You may remember him. First time visitor. Indeed, first time ever in a church. Neighbor kid. Invited by someone from your congregation who lives nearby. Sitting in the back quietly. Unsure. Needing connection. So, you make your way to him before children’s church begins, introducing yourself and getting to know him. Did you know that this moment would stay with the boy for the rest of his days? Did you know that your simple gesture of kindness and consistent subsequent connections, helping the boy to connect not only with you, but also with his new peers, would alter the trajectory of his life?
Relationships are fertile soil for heart work. Any effort to lead children to follow Jesus as Lord must be rooted in relationships, first with God and also with each other. Curriculum comes and goes. So do object lessons, props, pyro-technics, thematic environments, logos, mission statements, and tricked out websites…. Relationships and their influence endure.
Every child you pastor or teach needs relationship on multiple levels: family, extended family, peer friendships, larger community, etc. Obviously some are caught up in the decisions of parents or the hard realities of life. Divorce, death of a parent, a parent in prison, or perhaps the child was born out of wedlock, to name a few. I am sure you have heard the prayer requests of these kids whispered in your ear, as they weep over matters they cannot control. So, they cling to you, trusting the connection you have initiated with them, and in turn, learning to trust God.
Here is the simple reality I implore you to consider. The latest curriculum fad cannot replace a listening ear. A well-executed object lesson cannot replace a well-timed smile and high five. The coolest props, pyrotechnics, and thematic environments cannot replace attentive, caring, accountable interaction with you and your frontline ministry colleagues. In short, the children can live without cutting edge logos, highly refined mission statements, and state-of-the-art websites. They cannot live without godly relationships. They need God. They need their families. They need you.