I’ve been involved in some type of ministry to children for over 25 years. I’ve seen many kids grow from infants to now having children of their own. One of the more challenging adventures in children’s ministry, but the most rewarding, is building relationships with the kids you minister to. If you are lucky enough to stay in a ministry environment for any length of time, you get the added benefit of building those relationships on a deeper level.
Relationship can be defined as the connection between two or more objects, ideas, or people. The root idea of relationship comes through connection. The key to building those relationships lies in making valuable connections with the kids you minister to. These relationships are important as you get to know kids and build their trust. Once they trust you, they will better hear and listen to your teaching and ministry goals.
Here are a baker’s dozen tips in building those lasting relationships.
- Respect: Respect is a necessity for any type of relationship you form to be successful. Showing respect to kids is a valuable tool in building a relationship of trust and security, something that all kids need to feel while at church. That respect will also grow both ways as girls and boys begin to show you the same respect you show them.
- Experiences: As someone in ministry you get to create the experiences that boys and girls have while at church. Those experiences, and your participation in them, will be a great tool in making connections with kids.
- Learning: Be an active learner of the kids you minister. Find out their likes and dislikes. Know what they read, watch on TV, and play on their game consoles. Be a learner.
- Active: Kids ministry is active. Anytime you can, within reason, participate actively in games and other adventures kids are involved in.
- Truthful: This should go without saying, but you need to always be truthful with kids. Kids know when we are not being truthful and may begin to doubt and thus hamper the relationship building that is taking place.
- Imaginative: Kids have wonderful imaginations and, as a leader in their ministry, affirm ideas that they come up with. Try new things no matter how silly they might sometimes seem. Playing along with imaginative play will go a long way in building those relationships.
- Observant: Be observant of a kids demeanor and attitude. Has something changed? Can you pinpoint what it is? Talk about it with kids. As you are observant kids will appreciate the time you spend taking notice of them.
- Nice: Again, this should be fairly obvious but you should always be nice. Sometimes we like to joke around with kids and in a way may inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. This ties back in with respect from earlier and as we talk with and share with boys and girls we should always do it in a nice respectful manner.
- Sticky: Being sticky simply means that relationships are a tight knit bond. If you are a sticky friend, you will not leave someone in need without a helping hand. Sticky friends have great relationships.
- Helpful: Be helpful. If you see someone in the hall struggling to carry things, jump right in there and help them out. If you see someone down in the dumps, jump right in there and chat with them. Being helpful is a subtle way of telling someone that they are important to you and will certainly build that relationship bond.
- Individualistic: You surely know that each person is an individual and has her own specific needs and desires. Treat each kid you connect with as an individual and don’t compare them to other friends, siblings, or adults you know.
- Polite: Just another catchy way of saying respect! Politeness shows a respect of others and is another strong way to build relationships.
- Supportive: Supports are used to make sure a structure doesn’t fall over. As a supportive friend you help a child maintain his ability to stand tall and not fall over. Support a child’s dreams and aspirations and be known as someone who will keep them firm and solid.
Work to build those relationships with boys and girls and watch as they begin to share with you in many new and exciting ways. As an example of Christ to the girls and boys you lead building strong relationships will serve them well.
Tim Pollard teaches 3rd graders at Tulip Grove Baptist Church. He’s passionate about helping kids dig deep into Scripture, which he pursues through his daily work as leader of the Explore the Bible: Kids team. Tim lives with his wife and daughters in Mount Juliet, TN.