The familiar phrase and notion, “to see and be seen” is often intended to suggest something that is socially motivated. There are plenty of engagements such as Christmas parties, family gatherings, bridal showers and business lunches that are designed to be a “pop-in” event where people spend more time getting dressed for the occasion than actually attending it! Surely you have some of these in mind. Some church goers also have a reputation for this mindset—making sure folks see them at Easter and Christmas, checking a box that suits their reputation. Certainly we’ve all had times where we’d like to show up, take our name tag, shake a few hands and hug a few necks—and then slip out the back. As long as we see the people we need to see (and they see us), then we are good to go!
Though this phrase may sound shallow in nature or potentially like a bad thing, I want to make the case for seeing and being seen as something good—particularly when it comes to children. In light of all the isolation and social distancing, the kids we are serving in our churches are craving tangible real-life relationships. They need to feel seen and known by their church family and they, in return, need to see smiling, friendly, godly adults who are ready to welcome them inside.
How can we ensure this is happening in our ministry? Perhaps we could reframe the phrase “see and be seen” as a coaching principle for our volunteers and leaders. The goal would be to make certain they “see” each child and that they are “seen” as an adult who that child can trust and know each time they are there. If those two things are accomplished by each person, then you can be sure the culture of your ministry is going to be one where kids feel like they belong to their church—not just attend. They will feel seen and known and be excited to see their leaders each time they come back. So, maybe give it a try this week and see how it goes! Let’s make kids ministry a place to see and be seen, laying a foundation of relational trust that sets the stage for sharing the love of Jesus.
Jana Magruder serves as the Strategic Initiatives Director of Lifeway Kids in Nashville, TN. With a background in education, publishing, and ministry, she loves championing the local church to help families disciple kids of all ages. She is the author of Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. Jana and her husband, Michael, are native Texans planted in Tennessee and love to explore both states with their three teenagers.