But, there is one more thing we must do, which we often do not even think about . . . help the children in our ministries build and make strong friendships. Some of the children in our ministries will already be friends, because their parents are friends, because the grew up together, and/or because they go to school together. But other children will not have friends. They will sit by themselves, to the side, not really engaging. Not really connecting. And, when it is their choice to go to church or not, they are more likely to choose not to go.
It is extremely important for us - and for our volunteers - to do all we can possibly do to help the children in our ministry build strong friendships with the other children. How can we do this? Consider the following . . .
- Train volunteers to notice if a child or children in their class/group do not seem to have friends.
- Plan your ministries so children get into small groups - vary the groups so the same children do not always get in the same groups and exclude others.
- Focus upon challenging and encouraging children to get to know and build friendships with the others in their class.
- Ask parents to connect with other parents - especially new families - so as the adults build friendships, their children will as well.
- Build a culture in your ministry of friendship and carry it through all you do.
And, what are the benefits to having this "culture of friendship" in your ministry? Just look at the following . . .
- Children will have Christian friends.
- Children will encourage their friends to make wise choices.
- Your ministry will be known as a place where all are welcome and friendships are wanted and made.
- You will be obeying Scripture as it teaches over and over to love others.
These are just a few benefits, so as you look at the new school year of ministry, be sure to focus upon building a ministry which encourages children and families to build solid friendships - and be sure no one is left out.
What do you do to build a "culture of friendship" in your Children's Ministry?