When asked to summarize his theology, Karl Barth, the prolific Swiss theologian, was said to have simply replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Now the question is, “How do we get that message to children?” Often this question has been answered through program and curriculum, and the challenge becomes to make the program fun, jazzy, and exciting enough that kids will want to be there. That just may be getting more difficult all the time as children are growing up in a world where they have access to all kinds of exciting things through the world of technology. Try competing with that!
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Maybe the key word is love. While children are growing up with more and more technology, they aren’t necessarily growing up with more and more love. They aren’t growing up with more and more relational connection. Maybe it’s our ministry to incarnate the love of Jesus and the Word of God in a way that children can feel. And for them to feel it, even though they may not be able to express it, we are going to have to be able to communicate in their love language. It’s at this point that Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, may prove helpful.
Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation
Let the children know individually how happy you are to see them, how great they look, how well they did something, how important they are, and what God thinks of them.
Love Language #2: Quality Time
Do things with the children that they enjoy. Take time to listen. If possible, break up into smaller groups so that each child can have more of your time. Come alongside them as they work on the lesson. Attend one of their activities.
Love Language #3:Receiving Gifts
Remember birthdays with a cake. Reward accomplishments in a way that everyone can accomplish something. Reward kindness, and caring, and working hard, and good questions, and, ______ you fill in the blank. A small amount of candy can make a big gift.
Love Language #4:Acts of Service
Let them serve. Let them know what a difference they are making. Visit a nursing home. Clean part of the church building. Visit a shut-in. Be together as you work and tell them how proud you are of them.
Love Language #5: Physical Touch
When appropriate, offer a pat on the shoulder or a touch on the head. Be close to them.
Simply allow the person of Jesus to reach out and love children through you. It’s one of the main reasons you are in children’s ministry. You love kids. Rely on the Holy Spirit to touch children through you. It’s what you have prayed for. It’s the intangible in working with children, and in the end, it just might make all the difference in the world.
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