If a child is named and intentionally included in the life of a church community…by 5 adults…there is a greater chance that they will feel at home.
“At home” in such a throwaway line.
How amazing would it be for a child to feel at home in a church community?
For a child to feel at home in a service of worship?
For a child to feel at home at a church coffee morning?
For a child to feel at home in a bible study?
Research shows that when a child is named, intentionally included and encouraged by 5 adults in a church congregations, they will start to feel at home.
Obviously there are all those other things that help…for instance, the child needs to feel physically and emotionally safe, they need to find some friends, they need to hear a few things in words they can understand. Still, it goes a LONG way to have 5 adults know about you and look out for you, and intentionally share some time and conversation.
Unfortunately, many adults feel they are not qualified to talk to children or teenagers at church. They have lived through the era of age-segregated activities, where we were led to believe that specialist knowledge was needed to engage with others. Or they get the impression that talking to children will be frowned upon.
The Anglican Church Southern Queensland has clear policies and procedures for engaging with children, see a copy here and as long as these are adhered to, it is encouraged that we generate an authentic community within our parishes, and letting children know that they are welcome and belong is indeed central to the mission of Jesus.
Here is a list of possible questions to ask children when you have a moment after church.
· What’s your favourite book?
· Which super hero do you like best?
· What have you noticed that needs prayer in your world at the moment?
· DC or Marvel? (trust me, you don’t even have to know that these are the two main “stables” of super hero characters…just ask the question…and you’ll soon be filled in with the rest!)
· Tell me about the last movie you saw.
· Hey…can you explain “YouTubers” to me?
· If you were a character in a film or a series, which would you be and why?
· What do you like to do in your spare time?
· Played any sport recently? What positions do you like best?
· Tell me about your sporting/dancing/acting/life heroes.
· What did you like in the service this morning?
· Are you an iPhone person or android? (for teens!! ) What do you recommend about that choice?
· When I was your age, my hobbies were …….does anyone do those anymore? What hobbies do you know about?
· Open a discussion about what little things have changed…like lollies. We used to buy lollies one at a time, and you could get 10 different sorts in one bag if you liked. That seems like magic to kids. You and another adult could remember your favourites, and draw kids into the conversation by opening up the floor to gather ideas for best lolly award!
Questions that kids can ask adults:
· What was your favourite sweet/lolly as a kid?
· How did you get to school when you were my age?
· What was your favourite hobby? Do you still do it?
· Can you teach me how to tie my shoe?
· Can you teach me how to tie a tie?
· What do you do when you have to give a talk in public and you’re nervous?
· When did you first choose to become a ….?
· Have you always been a Christian?
· Tell me about how you found out about Church.
· What do you like about coming to Church on a Sunday?
· If you could have any actor play you in a film of your life, who would it be?
· What was your first ever job?