This post was written by Kim Hudson, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Connection. Community. Discipleship.
We know how to make those connections when we welcome kids and their grownups in our buildings, but are we taking full advantage of discipling those same people Jesus entrusts us with outside of the four walls? Are we making excuses like, “Where will I find the time, the volunteers, and resources? Or ‘Sunday is always coming!’?”
May I challenge you to flip these excuses into opportunities?
We must find the time by asking what good things need to go for the best thing: relationships.
We need to invite others to join us by recognizing they have gifts and resources our families need.
Yes, Sunday IS always coming.
Connecting during the week is vital to establishing relationships with our communities so that when they walk into the kids ministry areas on Sundays, we have already established relationships.
How though?!? How can we possibly connect during the week when our days are filled with all the “to-dos” to create the best experience possible on the weekends and midweek?
Let’s look at some of the same ways we developed connections as discipleship during 2020 and into 2021.
Here are 4 ways to build relationships outside church.
Many of us rediscovered the joy of sending and receiving handwritten notes, cards, and letters.
What would it look like to continue (or begin) to send mail?
Birthdays and other life events, illnesses, first-time guests, and those who have not yet returned are just a starting point for those who would love to open their mailbox to find a personalized envelope waiting for them to open.
Who in your community would love to be invited in to write a line or two, add some stickers or maybe include a coupon for your church coffee shop for the grownups?
By inviting those who might not be able to or desire to serve in a classroom you have just included them in kids ministry.
One way to make mail extra fun is to throw in some confetti.
Those who receive a note from me have learned to open them outdoors if they don’t want their home to sparkle with glitter.
The idea is to make it fun and personal to you and your kid’s ministry.
2. Front Door Drop Offs
Grown-ups with sick kids, families who are quarantined, moms with new babies, the list goes on of those who would feel extra loved when a simple care package is left by their front door.
Be creative in who you ask to jump on the “drop-off train.” Maybe someone in your church owns a local food business and would love to drop off warm baked goods or piping hot pizza.
Does your church have a group that organizes meals and would be happy to do so on behalf of your kids ministry for families and leaders too?
Who would be able to pick up a few items like popsicles, soup, crackers, and ginger ale tied together with a cheerful balloon for a sick child from your ministry?
Each front door drop-off is an opportunity to add a Scripture or short devotion as well as a take-home sheet from a recent lesson. This is front-door discipleship.
3. Social Media
Your personal and ministry-branded social media accounts are a powerful tool when it comes to connection.
Posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos in private social media groups which you invite your families to join allow grownups a glimpse into the classrooms where their kids are growing in their relationship with Jesus.
Posting on public, branded ministry pages (be sure to get a waiver signed that allows photos and videos to be posted) includes your entire community in what is happening in the kids ministry.
What if these posts allowed eyes to be opened that the kids ministry truly is the whole church ministry?
Friending or following those in your community gives you a front-row seat to what is happening in their lives – the hard times and the happy ones, too.
The more you know the more opportunities you have to connect.
4. Show Up
Maybe your (midweek) services are seeing a decline in attendance.
We can wonder, brainstorm and pray about how to get these kids back IN the church.
I wonder what it would look like to explore ways to go TO the kids you miss seeing in class.
Reach out to their grownups to ask if you would be welcome to show up at their sports practices or games, dance recitals, or music concerts.
An hour, maybe less, of your time will impact that child forever.
Ask most adults if they have a memory of someone other than a parent showing up to one of these events and I can guarantee they will still recall the name of the one who took the time to drop by even for a short time.
If your ministry is to the tiny humans, find out where they meet up for playgroups, park days, and storytime at the local library and join them.
Their grownups would love to have extra hands to help push swings, the kids would love to have you read a story, and more importantly, you will experience them functioning as a family which will provide valuable insight into the best way to disciple them.
As most of us have begun to return to in-person ministry and many are still offering the online option, we must realize and recognize that ministry has truly changed forever.
We will never “go back to normal” as going back just “isn’t a place we can get to from here” as C. McNair Wilson stated at a past CPC.
Ministry truly is multifaceted. Let’s embrace the many facets while looking for ways to connect with the ones who may not be sitting in the little chairs regularly.
Connection. Community. Discipleship.
It’s up to us to decide if we will continue looking back in an effort to “go back to normal” or will the words of Choco De Jesus remind us, “With revelation comes responsibility.”
Our mission is clear from Paul in Philippians 3:13, “Forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me.”
Let us reach beyond our 4 walls to make an impact in our communities for Jesus.
Kim is the Early Childhood Pastor at a church in North Carolina. Though she began her marathon in ministry as an 8-year-old believer with a sensitive spirit, she transitioned into vocational ministry 7 years ago. She is an INCM Engage Certificate alumni, and has her Masters in Religious Arts in Education. As a writer, speaker, and INCM coach she is passionate about connecting Kingdom calling to the world around us because she sees Jesus everywhere and believes kids and their leaders can too!