Here comes the difficult part for some educated folks. We took a group of preteens on a mission trip several years ago.
I trained the children to do everything including leading songs, teaching a Bible story, teaching crafts, and counseling lost children. I taught my adult leaders on the trip that this was our preteens’ mission trip and that we were going to release them to lead and teach.
Each day, I would drive to each site to check up on our preteens and leaders. The first apartment I went to had a lot of children attending.
As I walked in the room, one of the adult lady leaders was teaching and had taken over the Bible study. I pulled her aside and said,
“Remember, we are letting the kids do everything.” She said, “I know, but it is so hard.”
Recent research indicates that of all students who regularly served in the local church, 60-70% stayed because they were allowed to serve and be a part in ministry.
The problem today is that most churches don’t have enough places where children can be engaged in ministry.
That is why what you do as a Disciple Group (small group) leader or Sunday school teacher is critical now.
The norm is that they just sit and listen as they grow up in the church, but does this really work? The answer is no.
If this is your model, I would say the majority of the kids in your group are checking out during your small group time.
So, how do we get past this? Like I shared in my last blog post, we must model for them what the Christian faith is by our actions and our lives.
They can recognize a fake a mile away. Once you have that down, you are ready to take the next steps in moving them deeper in their walk with Christ.
Here are nine steps you can take to engage children and preteens in your group and to allow them to use their spiritual gifts.
Administer a Spiritual Gift Test. Once you know where everyone in your group is spiritually, you are ready to administer a Spiritual Gift Test. Give the test to each person in your group and determine the highest scores for each child. A sad note here is that a lot of folks give the test and never do anything with it.
Allow them to use their gifts to serve. Look for ways for your preteens to use their gifts and lead within your group. After you administer the test and determine their highest scores, begin plugging them in within your group.
They can help with setting up class. Invite the kids with the gift of helps to come a bit early to help you set up your room.
They can read Scripture. Pick children in your group to read the passage for the Bible study. Don’t force them to read if they don’t want to. I was one of those kids who couldn’t read well. My teacher always forced me to read, and it embarrassed me. I didn’t want to come back.
They can help with records. If you have kids who score high in administration/organization, allow them to take the records each week.
It isn’t that big of a task, but it takes the burden off of you. They will love getting to do it.
They can pray during prayer time. If you have kids who score high in the area of the gift of faith, allow them to lead the prayer time.
You will be amazed by the kids in your group and their ability to intercede for others. They only need to be released to pray.
They can help with the lesson. There are those who score high in the area of teaching. With these children, their gifts usually manifest when they give feedback; they tend to articulate the Word of God in amazing ways.
(A week before they will help, assign a small part for them to teach. Call and follow up with them before your small group time.)
They can clean up and reset the classroom before they leave. For those with the gift of helps or service, allow them to clean up your room and reset the furniture and supplies for the next class time.
They can make guests feel welcome into your group. Children with the gift of hospitality tend to make guests feel welcome in your group.
Appoint them as the classroom greeters who stand at the doorway of your room and welcome the children back.
If a new person comes to your group, they can be assigned to sit with that person to make them feel welcome.
Remember, the goal of small group is twofold: to make disciples and to equip the disciples to minister and make disciples themselves.
In my next blog post, we will cover Step Three—taking children into the depths with God (“You Do, I Help”).
You will find more and more that as you engage them in your group, their faith will excel to new levels.
See you next time!