one more reason why it is so important that we help children develop friends at church. When I was a little girl, no there were no horse and buggies back them and yes we had television, just not colored television. I can’t believe I dated myself like that. When I was a little girl, everyone in my class went to the same school. I played with them in the neighborhood. We played under the grandstands together while our brothers played ball. The kids at my church were already my friends. But in most of the churches today, kids don’t know each other. That complicates our job in helping children get to know each other.
Why are church friends so important to children?
Develop a sense of belonging. When children have friends in their church it gives them a sense of belonging. They feel like the class is their class and they take more ownership in the class. Research shows that those vital friendships will help them stay in church when those turbulent teen years rattle the windows of their faith.
They want to come to church. Have friends at church undergirds a feeling of being loved and welcomed. No one, especially kids want to go somewhere that they don’t feel loved. When they have friends that are excited to see them, they will feel it and want to attend regularly.
It makes church more fun. My mother-in-law told us about receiving a Christian comedy DVD, but she continued with the comment, “It’s not very funny.” But when we watched it together, we all hooted and hollered with laughter the entire video. The video didn’t change it was just funnier with a friend. That happens when a child share his church experience with a friend. The fun is funner. I know that isn’t a word, but it is a fact. The ministry is gooder. That’s not a word either, but you’ll remember the words long after you’ve forget my blog, then you’ll have to come back and reread it.
It’s what God intended to happen. I don’t believe God intended us to file into a big auditorium, give our offering, listen to a quick sermon and file back out. I believe He intended us for to experience community. God intended that we become a body, each giving and receiving and serving and encouraging the other member of the body to make it complete and healthy.
But community doesn’t just happen. It must be deliberate and strategic. Friday, I’ll talk about some ways to help children have friends. Please be thinking about what you do or have done to create community in your class. Please share it with us Thursday.
Think Missional! Pass this on to someone you think may enjoy it or need it.