Should kids be the targets of outreach or the tools of outreach?

(This is part one of a series on Outreach & Kids.)

When most churches talk about outreach to children, what do they mean? VBS. But have you noticed how many of the kids at your church’s VBS come to you “un-reached?” If we’re honest and accurate, most of us would have to say, “Not many.” (In fact, if you’re new to children’s ministry, here’s a tip: don’t schedule your VBS at the end of summer unless you want your program to be filled with kids whose parents were looking for cheap, safe babysitting. By the end of summer, bored students may be on their tenth week of the VBS “theme of choice” for the year.)

So how can churches actually do outreach to kids? That’s the question that many churches and missions agencies are now trying to answer. Some of the discussion we hear:

  • Outreach to kids is critical because they’ll bring their parents.
  • Make sure to offer quality childcare at every meeting.
  • Have more socials to build friendships between adult leaders and kids.

But I have concerns about these answers!

  • Are kids not valuable enough to reach out to them…just because? I may take this one personally, since I was led to the Lord in the 4/14 window of my life and never got my parents to attend church. I hope the church I attended in Sacramento doesn’t feel they wasted their investment!
  • Childcare is for the benefit of the parents, not the children. Maybe we need to refuse to provide childcare for certain programs so our over-scheduled kids could stay home one night?

Now…building relationships…this is getting closer to something of value! But why do we always focus on adult/child relationships exclusively? Yes, they’re vital to children’s ministry, but not the only ones that count. Why don’t we work harder to help our kids develop relationships with other kids? And especially with their non-Christian friends?

In a day and age when most adults and church leaders can’t get into schools and most parents are not sharing the gospel with their own kids, who’s left to do the work of reaching out to non-Christian kids? Maybe our own Christian kids?

Maybe we need to start thinking of kids as the tools for outreach as well as the targets of our outreach. With 2.2 billion children in the world, it’s time we enlisted the 1/3 who know Jesus to share their faith with the 2/3 who don’t!

How do we get kids involved in outreach to their peers?

  • Set the example and share your own stories. Kids naturally adopt the values of those by whom they feel loved. When’s the last time you shared your faith with your peers? Tell your kids.
  • Train your kids to share their own stories. It’s not hard, but if you need help, respond to this blog and ask for a copy of a free tool to help you get started.
  • Have your kids report back to church. Kids discern quickly what you value. When you have students share their experiences, it sets the bar for others!
  • Pray as a class, a church and in your own closet…that your students will have incredible impact!

When our students are prepared to be involved in presenting the message, they grow personally, they get excited about life, they claim their faith as their own and they become an incredible force for bringing their 2.2 billion peers to eternal salvation!

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