GHKids Core Values
SHEPHERDING // ENGAGING // EXTRA-MILE // DEEP // SAFE
We Have To Prepare Them ... To Leave
From the time a child enters first grade until they graduate 5th grade, we have 250 weekends at most before they move on into Middle School. That is our maximum impact potential - not counting days lost due to sickness, vacations, joint custody, or not feeling up to being at church.
For a small group leader, that means you have less than 250 hours where you personally will be able to influence a child before they move on to Middle School. That is why every hour counts. That is also why, from the very start, our role and responsibility in children’s ministry is to prepare and equip kids for what comes next.
The goal is to influence kids to develop and maintain a personal relationship with God that remains long after they’ve left the structure of our ministry. This is the challenge of Small Group ministry - in order to leverage influence, we must first gain a position of influence. However, once we’ve developed relationship and earned a position of influence in a child’s life, we have to become experts at leveraging and using that influence to shape them and train them as disciples.
COACHING: THE BRIDGE BETWEEN RELATIONSHIP AND INSTRUCTION
One of the questions we face in children's ministry is - Are we to approach small group leadership as TEACHERS (typified by the Sunday School format), directing our effort and energy towards INSTRUCTION and KNOWLEDGE; or, are we to approach our ministry as MENTORS (typified by the Small Group format), directing our energy and effort into building RELATIONSHIPS of TRUST? For a while, I've struggled with as an either-or scenario. Either we teach kids OR we disciple kids. However, I am more convinced that we MUST do BOTH. Discipleship is BOTH doing life with someone AND training them in the ways of Jesus. It is the laborious work of building the FOUNDATION upon which the structure of their lives will later be built.
This has brought my attention to a 3rd model of how we can lead our kids. Rather than the model of a teacher who would focus of instruction, or a mentor who would focus on relationships of trust, we want to look at the example of a coach. Coaches bridge the gap. They uses relationship and influence as a platform to develop and train. They both meet kids where they are at and have a training plan to develop them into what they can become.
Coaches work tirelessly to develop their players into champions. They practice fundamentals again and again until they are certain that, in the moment of pressure, their players will perform to the highest calibre. Because coaches know they cannot go on to the field with their players. Once they release their team on the field, they will see the quality of the foundation they've built be tested.
So, coaches focus on a limited subset of skills, practices, and behaviors and rehearse them over and again until they become a part of the player's muscle-memory. For us, in helping children become disciples, we this subset of practices our "Five Faith Skills"
These are the practical methods through which we help kids to engage personally with the invisible, infinite God. However, they are not natural to us or easy to attain. They are and must be intentionally learned and purposefully maintained for them to have an impact in the life our the children we serve. This requires discipline - starting with us. In order for our kids to grow personally in their relationship with God, we must be deliberate with these faith skills to:
- Plan Them - plan ahead of time which skills would fit in the context of an upcoming lesson
- Model Them - don't just tell them how to do it, SHOW them how to do it
- Practice Them - make space regularly to teach and rehearse the skills, give challenges for them to practice these skills at home
- Reinforce Them - FOLLOW up - if you give an challenge, make sure they do it. Ask what went well and help them improve.
This is, then, what we are called to do - Coach them and train them in developing a life-long transformative relationship with God.
Thanks for being a part of the team.