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No Shame On You

Laycie Costigan

STEP 3: Think Before You Communicate
Your choice of words is critical. Whenever you focus on a child or a group of kids-even as an audience-first spend time and thought sculpting what you'll say, because these experiences are incredibly impactful for kids. So if you're going to point out how you saw little Abigail help a teacher clean up after class or you're addressing the large group from stage, put forethought into it.
Every interaction you have with kids needs to pass through the filters of value, respect, and love for those children as individuals. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Value: How will I convey the value these children have in God's eyes and in mine?
  • Respect: What words will I use to express respect? What words will I eliminate from my language because they don't express respect?
  • Love: How will I ensure that kids feel my love and God's love through my communication with them?

STEP 4: Let Kids Practice Grace
As you lead kids by example and infuse your words and interactions with grace, let kids practice what they're learning about grace. This is key to cementing grace into their lives and helping them understand that shame and guilt aren't what faith is about.
"We work service projects into our weekly teaching strategy," says Jonathan Cliff, next generations pastor at Trinity Church in Lubbock, Texas. "Each project brings the kids a need in our local community and gives them the chance to demonstrate to their families what they've learned [about grace]."
By providing various avenues for kids to serve each other, families, church, community, and others in the world, you'll give them opportunities to be successful at loving others just because. When you let kids experience what it means to give grace, they understand better God's grace for them. They inherently understand that their service isn't about shaming the people they're helping; it's about loving those people to echo God's love for us.

STEP 5: Look Within
The previous steps are all practical ways you can infuse your ministry with a message of grace rather than shame. But there's one underlying and monumentally important aspect to conquer to ensure you pour grace into your ministry. You yourself must be immersed in the concept of grace. Kids have profound detectors for the inauthentic. You can't teach or model grace to your kids unless you believe it applies to you, too. Do you believe that even though you probably won't ever fully understand why, God loves you despite your every infraction and flaw? Even though grace is a difficult thing to wrap your human head around, does your heart know and trust its promise? Have you learned to accept God's grace for your flaws? Are you squirming yet?

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