By: Crystal Mazzuca
What does it mean to belong?
In our culture today, we “belong” to a lot of things. We join clubs and teams. We serve on HOA’s and committees. We associate belonging with participating in an activity with others.
But what does it mean to know you belong?
That goes a little deeper. Knowing deep down you belong is more than a name on a roster or participation in an event. It means you know you are accepted, wanted, and valued. You feel like you have a purpose and meaning.
We all long for this deeper sense of belonging. In a world that is telling young people to look within to fill that ache, we, as the church, get to speak to who God created them to be. We get to help them see, know, and feel that they always have a place to belong within His family. In a world that is telling young people to look within to fill that ache, we, as the church, get to speak to who God created them to be. We get to help them see, know, and feel that they always have a place to belong within His family. Click To Tweet
Break Down Barriers
Before we start cultivating a culture of belonging, we should recognize and overcome barriers that can keep a child from feeling like our churches are a place where they feel seen, known, and valued.
What happens when a child walks through our doors? Is it chaos? Cliques? Does someone new feel like everyone knows someone except them?
From the get-go, let’s create a space and a culture at church where everyone feels like they have a place. Let’s call kids by name, help them find connections with others, and let every child that walks through our doors know that they are welcomed and wanted.
What’s one thing you can do this weekend to break down barriers to belonging?
Celebrate Every Child
Too often, young people feel like they have to change themselves in order to belong. They need to talk different, act different, think different, and be different. But we know the truth. We know that God made each and every one of them amazing and wonderful just the way they are. So, let’s make sure they know that!
In our ministries, let’s celebrate every child. Let’s get to know them, show interest in them, and help them find things in common with each other. Let’s help them know that they are loved and valued just the way they are.
What’s one thing you can do to celebrate every child this weekend?
Be a Part of a Team
Belonging isn’t passive. It’s active. Kids don’t want to just be there—they want to feel like they have purpose and can participate. We get the amazing opportunity to help the children who come to our ministry be a part of something bigger than themselves. They get to play, learn, grow, and contribute as a part of a team.
When we plan games and activities where kids work together and cheer one another on, they know they are valued. When we give them the chance to create, explore, learn, and laugh as part of a team, kids know they are wanted.
What’s one thing you can do this weekend to help kids be a part of a team?
True belonging doesn’t happen by accident. But through intentional effort on our part as ministry leaders, we can help children start down that path of knowing they are seen, known, valued, and loved.
Crystal Mazzuca is a Content Editor for Lifeway’s Hyfi and Kids’ Short Term Studies. With an MA in Christian Education Administration, she has a passion to encourage and equip leaders to impact the next generation for Christ. She’s spent the last 20 years in Kids, Student, and Family Ministry and loves serving both the big C church and her local church in Olympia, WA. Crystal loves reading, going to the beach, and playing video games with her 3 sons.