There is something that children need to hear every time they are at church. It's something pretty simple, but it is very powerful.
What is it? It's their NAME.
Nothing is sweeter to a child's ears than hearing their name spoken in a kind way.
Our goal in ministry is to reach children with the Gospel and see them grow in their faith for a lifetime.
But let's back up for a minute. Before a child listens to what you say, they first need to know that you care about them. When they know you really care about them...they will open their mind to what you are saying.
As a ministry, be intentional about making sure every child hears their name spoken at least once every time they are at church. This includes children in the nursery all the way to 5-6th grade.
Call children by name when it's their birthday.
Call children by name when they are a guest.
Call children by name when they walk into your environments.
Call children by name when they are in a small group. On that note, remember, it a child is going to have a personal experience at church, they need to part of a smaller group of children where they are known by a leader and other children.
One of the benefits of having a check-in and check-out safety program is that it generates a name tag for each child. This makes it easier to call kids by name. But also memorize as many names as you can. There are times when you will see a family from your church at the grocery store, park, etc. and you want to be able to call them by name in that setting as well.
Train your greeters to call children by name.
Train your check-in team to call children by name.
Train your small group leaders to call each child by name.
The bottom line is this: Children will open their hearts and lives to your insight when they know you care about them.
On a side note, this includes volunteers. They need to hear you say their name as well.
One of the greatest examples of calling every child by name that I have seen is a friend of mine.
I have observed her doing this and it so impactful.
Each time a child arrives at her classroom door, she goes to the door and gets down on her knees so she can talk with the child face-to-face. She says to the child...
______________ (child's name), I am so glad you are here!!! We've been waiting all week to see you. Come on in and join us for a great time."
Now that's a way to make an impact!
I am reminded of the story of Peter the disciple. He had denied Jesus three times and was now carrying a massive load of guilt and regret. Would Jesus ever speak to Him again? Would he ever be forgiven? After Jesus had risen from the dead, He sent an invitation to the disciples to join Him. And look what else He says.
Now go and tell His disciples, including PETER that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.” Mark 16:7
He specifically called Peter by name. This let Peter know that Jesus still loved him even though he had denied Him.
One last thing about calling each child by name. Don't let the only time you use the child's name be when they are in trouble. Our goal should always be to call the child up to God's best, not just calling them out because they have messed up.
If you are not being intentional about calling each child by name, gather your volunteers together and cast this vision. It will make a big difference!