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kids are the church of today and if we give them a chance to actively participate in prayer we may just be blown away. this is a post from my archives about kids and prayer.

last night our church hosted a night of dedicated prayer to take place in over 40-50 homes all over the city of birmingham. while prayer is probably my weakest spiritual discipline, i was so looking forward to this night for several reasons. the first is that the night was all about prayer; not fellowship and food, which are two things baptist have seemed to master. secondly, these groups were a great mix of people from all ages and walks of life. lastly, the kids weren’t dropped off at a nursery or childcare, they were invited to the night of prayer. it was quite a night. let me just say, we had church!

as a ministry leader, i learned that we are setting the bar too low for kids and prayer. oh i get it and i understand the questions. several people asked me for confirmation that kids were really invited. i immediately exclaimed “yes, we are having church like in Jesus’ day. gather together and hear and seek him and not divide into age groups scattered all over buildings.” then there were those who doubted kids would be able to focus on prayer for a whole hour. to be honest, i wondered that myself. (i don’t sit still well, and let’s just say i may have wiggled more than the kids at my designated home.) and next was the question we all knew was coming (this time from a child, but we can imagine some adults were thinking it, too) “do we have to pray out loud?”

after a solid hour of praising God for who He is, thanking him for all He has done, silent confession, and intercession for others, i was reminded that i would take a house of praying kids over an adult house any day. here are just a couple of things i heard from the mouths of babes:

  • “God let the lost look to You and bow down to You.”
  • “may the adults in this room be as bold about sharing Jesus as kids are.” (that one stung a little, but i knew it to be true with the crowd of kids that surrounded me in prayer.)
  • “thank you for Jesus.” (amen.)
  • “thank you for butter.” (i mean really, i loved this and wondered when was the last time i thanked God for butter.)
  • “God help me have the courage to share my faith at school even when others make fun of me.”
  • “thank you for our sunday school teachers.”
  • “thank you for clean water.” (obviously they have been listening, as we partner with countries to bring clean water to those in need.)
  • “help me be kind to others even when they are not nice back.”
  • prayers for the homeless in need of shelter.
  • prayers for our new pastor (we are in the search process) and the search team.

i could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point — the kids got it. one of the sweetest things to hear was the kids continually thanking God for things throughout our prayer time. when we changed gears to confession or intercession, they weren’t bound to only these types of prayers. thanksgiving prayers were still being uttered aloud as people were silently confessing or audibly interceding for others. (“thank you for science. thank you for math.) they knew all things were from Him and came prepared to thank Him. these kids boldly approached the throne of grace and not one (from the smallest preschooler) complained about us praying for a solid hour. one child at another home said at the end of their time that “it just felt like 10 minutes.” again, they get it. doesn’t time spent with someone you love and you know loves you, just fly by?

so as a kidmin leader here are my takeaways.

  • prayer shouldn’t just be something we use as a transition pieces in our lesson/classes. prayer can be the lesson.
  • we underestimate and often undervalue kids when we limit prayer to a short amount of time because we think kids can’t handle long periods.
  • kids pray as Jesus taught, to the point without a lot of show for attention. so, how can we intentionally guide them in more prayer times?
  • kid’s get it. they can boldly and transparently lay their requests before a loving Savior. instead of taking so long for prayer requests, why don’t we simply teach them to pray?
  • kids are listening to what is being taught. let’s make time for intentional prayer after the lesson and allow kids to talk it over with the Father.

i am done with expecting less of kids because they are younger. really, in my experiences, we should expect more. so no more settling, i am setting the bar high for kids and prayer and i am going to sit back and watch the Lord work.

this picture was form another prayer house, but i love it. just look at how excited and attentive they are.

there are 168 hours in a week. if we are lucky we get the privilege to ministry to kids and families one or two of them. for families there every time the door is open we might just be lucky enough to get three hours of focused ministry time. but still, three hours leave us lacking when we are reminded that a week offers 168. that is why our ministries need to become more family focused.

  • become intentional about building a bridge from church to home so that the learning can penetrate every aspect of life.

    • what are some ways you are dropping the truth between church and home?
    • begin now by making it a point in all you plan to have a goal to make sure the truth not only impacts families within the walls of the church but as they leave the church as well.
  • how are we making the most of the time we have families together on campus so that when they leave their shared experiences may lead to more discussion and learning?

    • Jesus didn’t send everyone to a different classroom on the hillside. He simply gathered a crowd and taught.
    • family worship is a great time to teach truths on a kids level with activities that all ages will enjoy.
    • invite parents to programs you already have going on. make sure they attend Gospel and new Christian classes so that they can learn to guide their children in spiritual truths in a safe environment.
    • don’t reinvent the wheel and add tons more to your church calendar. simply take a look at your current events and see how you can make them more family friendly.
  • are we partnering to celebrate what families are already celebrating by doing so in a way where the truth of Jesus is the greatest takeaway?

    • when planning to celebrate spiritual markers with families use these questions as a filter:
      • is the Gospel at the core of the spiritual marker celebration?
      • does this celebration create an opportunity to build a bridge from the church to home?
      • how will your celebration differ from the way the world would celebrate? (is Jesus the takeaway?)
      • is the Word of God the backbone for this celebration?
      • how will you help families apply these truths beyond the walls of the church?
    • to see more in a past blog about celebrating spiritual markers click here.
  • with a strategic recipe for family time together we can be more focused on the truths we want to pass on to families.

    • present the truth from God’s Word. make sure families open their Bibles and see the source of the lesson taught.
    • experience the truth together in a hands-on way using different learning styles.
    • discuss the truth. ask several questions to get past their easy answers to what they really believe.
    • create a memory/object to take home to continue the conversation or remind the family what they had experienced together.
  • if we say we are family focused, we need to communicate the cause, the why, and the goal of all we are planning to come alongside families as they journey toward Jesus together.

    • do parents know the goal of your ministry?
    • do parents know the goal of each activity?
    • are you regularly updating parents on the truths you shared and how they can follow-up?
    • are you asking families questions to get to the root of what they believe?
    • are you forgetting non-traditional families like foster/adoptive families, divorced families or grandparents raising grandchildren?

what a joy it was to spend some quality time discovering, sharing, and discussing what it means to have a Gospel-centered kids ministry. i am attaching some notes and other items that those that attended (or even didn’t attend) might find helpful.

why Gospel-centered?

  • not something we add to what we are already doing
  • it is the reason we do anything
  • the Gospel is the why

Gospel-centered filter

  • what is your mission statement?
  • start with the end in mind. (what kind of child would you like to see leave your ministry?)
  • the filter gives you the freedom to say yes/no to activities and programs.

rules of change

  • don’t change something just for the sake of change.
  • don’t keep something just because it has always been done.
  • where do you need Gospel-centered change in your ministry?

communicating Gospel-centered

  • preach the Gospel to yourself daily
  • inform staff of the Gospel-centered why of all that you are doing.
  • make sure your investors/volunteers are constantly reminded the Gospel is the goal.
  • are you consistently sharing with parents how everything you are doing in centered around the Gospel?
  • social media / emails – make sure to include the Gospel connection in all your posts and emails.
  • make it a priority to always share the way of your event/program.

 

you can find the blog posts outlining my two week Gospel class here.

Gospel-centered questions for tabletop box download – Gospel questions
here is the download for the table challenge game we played at the end. – table challenge
here is the link to the bridge video we used – the bridge
here is the link to the scripture video that played during the table challenge. – Gospel scriptures

my blog and link about free Gospel-centered training – lifeway Gospel-centered training

[learn_more caption=”let me hear from you” state=”open”] i would love to hear how God is transforming your ministry. be sure to comment below and let me know![/learn_more]

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