This past semester, I have not been able to participate in the kids group ministry at my church due to obligations that came up this semester. However, I am now taking the time to think through “why?” we expend so much energy into these kids. Over the past couple years we as a leadership team have thought though both the why and how of the kids group. One of the things that I must constantly remind myself is that These kids are created in God’s image and our purpose is not to simply control behavior: our goal is to present them to Christ!
The gospel must be the central theme for the kids group. Everything must revolve around opportunities to live out the gospel before the kids and point the kids to Christ. Looking back over my childhood when I was going through kids group, my generation had a significant impact from our parents. This is something that I see missing in the particular generation to which I minister. However, in spite of this, I believe we can have effective ministry because the Spirit is really the most important factor.
Fully recognizing the role and work of the Spirit, we also try to organize the time with the kids to present the raw material (e.g. Scripture) which the Spirit uses. My generation was generally submissive to authority (especially our parents) and thus we were under control by the leaders with little effort – relatively speaking. The current generation does not recognize authority and the methods of control used on my generation really do not work. We try to overcome this difficulty by purposefully structuring our time.
We also give incentives to the kids for good behavior, but at the end of the day we have concluded that investing our lives one-on-one, as much as possible, is what God has called us to do. We can spend our entire time trying to teach good manners, obedience, Bible verses, or silly/serious songs, which are good things in their own right, but without that personal influence on the kids we do not feel our efforts will matter in light of eternity.