Going Deep in Kidmin
Before I dive in, let me introduce myself a bit.
My name is Brooke and I am 24 years old. I am an ordained minister and a missionary to the children of Panama. I have 10 years of experience working in children’s ministry. I studied Intercultural Studies and Children and Family Ministry at Northwest University. I do not have all the answers or a full-proof ministry plan but I believe in being a lifelong learner and am constantly trying to become a better children’s minister. I hope we can learn together!
Now that we have that out of the way…
Let’s talk about going deep.
I want to start by saying that it is difficult for me to “go deep” with a person. I do not excel in having deep chats and sharing details of my life with people. It takes time for me to open up and share. Even after years of knowing a person they may never know details about my family, what makes me tick or who I am as a person. Of course the people that you know for years will know certain things like how many siblings you have, where you work and (hopefully!) that you love the Lord. But none of these things constitute as having a “deep” relationship.
I say all that because my first point about going deep in kidmin is that depth takes time. It takes trust. If I, a grown up, need that much time to let people in and go deep, a child could need just as long or longer.
1. Depth takes time
It seems to me that a lot of time, especially on the mission field, due to evangelistic outreach we lack time. We come into a ministry context, lead a lesson and expect heart change by the end of an altar call or the end of a bible story. We expect these miraculous changes in kids but don’t put in the time to achieve it. You might be saying, “Hey, I’ve been in the same children’s ministry for five years! Now that is putting in the time!” Or maybe even longer than five years!
Kudos. I appreciate your commitment to your church and ministry! I hope you have deep and meaningful relationships with your students!
But if you don’t…
Consider the QUALITY of the time you have spent there. When was the last time you had a conversation with one of your kiddos that goes beyond topics like school and sports? Putting in “time” does not mean punching in the time clock. It means you have to spend time actually going deep! However, the depth doesn’t come after one week or one month. It takes time. It takes you, a children’s ministry leader, chipping away at the relationship, a little deeper each time.
How do you chip away?
Well, I am glad you asked. Chipping away to take your students deeper means you have to be intentional about your goals. It’s not just time and it’s not just being intentional. It’s both, hand in hand.
2. Intentionality + time = depth
Intentional also means deliberate, purposeful or calculated. I love that idea of being intentional in our ministries. Being intentional means going into each day, each service and each conversation with a goal in mind. Stop the haphazardness and know where you want to take your students. Know where you want a conversation to go and lead them there. Rarely are your kids going to tell you their struggles and concerns without prompting. Be deliberate and purposeful with each conversation and each action.
Being intentional is such an important concept to me because it is literally how I make all relationships. With my personality and the way I am wired (INFJ- represent!) in order to make friends I have to be extra intentional otherwise I will keep all people at arms reach. Especially being a missionary, this has been so important. I am not, nor will I ever be, the person that walks into a room and wants to talk to everyone or wants to ask my coworker personal questions. I have to intentionally go into a situation with goals for conversations and relationships. That might sound foreign to you, but I promise it works.
Take a second to think about the last time you asked a student where they were at in their spiritual life.
Have you ever?
When was the last time you talked to a student about some theological concerns they have?
Of course some discernment is needed here. Don’t jump in with a theological conversation with an eight year old if they’re not ready for it but consider this scripture as we proceed…
1 Corinthians 3:2 "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”
3. Milk vs Solid Food
I had a conversation with a friend not long ago. I had visited her church several times and one day she engaged me in conversation about the state of the church and the maturity of the congregation. Again, I am not an expert by any means but sometimes it takes an outside perspective. What I saw in this church was that the pastor was only giving the congregation milk rather than solid food. Every sermon was the same watered down message. It was always a solid sermon but always the same outcome. I mentioned my observation and my friend responded that the congregation simply was not ready for solid food and they could only handle the shallow message.
I think a lot of times in our respective ministries and churches we don’t give our sheep enough credit. We think maybe they aren’t ready so we keep feeding them milk. But my question then is, how do you know when they are ready if you keep giving them the same thing?
Something has to give. If we never take the plunge and give them solid food they will always want the milk and we will never know what they can handle.
I love this analogy about being infants drinking milk because it makes so much sense to me (Way to go Paul!). Of course a baby will keep taking the milk they are given! They’re not going to start asking for Cheerios. Parents offer solid food slowly to stretch their child and learn what they can handle!
Don’t try to break down the analogy with talk about child-led weaning. It’s in the Bible!
Now you are probably thinking that I am just off on a tangent and need to get back to the point…if you are thinking that- rude. But also a little correct.
My point is this, so many people limit what children are capable of. I am guilty of this at times too! We think kids can only handle so much theology or so much of the supernatural. We think kids will not be able to grasp the complex concepts because they have a short attention span.
I am here to tell you that this kind of thinking is, not only incorrect, but also dangerous. Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. We may need to explain it in fifteen minute segments, use visual aids or use vocabulary they know but please tell me where in the Bible it says that kids can’t handle theological truths or deep conversations about their relationship with the Lord. They totally can.
Scripture doesn’t say “I gave you milk because you were a child.” It says the people weren’t “ready” for solid food yet.
Kids might even be more capable to have real talk with than adults! So with your intentionality and time, use discernment to take your kids deeper! Take your kids deep in relationships, mentoring and, ultimately, in their relationship with the Lord. I truly believe that you are able to take your kids to new depths in their walk with Christ. I just really believe in you, our children’s ministers, and in children so much.
So much that I might need a new keyboard after this blog from vigorous and amped up typing. With that said, go forth and keep learning!