Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dispatch & The Question Nobody Asks About Our Children

The Question Nobody Asks About Our Children - Larry Fowler
As I wrote about yesterday, this past Winter I was invited to be part of the initial Dispatch Content Team and asked to write about safety in the church; and a wonderful resource from KidCheck which was included in the first Dispatch box. You will find information about Dispatch and how you can sign up to receive these boxes of resources and tools each quarter at this link. I said I'd be reviewing some of the resources in the first box this coming week, so today I'm beginning with a book by Larry Fowler - The Question Nobody Asks About Our Children.

This book may be small, but it will ask you questions you will think about for years. It will challenge you to take a strong and close look at what you are doing, how you are doing it and what you need to do differently if you are serious about keeping children from growing up and away from their faith.

The Question Nobody Asks About Our Children is published by AWANA and they say it; "reveals an alarming blind spot in children's ministry, explains how this blind spot contributes to the epidemic of disconnected youth, then presents real-world ways churches are combating this problem."

Larry absolutely, "hits the nail on the head" when he asks; "How often do the children in our ministries come to church?" because, like he says, there are 168 hours in a week and we get children for one hour - or maybe up to three if children participate in the mid-week ministry. If children actually only participate in our ministry every other week - as so many do, then do the math. They are only in our ministry for one - to three hours out of 336 hours. Yes, 336 hours. This probably has your attention - or at least it should.

So, what does this look like over a year? Over the few short years a child is in your children's ministry? And, what happens if they do not develop relationships with the volunteers serving them? Beyond this; what if they do not build any deep relationships with the other children in their classes?

Larry lays this problem out very clearly for us, so we can not miss it. And we absolutely need to not "miss" it. We need to sit up and pay very close attention and then act upon it. I'm so thankful he goes on to walk us through five things which make a difference for the children in our ministries, he is very clear about three things the church must do, four things our children's ministries must do and three things parents must do.

I am especially happy to see Larry focus on how important it is for children to build solid friendships with other children at church. My church is large - more than 5,000 people on Sundays. This past September I taught a training for everyone in the church who volunteered and served with the children. The focus of the training was on engaging children - which is important for us to do. But I also spent time challenging volunteers and asking them to make sure no child in their class leaves without making a friend. As volunteers we have to care about whether the children in our classes/groups are connecting with other children, or not. I also challenged them to pay attention to when a child was not there - to email or snail mail cards - which they could have the other children in class sign for children who were not there.

You will find resources for "The Question" at the following link. Read the book. Then read it again, this time praying through it. Ask God to help you see where your church and ministry truly are and what you can do to, "keep the Zac's" rather than lose them.

If for no other reason than the first Dispatch box included the book, The Question Nobody Asks About Our Children, it is absolutely worth every single penny. You might wonder why I say this; I'll tell you. Because it will provide resources which honestly have the potential to wake you up and change your ministry; in so doing, help you "keep" the children.

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