The mountain you see in the picture is called "the nose" of Yosemite's El Capitan mountain. It's 3,000 vertical feet of granite. It was once thought to be impossible to climb. Even now it is an incredible feat to make it to the top
...even for experienced climbers.
With that being said, Selah Schneiter climbed it at age 10. Yes, you read it right - at age 10. She is the youngest person to reach the top.
Selah is from Colorado and she touched a boulder for the first time at 3-days-old. It was her idea to climb the nose of El Capitan.
Selah is obviously not your average kid. So what made this little girl decide she would try to climb the nose of El Capitan? Let's look at a few reasons. And...think about how we can use the same principles as we help kids climb higher in their faith journey.
Look for kids with initiative. Selah's parents said the idea to climb El Capitan was totally her idea. Her father said, "We did this climb for her. It was her energy and her idea."
One of our main responsibilities as children and family ministry leaders is to invest in kids and help them climb higher in their faith journey. Who are the kids in your ministry that you see great potential in? Who are the kids in your ministry that you can invest in?
We are called to invest in all the children in our ministry. But perhaps not equally. Why? You simply don't have enough time. But you can be like Jesus and disciple 12 kids at a deeper level. Who are the 12 kids you can invest in? What should you look for in the children? What traits and characteristics should you look for?
A big one is initiative. Look for kids who are self-motivated to grow higher in their faith.
Look for kids who are faithful.
Find kids who attend your church regularly.
Look for kids who already show signs of wanting to grow higher. They listen during the lesson. They worship during worship time. They are respectful to leaders. They have accepted Jesus as their Forgiver, Leader and Friend. They were baptized on their own initiative.
You don't have to try and talk them into being a part of your discipleship pathways. They love Jesus and want to draw closer to Him. They eager to be involved.
Find parents who are committed to helping their children climb higher on their faith journey. It didn't surprise me that Selah's parents are both avid climbers. Her father was by her side during the climb.
Show me a child that is committed to growing and I'll show you parents who want their child to grow in their faith. This is not a blanket statement. There are kids who grow by themselves. But that's the exception.
The majority of kids who are growing in their faith have parents who are also growing in their faith. Look for parents who sold out for Jesus. Look for parents who take an active role in their child's faith journey. Look for parents who talk with their children about God during the week.
Give kids the tools they need to climb higher in their faith. You can't climb a mountain like El Caption without the right equipment. If we are going to see kids climb higher in their faith, then we've got to provide them with the right tools.
Bible reading plan
how to study the Bible
deeper faith that tackles the toughest faith questions
how to share your faith with others
how to spend time with God
Help kids see that it won't always be easy. The climb wasn't easy. Selah said, "I don't think there was necessarily a hardest time. It was all hard. There were times where I would be sore and tired and sunburned, and that would kind of get me going a little bonkers."
There will times when you lose your footing. There will be times when you fail and must ask Jesus to forgive you. There will be times when you get tired of climbing against popular culture. There will be moments when you doubt that you can keep climbing.
Encourage kids to not give up and to remember that Jesus is right beside them, each step of the climb.
Celebrate with kids when they climb higher in their faith. Selah celebrated by eating pizza once she had completed the climb.
As kids grow in their faith, celebrate with them. Here are some key times you can celebrate with kids and families on their faith journey.
Parent and Child Dedication
Graduation into middle school
There are kits available for each of these milestone events that you can share with families. You can get more info. at this link.
I'm not sure who is sitting in your ministry. It may be the next pastor of your church. It may be a a future worship leader. It may be an amazing business person who raises lots of money to spread the Gospel. It may be the next Christian senator. It might be a caring nurse.
But I do know this. If you will find some kids who are really passionate about growing in their faith and some parents who are there to support them, you will see those kids begin to climb higher and higher with God.
Your turn. How do you help kids grow in their faith? How do you partner with parents and influence them to lead their children spiritually? Share your thoughts and insight in comment section below.