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
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
"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?