What you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing
“In essence,” the researcher noted, “what you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing. Of course, there are many individuals who go through life-changing experiences in which their beliefs are altered, or instances in which a concentrated body of religious teaching changes one or more core beliefs. However, most people’s minds are made up and they believe they know what they need to know spiritually by age 13. Their focus in absorbing religious teaching after that age is to gain reassurance and confirmation of their existing beliefs rather than to glean new insights that will redefine their foundations.” (Barna Group)
Are they ready to move on?
I work with elementary students and LOVE it! These are the years when they are still cute, inquisitive, think you are super cool and are still acting like themselves. Typically, they haven’t reached the stage where they have to act a certain way or do certain things to fit in and be cool. Seeing my fifth graders leave my children’s ministry program to move up to the middle school is bittersweet. Are they ready? Did I positively impact their lives with Christ?
Wait just a minute! I have to remind myself that God is working through me to reach His children. Of course they are ready! God is with them and will continue to be with them. They will need encouraging Christian teachers and role models to surround them helping them mature in their spiritual walk, but God’s got this. I’d encourage each of you to find reassurance in this too. Of course, we will continue to pray for “our” kids, but we can find peace in the knowledge that we have been God’s ambassadors, water our little seeds, but God is the one who will help them grow.
Send them forward
We love to send our kids off with a gift to help them remember who their Savior is and to be obedient to Him. A very simple idea is a rubber wristband with an inspirational word or verse. Kids love these so they will actually wear them! I got some from Amazon.com: “Walking With Jesus” Bracelet (1 DOZEN) – BULK There are tons of options. I liked the reminder that Jesus is with them every day, at every step. (Oriental Trading has them too!) Send them away with a short devotional explaining what it means to “walk with Jesus” so they will remember this each time they see their bracelet. Plus, it’s a good way to get other kids to ask them about their bracelets giving the perfect opportunity for kids to share their faith with their peers.
Other suggestions are bible journals or teen devotional books. Encourage them to keep God in their daily lives. Take God to school with them. Take God to athletics. Take God everywhere! As teachers we do our very best to help our kids make wise choices and remember their Heavenly Father! I’d love to hear some of you ideas! I often find my readers have some of the best ideas!! Post them in the comments.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
Say a Prayer Entering into 2018
Intentional Parenting & Teaching
Is Easter really the Super Bowl for churches? Does attendance increase enough to make a noticeable difference? You bet it does! So what are you going to do about it? How are you going to encourage those annual visitors to return more frequently? Do you need a creative give away, a bribe?
Well let me tell you, God doesn’t need gimmicks. He needs His church to act like a church. People need people. They desire friendships. Just go back to the garden to see this, “It is not good for man to be alone.” When you see a visitor, go to them. Talk to them. Ask them about them. Invite them to an Easter egg hunt or lunch during the week. Get their contact information and follow up! You do not need a gimmick to be a friend and this is what most people really seek!
According to a study by Barna Group, only 38% of Americans say they go to church weekly. Compare that to the many other studies showing over half the population of Americans attends church services on Easter. This tell me that Americans fell some sense of spiritual obligation, but they are not finding the piece that brings them back on any given Sunday, the piece that lets them know God’s church is a family they want to be a part of.
Many churches have tried creative ways to entice the non-church goers to return. They send home welcome packs, drop off a gift at their door or mail a postcard. These are great works and I think we should keep doing them, but I have yet to come across an outreach idea like these that consistently and effectively turned visitors into regular church goers. I will be providing all kids in attendance with crayons and a color sheet focused on Easter. We will have an Easter egg hunt following services full of candy and goodies! But I do not expect these ideas to be what draws families back week after week.
So what’s missing? Connections! Easter provides and incredible opportunity to put this theory to the test. Try it this Sunday! Talk to a visitor. Get their information and have coffee or send a note. Invite them to your small group bible study. If they have kids, send some stickers during the week showing you noticed them too. You are establishing a relationship. When people have friends they are more likely to participate. We love talking to and being with our friends. No, God does not need gimmicks. He needs us to show we are Christians by our love.
Have you noticed a real lack of respect from children these days? It used to be that a child appeared angelic everywhere but home, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, children not only smart off to their parents but to teachers, neighbors and other adults. They aren’t afraid, or too ashamed, to share their bad attitudes. Young children may stick out their tongues while older ones roll their eyes and smart off. What is happening in our society?
It starts with each one of us. The first step is to take a good hard look in the mirror, and be honest with yourself. Do you put down others? How about where kids can hear you? Do you call the policeman ridiculous for giving you a speeding ticket, after all, it was only five miles over the speed limit? Do you talk about your in-laws inappropriately? That means in any way other than positive. Do you leave worship services talking about the lady behind you that sounded like a freight train or the man who led the longest, most boring prayer ever? How about the cashier that wouldn’t stop talking? Do you roll your eyes? These examples may seem minor, like they are not a big deal, but they are. Our kids hear our words, they see our attitudes and emulate them. Often times, we are to blame, at least partially, for this disrespect. Well, us and a few million other very human parents out there.
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6
So now what? We know it’s a problem but how do we fix it. Again, it begins with each one of us and God’s church. And it’s not a quick fix. We need to stop immediately letting negative, worthless talk come out of our mouths. Can you imagine what our kids would sound like if they learned to find positive words to say all the time? If the church, that’s all of God’s people, do this I am certain we will see a huge change. It will take time to reverse the bad behavior, but consciously making this change in our own lives where we make it obvious to children will cause a change in behaviors. Stop yourself when you realize your doing it again and comment on your change. Let kids see you fixing a negative pattern.
Ministers, please begin teaching intentionally on this topic and change the world. Children’s ministers, share this, teach this to your parents. The earlier they start the more likely they are to see success. Parents and grandparents, take this to heart. It’s time to make a nationwide difference starting at home. Kids who feel loved tend to show love, thus, respect.
For teachers looking for solutions in the classroom, be firm, but kind. Don’t ignore bad behavior, but address it in the proper setting with the proper attitude. If a child is telling you no, they will not participate or sit and listen, have an assistant take them outside the room so they are not disrupting others and so the behavior can be addressed privately. Once pride kicks in, you’re not going to get far. It may seem strange, but pray with the child. Tell them the behavior is not acceptable. When they commit to behaving, let them rejoin the group. With a very patient helper it is effective. Give it a try and share your experiences.