Building relationships with children can certainly be a difficult task, and yet, relating well to kids is absolutely essential to ministering well to kids. In my own experiences of serving as a Camp Director with CentriKid Camps, I have been able to see firsthand the simple truth of this adage: life-change happens best in the context of relationships. Relationships.are.key. So, if relating to kids is so important to ministry, what are some ways to go about fostering these relationships?
- Pray. As in all areas of life and ministry, the aide of the Holy Spirit is essential to understanding and relating to kids. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you and give you insight and wisdom. Pray for opportunities to foster relationships with the kids in your ministry, and pray for specific children by name. Pray before, during, and after you spend time with kids. Pray without ceasing.
- Prepare. In order to relate well with kids, it is important to have at least some understanding of kid-culture, so for many of us, this means it is time to do our homework. Adults that work with children should probably be familiar with names such as Justin Bieber and Joe Jonas, games such as Mario Kart and Rockband, and movies and shows such as Cars 2 and Phineas and Ferb. Do not misunderstand. I am not suggesting that you need to follow Justin Bieber on Twitter, buy a Wii, and watch the Disney channel all day, and I am also certainly not suggesting that you need to necessarily endorse any or all of these cultural elements. What I am suggesting is this: for good or bad, kids are interacting with the culture of the world, and if we as adults are oblivious or isolated from kid-culture, then we are missing out on many opportunities to connect with kids and to use these cultural elements as a means of building relationships and sharing truth.
- Practice. One of the best ways to understand and relate to kids is to simply spend time with them. The key here, though, is intentionality, not happenstance. If you teach, be sure to show up early so that you can take advantage of extra time with early arrivers. If possible, share a meal with kids or choose to sit at the “kid table.” Rather than always conversing in a circle of adults, choose to join the conversation with a group of kids. Plan to attend the sporting events or recitals of kids in your ministry. Spending intentional, quality time with kids is the best way to gain experience in understanding and relating to children.
This is a guest blog by Henry Dutton, was camp director for CentriKid Camps. Henry loves working with kids and does a great job leading camp staffers in sharing the gospel with kids at camp.