In kids ministry, we don\’t just work with kids; we work with families. And some of those families are in crisis. Parents are struggling with threat of losing their jobs or may be unemployed. Families struggle with debt or with just having enough money. Kids feel these pressures and stresses within the family.
What are some things we as kids ministers and teachers do to help?
We can listen. Sometimes kids or parents need to talk about what is happening or what they are feeling. We don\’t need to have all the answers. We can listen and support with our presence. Just listening, without offering solutions, can be a help.
For kids, we can help them feel more secure by being a safe place to express fear, anger, or sadness. Parents may be working multiple jobs and be available to kids. This can create unease or insecurity for kids. Listening to these concerns, and helping kids know that their feelings are normal and "okay," is an important way to minister.
We can offer help. Be aware of church and community resources that are available for families in crisis. Offer these resources to parents–when they ask for help. Ask, "How can I help?" Parents may have some specific needs that you can meet personally. Or you may know a person that can give just what the parents need. Your church’s ministries may be able to provide financial management classes or job preparation classes. As Christians we can lift up our brothers and sisters, helping them in ways that maintain respect and love.
We can support. In addition to listening and help, look for ways to connect with the family or the child. Send notes that express your concern. Invite the family to your house for a meal and games. Offer friendship in many small ways.
Also we can help our kids think about others in crisis and need. One ministry of my church is a food closet to give food to people who come to our church looking for help. Recently I was talking with a 7-year-old friend about the project the RAs and GAs were doing; they were collecting food for the food closet. "Did you know that there are some people who don\’t have enough food?" my friend asked. We talked about that for a few minutes. The kids in my church were learning about ministry to people around them and how to help.
Financial stress can be difficult for a family. But kids ministry can help. What ways does your kids ministry and your church help families in financial crisis?
This is a constant concern in our community. We minister in an area with a 20% unemployment rate. During the winter months that rate goes even higher.
All of the things already listed here on the blog are vital. In addition, here are a few other things we are doing:
(1) Pray with the kids – We do this both in our Sunday School and our weekly community-wide Teen Ministry where we also offer a free meal and inspirational talk and/or Bible Study.
(2) Our community is over 90% hispanic and many of the adults are English language learners, so during the winter months, when the unemployment is highest, we offer Free Adult English Classes along with a short devotion and prayer time. This winter we also hope to offer a Kids Bible Club (free child care) for the children of our students during class time.
3) We are currently in the process of setting up a computer lab that will provide free internet access to assist in job searches and education.
Above all, in everything we do, we strive to point people to Jesus and demonstrate His love for them.