This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.
Somewhere in the past, someone concluded the primary reason children were leaving the church was somehow related to it’s boringness. There was a slow movement toward making entertainment more important than education and edification. And yet, in spite of the hyped up programs and entertainment schemes, kids are still exiting the church in droves.
One truth has become abundantly clear: Retainment by entertainment is ineffective.
If we want children and young adults to remain in the body of Christ, they need to be an integral part of it’s work. Instead of inventing ways to serve them, we need to teach them to serve others. We need to involve them in the important or they will go be an important part of something else.
Entrusting Children In the Church
As we discussed in the Engage segment of this series, children need to have meaningful relationships with Christians other than their parents. They need mentors.
Here are a few ways to get kids involved:
Pair an adult with a child to be greeters at the doors of the building. They can say hello and hand people bulletins. This helps the child learn how to look adults in the eye and the importance of making people feel welcomed.
Have kids around 9 or 10 pair up with a responsible teen (that’s not an oxymoron by the way) to clean up the Lord’s supper trays and prepare them for the next service.
Task some young kids with picking up discarded papers and trash from the pews and maybe use a little push vacuum and/or hand-held vacuum to clean anything after the service. Have them put any songbooks/bibles neatly away.
About once a quarter, have the kids go row by row and inspect the songbooks, pulling out those that need repair and teach them how to fix them.
At the end of the service, have some designated young boys walk up and down the aisle to collect visitor’s cards for the deacons.
If there is a rotation of teachers each quarter, ask some of the young adults (high school – college) to assist with the baby, toddler, pre-k, and kindergarten classes.
Ask the middle school – high school kids to assist with the curriculum preparations for the elementary and younger classes. They can cut things out, gather supplies, make copies, set up bulletin boards and more.
Take them to visit the elderly and shut-ins. This teaches them how to interact with the elderly which is not entirely predictable, particularly if some of the elderly people have dementia or alzheimer’s.
Ask the high-school aged boys to participate in worship by reading scripture, leading prayer, assisting with the Lord’s Supper, leading singing, or giving a short invitation. I suggest having a few training sessions prior to doing this so they are clear on what is expected. Don’t pressure this point—not all men are comfortable with a public role in the service—but make sure an opportunity is provided.
I’m sure there are many other service-oriented tasks that we can involve our children in and I hope that the above list stimulates some ideas that you can integrate in your congregation.