Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Child Support

I have been thinking about children's ministry some lately.

On Sunday morning, we had 107 shoeboxes that had been packed and wrapped for Operation Christmas Child and placed around our communion table. I asked the people of the congregation to each take one at the end of the service and move it to the church entryway so they could be loaded into a member's truck to be delivered. What I saw amazed me - many people took boxes and helped move them, but several of the younger boys really got into helping load the truck with enthusiasm and joy. I didn't plan for it to be a tool of engaging the boys in the church in something meaningful - just kind of happened that way (grace?!)

With the general imbalance in today's church between adult men and women, I had a glimmer of hope in watching the boys enjoy what they were doing. I would love to hear ideas about how to specifically minister to boys? Any success stories out there?


Earl said...

Get a ball, any kind of ball. Get some hotdogs or maybe even some hamburgers, etc. Get some inexpensive Bibles, paperback whatever that you can give to each boy. Buy plenty of them because the boys will misplace/loose the Bibles and you'll also want to have extra copies to give to their parent(s) when you make visits in the home. Depending on the area in which you live, come up with some sort of game that boys will want to play. I have found softball, tag football and kickball to be popular choices. During March you can use kites while swimming would be an attractive option during the warmer months. You might also find camping and hiking to be good choices. Of course praise those who play well in the game and conduct themselves in a Christlike manner. Follow the game time with a specific Bible study focused on the needs of the boys in your group. Have the boys use highlighters, etc. to mark the passages of Scripture they study. Help them find practical ways to apply what they learn to their own lives. Keep things simple and use an appropriate vocabulary so that no one will be left out due to difficulties with language, etc. Recognize and praise those who apply themselves to the study. Follow with the hotdogs or hamburgers. Involve adults in the congregation to help you with running the games and doing the Bible study. Sunday School classes will likely be willing to sponsor the hotdogs and hamburgers. Make sure to visit the homes where they boys live and get to know their parent(s). The foregoing approach has been useful to me in building children and youth groups comprised of both boys and girls. You will not reach all the boys, but you will reach some of them. And what is more, you will have the opportunity to reach their families. I have personally seen this approach bear a rich harvest as boys and girls and their fathers and mothers have been won to faith in Christ.

Mark Winter said...

Earl is right: keep their bodies moving. Boys like activity. Bible study should be as kinesthetic as possible.

On a side note, my wife has worked a part-time seasonal job with Operation Christmas Child for the last four or five years. Our youth group gave about 40 boxes and we kicked in several, as well. It's a great ministry and one that many United Methodist Churches are involved in.

revjfletcher said...

big breakfasts are usually a treat as well. Of course lunch and dinner are important, but I don't know, there's something unique about a huge breakfast.

Dan Trabue said...

I have a friend who adopted two girls when their mother passed away (the father was absentee) and unofficially adopted a street tough 12 year old boy and his mother (the mother had some severe limitations).

Today (6 very expensive exhausting years later) they are finishing up high school and doing great.

That couple saved their lives.

That might be an extreme example, but God bless those foster and adoptive parents out there!

Jehovah Judah said...

I don't mean to offend, but I have just gotten out of my youth group at my local church, and am now in college. I personally have found it annoying and offensive when adults within the church think that the only thing they can do with children and youth is entertain and teach. I grew up wanting to do something useful with my life, but I quickly came to the realization that ministry would only be available for me to do once I reached college or adult age. Please do not give us games, and games, and games and think that a short bible study at the end will minister to our needs. The closest thing I got to actually ministry during my youth was managing to get permission to organize old sermons into an organized, and archived list to make it easier for people to get ahold of. It was the most boring thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding experience of my youth. Please, the children and youth are a part of the body of Christ. Give us something to do that is meaningful.

regina said...

There is a significant body of evidence that separating boys and girls at junior high age (say 11-13) is a tremendous way to boost there emotional development. In two churches that I've worked in, I've split the kids at that age for Sunday School in one case and youth group in another. We had better attendance, and a better opportunity to work with kids one on one. As for activities for boys, letting them run around is always a good idea. Get to know what they are interested in (my guys loved WWE, so I would make sure to watch it and the first thing we did was discuss what happened.) That helped us have something in common. And when we did projects, I always created an attitude of expectation for them -- that the church needed them to accomplish the task, and I believed they were fully capable of doing it. This seemed to both increase their confidence and make them feel like they are truly a part of the community.