Ruth Hernandez has worked with T&T aged girls at Central Bible Church, Aurora, Illinois for more than 20 years. Currently 2/3 of the kids who attend are non-churched. In fact, some have been in the country for only a few months and do not speak English. Thanks, Ruth, for guest logging with us today and sharing some of your ideas.
How do you reach non-churched kids?
Good question! More than 2/3 of the kdis who attend our Awana program are non-churched. Why do they keep coming back? I can summarize in two short words: WOW THEM!
WOW them with fun. Fun is the hook that gets them in the door. Fun is what keeps them wanting to come back. And, fun can be accomplished in a multitude of ways. How? Here are some things that have worked for us.
1. Theme Nights – Regularly plan special nights whether that’s Backwards Night, Birthday Night, Bring-a-Friend Night, Super-sized night, Black-out Night. This last is the #1 favorite at our club! The lights stay off all night (except exit lights for safety purposes), kids bring flashlights, hide clues around the church and have teams solve a mystery. Large Group Lesson can be that the Lord Jesus is the Light of the World.
2. Creative Games. Think outside the box. What can be done with stuffed animals, marshmallows, ice cream buckets, refrigerator boxes?
What can be done outdoors? A nature scaventer hung? The usual games on a large scale? Water games? Obstacle course?
3. Extra Activities. Plan family events – craft day, baking day, pizza party, extreme sports day, work day (clean the church, do yard work for seniors.) This is a great way to get to know the parents.
4. Keep them off balance. T&T aged kids love surprises. So spring something new and unexpected on them such as mixing up the order of events, having a special speaker, wearing a crazy costume. (Or put a wrapped package in plain view all night. It could contain the object lesson for the devotional talk, a prize for the one who said the most sections, a treat for everyone “just because.”
WOW them with the truth of God’s Word.
*Start in Genesis and continue straight through Scripture. Teach the epic plan of salvation. From start to finish, God’s Word demonstrates the amazing truth of His unfailin love.
*Keep it simple. Always use easy-to-understand terminology. In the simplicity of God’s truth, there is majesty which wows every one of us.
*Make God’s Word come alive through action or visuals.
*Have the clubbers act out the story. A simple hat or prop can create the character and it takes no practice on their part, they act as you teach.
*Use a bag of stinky, slimy garbage. Dump it on the floor and explain: If you put garbage into the bag (your life), you will get garbage out (the consequences). Believe me, this will grab their attention and teach a valuable lesson.
*Sing songs with motions. The songs communicate God’s truths; the actions keep them busy and help them focus on the actual meaning of the words they sing. Singing the truth of God’s Word is a fun way to wow the clubbers.
*Memorize with motions. The action puts meaning to the words and helps ingrain that meaning in one’s mind. Kids who have a hard time memorizing will be so excited to say a completely-memorized verse.
WOW them with your love.
This is huge! So many of our clubbers come from difficult, dysfunctional family situations. They come to club each week having heard no kind words that day and having experienced no affection of ay kind. Sadly, its the opposite: Mom is yelling, Dad is drunk and violent, brother’s lost in his video games; no one has paid any positive attention to this child. But we have the privilege to shine some love into their lives, to wow them with the love of Christ.
*Greet them with a genuine smile and ask how their day was.
*Praise them. They finished the game (even if it was third place). They said a verse with no help. They stood straight and quiet during games.
*Spend time with them in and out of club. Take another leader and drop by their home and give their mom a plate of cookies. Pause to chat about their school or sports team.
*Help them. Keep going over that verse with them. Show them the best way to go faster in the three-legged race. Help them with the stubborn zipper on their jacket.
*Look them in the eye. It takes time to just stop and pay attention to what is being said.
*Cheer for them. Yell their name as they’re running around the circle and get the team to do the same.
*Give appropriate side-armed hugs. Hugs are so significant.
*Listen to them. Really listen. But also pay attention to what they’re saying through their actions. Sometimes those actions will reveal more than the words they speak.
*Encourage them, “Keep working on that verse. You’re so close!”
*Smile at them.
These ideas have worked well for us. What can YOU do to WOW your clubbers? I guarantee that if you wow them with fun and with the truths of God’s Word and with your own love, they’ll come to your Awana club, they’ll keep coming back and they may even bring a friend.