Kids Are NOT The Problem!
by Jeff and Debby McElroy
Jeff and Debby McElroy are the founders of Forever Families Inc., and are one of the most sought-after couples on the national speaking circuit. Their Home Improvement Conferences have strengthened families around the country. Also award-winning actors, they uniquely mix their creativity with wit, wisdom and spiritual insight to create an engaging experience that opens hearts and inspires relationships. They have two children, Kristen and Trevan, who see themselves called to carry the same burden for families of the next generation. foreverfamilies.com
If you’ve been in children’s ministry for any time at all, you know kids are rarely the problem. Rather, they are the barometer of the problems within their homes. After all, the easiest part of kids ministry is the kids, right? It’s the parents that are the difficult part of the job!
So, we all agree that kids will either struggle under or stand upon the foundation of their families. The question is, then, how do we help impact those families?
Ideas for this are too numerous to mention in this article, so we’ll focus on some we think are the most strategic. These are ideas we’ve seen churches use that have been successful. They’re also ones that will help you connect your senior-adult ministry to your kids ministry—and we suggest this strategy for a couple of reasons.
First, it connects kids who need wisdom with those who have it. Have you ever considered that the eldest people in our churches are part of the last generation still living that knows what it was like in America when the institution of family was strong? They are a reference point for us all. If we have any chance of returning to a sense of traditional values, then we need to expose our kids to their memories and life lessons!
Second, you’re enlisting influencers who could help to get your parents involved! Parents will not only hear about opportunities from their kids, but they’ll also get some mentoring pressure from the other end of the age spectrum! Hey, it never hurts to have seniors backing up your kidmin budget, either. The more they see your vision, the more they’ll become your advocates!
Old Fashioned Games Day. Create a carnival atmosphere with various booths set up for games. Each booth is an old-fashioned game, taught by a senior adult who played the game growing up. After teaching the kids and their parents how to play that game, the senior tells a brief story about what his or her childhood was like at the age they were when they played the game.
How this impacted families. Not only did kids learn and play the games with their family, but they also got a snapshot of what family is supposed to be, and they connected with a senior adult who took time to play a game with them. The man who taught the game of marbles actually has a group of boys who now bring marbles with them every first Sunday and play after church with the senior adult men!
Adopt a Grandparent. Reserve five minutes to speak at the beginning of a senior-adult ministry class. Ask if any would like to volunteer to be an “adopted grandparent” to children in the church who don’t have a relationship with or access to their grandmother or grandfather.
How this impacted families. The children’s minister went to the senior-adult ministry and asked who would be willing to volunteer to be an adopted grandparent for kids in the church who don’t have one close to them. They created a poster that read: “Adopt a Grandparent! Some of our senior adults don’t have grandkids close by and have nobody to take fishing, teach how to bake, read books to, or go see at concerts or recitals. If you don’t have a grandparent close and would like to adopt one of these sweet people, take a name and have your parents give them a call!” They glued a note pad to the sign. Each page had the name, email address and phone number of a senior volunteer. They haven’t been able to keep up with the demand! (As with all of your volunteers, be sure to institute a background check and “never alone” policy with your adopted grandparents.)
The great news is, as a kids minister, you have the best chance of reaching the families of the church more than any other ministry. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Parents are notorious for saying they want help, only to fail to accept it when you offer it! When that happens (and it will), don’t lose heart. Their lack of response is a reflection not of your lack of effectiveness as a minister but of their lack of priorities as a parent. Your responsibility is to offer the help; theirs is to receive it. The fight is worth it, though. A generation hangs in the balance!
4 Easy Ways to Connect Kids With Seniors
Here are some other great ideas we’ve witnessed of how you can connect your kidmin with your senior-adult ministry:
1. Combined Choir Events. Combine the senior-adult and children’s choirs for a special presentation.
2. Grandparents Appreciation Dinners. Have the children’s ministry treat the seniors to a nice meal and concert of their favorite, old songs.
3. Grandkids Rock Event. Have the seniors return the favor on another night.
4. Parent Mentoring Roundtables: For your parents’ night out, charge more, but offer a discount for parents who attend a 40-minute Q&A with your seniors.