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Messy Conversations

In my time in children’s ministry one thing I have noticed is that sometimes parents have a hard time with the messy conversations. People always talk about how kids and babies are messy. They’re covered in sticky stuff and make big messes in every room of the house. They’re messy. But people rarely talk about the messy conversations.

Has your child ever asked you a question that you did not know the answer to?

Have you ever said you weren’t sure and hoped that the children’s pastor would cover the topic?

If you said yes to either of those questions, this article is for you!

I probably don’t need to tell you how important parents are in the spiritual development of their kids…but I will go ahead and cover it anyway because it is SUPER IMPORTANT.

I don’t know if you have ever done the math but think for a second about how long your child is in children’s church each week. Maybe an hour and a half? Over half of that time is probably spent on games and activities so let’s round down to about an hour of actual discipleship and learning. Maybe your child goes to midweek service as well. We’ll say that’s another hour each week. IF you go to church every Sunday and to every midweek service that’s 104 hours a year. Let’s be honest though, no one is there EVERY TIME. On average, we’ll say it’s 80 hours a year of discipleship and growing in the Lord.

That is really not that much when we are talking about the spiritual development of a child. In comparison to a sport, 80 hours a year is nothing! If your child is in sports you will understand this. A kid in a seasonal sport for four months out of the year probably has games or practice roughly three times a week for two hours or more. That’s 96 hours in four months, not even considering if they play travel sports or more than one sport. If we can make sure our kids are being coached in sports that much, we better make sure they’re being coached in the word even more than that.

All that to say that your children’s pastor or leader is not able to lead your child in spiritual development as much as you may think. They only see your kid one or two days a week and have lots of kids to focus on! The only one that can really lead your child’s spiritual development is YOU, a parent.

What a privilege!

When kids ask awkward questions or questions that parents just don’t know the answers to it’s easier to shrug it off and hope the pastor covers that topic than try to figure out how to explain a hard topic like death or the trinity. I understand. It’s hard. Questions can be messy. Trying to find the answers can be messy. I’m just not sure why we ever expect anything else from kids. The mess is what makes it fun!

When I first started leading a children’s ministry, I am ashamed to admit that I often skipped over topics that I did not know how to handle. Granted, I was 16 years old with zero training and lacking in the proper support to do the job. There were certain lessons that I knew needed to be covered but, anticipating the questions, I got nervous. I didn’t know how to teach on something that I didn’t fully understand myself. So I get it.

Your kid asks you how the trinity works or why God let’s bad things happen or how God was created and you can’t answer because you don’t quite understand it yourself…that’s okay. I have some tips that may help you out in this area and allow you to continue leading your child’s spiritual development.

1. Admit you don’t know- It is okay to say that you do not know the answer. Your child will probably even appreciate your honest!

2. Find out together- If you are going to say that you don’t know, make a commitment to find out together. Go to the word and research or pray and ask God to help you. Finding the answer together will be a great way to bond with your child and nurture their spiritual development in a way you maybe never have before.

3. Ask for help- If you still cannot find the answer or figure out how to explain it to your child, ask for help. Please don’t ask your children’s pastor to talk about it in kids church or ask for them to explain it to your child. Express your interest in being part of the process. Maybe the children’s pastor can meet with both you and your child to discuss the issue or maybe the pastor can encourage you to do it yourself. Just don’t give up on yourself or the opportunity you have! Be part of what the Lord is doing in your child’s life!

For children’s pastors and staff-

If a parent in your ministry is asking questions about how to have messy conversations, encourage them to follow the steps above. Encourage them to stick it out and be part of their child’s life in a new way!

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