We hear and read a lot about needing men in children’s ministry. We need good men to be good role models for kids – especially those kids who come from single-parent families. Just last month Larry Fowler guest-posted on our blog, asking the question “Where Are the Men?”.
Fortunately, churches now seem to be more aware of that need and are encouraging men to get involved.
Still – how can a man make a significant impact when club (or any church ministry) is only one or two hours a week?
(For the purpose of clarity, this post is written from the perspective of a man leading boys … however, that male role model is just as important in the life of a girl – whether she comes from a single-parent home or her father isn’t all that involved in her life.)
Here are some suggestions.
1 . Learn the clubbers’ names. The first step in connecting with a child is learning (and not forgetting his name). Write it down or add it to your smart phone – whatever it takes. Then remember to call the child/teen by his name every time you see him.
2. Get excited about his accomplishments whether at club or things he tells you about at school or in sports.
3. Give lots of high fives. He finishes a Discovery? Give him a high five. He’s first to knock down the pin? Give him a high five. He helps the new kid? Give him a high five.
4. Ask about his week. Then listen to his answers. Is he worried about a big test? Are his parents getting a divorce? Is his soccer team in the playoffs? Then next week, ask him how he did or how it’s going. You might be the ONLY adult in his life who listens to his weekly updates.
5. Play some extreme energy games with these kids – especially the boys. Play some energetic bombardment. If you have a large church yard, set up a 1/4 mile track or make an obstacle course and let them go. (You could invite the girls to use the track or obstacle course, too.)
6. Go to their games or school plays. Occasionally take your own family to watch a clubber’s softball game or other event. Or, why not get a group of leaders to go watch a game or event? (Beware of spending any alone time with a child – you always need two or three adults.)
7. Encourage them however you can.
“Wow, I can tell you were working on those books of the Bible. Did the flashcards help?”
“I liked the good sportsmanship you showed tonight. That’s commendable.”
“You’ve made it to club three weeks in a row! Good for you. I know it’s sometimes hard for you to find someone to bring you.”
8. Be an example. More than anything, kids need an example of godly men and women to follow. Do they hear you complain about coming to club? Do they hear you talk to another leader about your horrible boss? Do they see you lose your temper or use inappropriate language?
9. Be consistent. This is so important for kids who don’t have a lot of stable adults in their lives (and even kids who do). Show up! You’ve made a commitment. Keep it. A clubber comes wanting more than anything to share his latest news – a good grade, a fun excursion when visiting dad, a scored goal in soccer. And you aren’t there because you’re tired. Wow! That might not mean a lot to you, but that can be a big deal to that lost little kid who looks up to you.
Sure, everyone misses once in a while. If you can, let the clubbers know beforehand. “Sorry, I won’t be here next week, our family will be out of town.” If you have a last-minute cancellation because of sickness, etc., let the director know and ask the director to mention it to the kids. “Tom won’t be at club tonight because he has a fever and a sore throat and didn’t want you all to catch it.”
10. Pray for the clubbers. We don’t always know the circumstances kids face at home, but the Lord does. Pray regularly for your clubbers and let them KNOW that you’re praying for them. Ask them if they have any specific requests – so you can pray for the specific situation – however, stop them from confiding anything that should be kept inside the family. (Of course, if you see a dangerous situation, you need to take the necessary steps to intervene.)
AND IF YOU’RE THE COMMANDER OR DIRECTOR …
11. Ask men with strong, godly testimonies to give the Large Group lesson. This is important not only for the boys, but also the girls. Ask leaders … and men (who might not be leaders but are active in other areas of the church) to take a turn presenting the lesson.
12. Recognize that by simply showing up, a man can make an impression on a kid. In many churches, the majority of people who work in children’s ministry are women. Women do a great job, but kids need to know that there are men who are also excited about their faith. Just a man’s presence in a room can make a difference. Encourage men to participate whether or not they’ve worked in children’s ministry before.