There are three types of kids in your ministry– ones in your core group who grow up in church, ones who come occasionally and have some church background, and ones who may one day make it through your door, but have never before been exposed to the church.
Dr. Shane Garrison from Campbellsville University in Kentucky recently shared at our Vacation Bible School Preview events about how he himself fell into that last category as a child. He referred to this group of kids as “spiritual orphans”– those who grow up knowing nothing of the church and living with parents who do not know the Lord.
As I sat in the auditorium and listened to Dr. Garrison’s story of faith and redemption, I wept at the reminder that those “spiritual orphans” are the reason that we do ministry to begin with. It is critical in your children’s ministry to build relationships and disciple the kids who are already there. It is equally as critical to remember God’s call in Matthew 28:19 to go and make disciples. If we are not reaching the unchurched children around us, we are denying them an opportunity to hear the Gospel and to ultimately come to know the Lord.
Here are a few things to remember when reaching out unchurched children:
1. You have to go to them. On a rare occasion they will come to you, but for most, even if it’s only a few blocks down, your church feels miles away. Church is a foreign concept for these kids and they need your extended invitation.
2. You can’t expect them to understand your rules. These kids may not know that prayer means to be still and quiet or close your eyes. They may not understand the “culture” that we take for granted in the church. Be patient with them and help them to feel welcomed in your environment.
3. Make it fun for them, and don’t forget why they are there. You want kids to enjoy their time so that they want to come back, but don’t miss this opportunity to invest in their lives spiritually. It may take them time to piece spiritual truths together, but remember that you have an opportunity to show them love.
Check out more from Dr. Garrison’s message here.