“Be intentional with kids.” “Have intentional conversations today.” “Make sure that you are being intentional during hang time.”
These are a few phrases that you might hear during a CentriKid staff meeting at camp. Kids are only with us at camp for 5 short days each year, so we think it is VERY important for our staffers to be intentional with campers…but what do we really mean when we use this phrase?
At camp, being intentional basically means purposefully moving conversations from basic, surface-level topics to deeper, spiritual truth. It means seeking out specific campers (sometimes even scheduling meet-ups at the SPOT) and doing whatever is necessary to move them one stop closer to the cross of Christ. It means developing relationships that God can use to bring about life-change. We always want to take full advantage of the time that God gives us to build relationships and point campers to Christ.
There is no set formula for being intentional, but here are a few tips that may help you to have more intentional conversations with kids in your ministry:
1. PLAN to be intentional. This might be a given, but many times this step is ironically overlooked. Webster defines the word intentional as “done in a way that is planned or intended.” You cannot expect deep, spiritual conversations to come about by happenstance. Identify kids who you want to challenge or encourage spiritually, and set aside time on your planner to talk with them. There’s no need to set up formal meetings. You can easily talk to a kid about spiritual things while you are sharing a meal or walking alongside them to your next activity, but if you don’t plan for the time, it likely will not happen.
2. ASK spiritual questions. Oftentimes as adults, we shy away from asking spiritual questions because we fear aWkWArd situations. Kids do not have the same awkward filter as adults, and chances are that if you are interested in having an intentional conversation with a kid, you are probably already involved in their spiritual life in some way. Even though it may seem awkward to you, it will likely seem very natural to kids for you to ask spiritual questions; in fact, it might seem more unusual if you avoid spiritual topics. If you want to quickly make a conversation intentional, try asking, “Tell me about your relationship with Jesus,” or “What are you doing to grow as a Christian?”
3. SHARE your story. If you are having a hard time “breaking the ice” with a particular kid, try sharing stories of how God has worked in your life. This is an excellent way to teach kids about the Kingdom, and it also may encourage them to open up and share with you.
For more tips on communicating with kids check out these posts: