Creating a Conversation
When I was a kid, the longest part of Sunday morning wasn’t the drive to church, the Sunday school hour, or even the worship service. The longest part of Sunday morning was the time after the service when all the grown-ups stood around and talked. My stomach was rumbling, my shiny Mary Janes had begun to pinch my toes, and many of my friends had already left. And yet Mom and Dad kept talking. And talking. And talking.
Several feet shorter than the conversing groups of adults, I often felt invisible, amusing myself by twirling around my mom’s legs, down near the floor where nobody bothered to look. Heard from my knee-high position, this grown-up conversation, like the “mwahhmwahhmwahh” of the adults in a Peanuts movie, was unintelligible at worst and uninteresting at best.
But every so often, one of those adults would stop talking to my mom or dad and would bend down on my level. The church member would look me in the eye, smile, and ask a question to me. All of a sudden, I’d forget my hunger and my shoes. I’d forget my boredom. This person thought I was important! This person wanted to know me!
Forming the Next Generation Starts Now
As churches everywhere shake their heads in frustration over declining commitment among younger generations, we need to remember that a person’s commitment to the church is often formed early—perhaps earlier than we think. And commitment to the church grows in small ways—a single grown-up who takes an interest in a young child can make all the difference in how that little one experiences the church.
Even a simple question or two, asked with a smile, can teach a child that he or she is welcomed and valued in the congregation. When we do this, we model Christ who invited children, affirmed their importance to the kingdom, and commanded his disciples to make it easy for little ones to meet him.
On Sunday morning after church, ask a young child one of these questions. You can begin with one of the questions designed to simply get to know him or her and move toward one of the questions that engages his or her faith. Whatever you ask, it will probably be the start of a great conversation, and it might even awaken love for the church in the next generation.
Even a simple question or two, asked with a smile, can teach a child that he or she is welcomed and valued in the congregation.
Get to Know Kids
- What’s your name? (Be sure to say your name, too.)
- How old are you?
- What treat would you like to eat on your birthday? (Kids are always planning their next birthday.)
- What’s your favorite _____ (animal, sport, color, candy, etc.)
- Who do you like to play with? What do you play with him/her?
- What makes that person a good friend?
- What’s something that made you laugh today?
- What’s something that made you feel disappointed today?
- What’s something you know how to do really well?
- What’s something you’d like to learn how to do?
Engage Kids’ Faith
- What’s your favorite song that we sang in church today?
- Why do you especially like that one?
- What’s your favorite Bible story?
- What’s the best part of that story?
- What’s something you know about Jesus?
- What’s something you are curious about Jesus?
- What’s something that makes you worried?
- Who do you talk to when you have a problem? How does that person help?
- What’s one way God has helped you?
- How can I pray for you?
Megan Hill is the author of Meg Is Not Alone.
We need to be intentional about catechizing our kids with what is truly good, truly beautiful, truly life-changing, and life-saving, and God-glorifying.
To a youth pastor who is feeling discouraged, your reward is in heaven where you’ll see in glory the things that Jesus has done through your ministry, you’ll see the fruit of your labor.
We have the responsibility to train our children in the faith, and yet the whole church has this responsibility to hold parents accountable.
C. S. Lewis provides a case study of what is missing from most youth ministries in the United States.