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Building Toys...Building Relationships

I'm currently consulting with a church for several months. Two to three weekends a month, I am on-site observing their services, events, programs, etc.

This past weekend, I spent one of the services interacting with the children before the elementary service started.

I talked with several children who were sitting alone or playing by themselves. Thankfully they had on name tags, so I was able to call them by name (which is a big deal for kids).

What did I talk with them about?

I asked their name.

I asked what grade they were in.

I asked what their favorite subject was in school?

I asked what they liked to do for fun?

I asked how long they had been coming to church?

I asked if they had made any friends at church?

I asked if they had a video game system - and if so, what system?

I asked what their favorite video game was?

I asked if they had any pets?

I asked if they liked sports? Who is their favorite team?

What sport do they enjoy playing or watching?

Here's another simple outline you can use when talking with new children

1 on 1.


F - family

I - interests

S - where do they go to school?

H - do they have any hobbies?

I also got on the floor (which isn't as easy as it once was) and played with toys with the kids. 4 kids were playing with building toys like Legos. We had fun building a castle and then, of course, one of the kids got a running start and knocked it down.

Also played a game of Connect 4.

These might seem like small things, but they can have a huge impact on the kids in your ministry.

Often, I see leaders who are standing around, talking with each other or they are on their cell phone during the 10-15 minutes before the service or class starts. What a missed opportunity!!!

Your goal should be for every volunteer leader to be building relationships with the kids during the pre-service and after service is over.

Yes, these may be small windows of time, but you would be surprised the relationships you can build if you are strategic with your words and actions.

There are many benefits to doing this, but the biggest one is this - it will deepen your relationship with the children. And that is a huge win.

We've all heard the saying "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

This is so true.

You see, kids will open their hearts to volunteers who show they care by spending time with them before the service begins and when they are waiting for their parents to pick them up after the service.

Face-to-face conversations. Don't stare down at them like the Jolly Green Giant. Either bend down or get on the floor with them so you can be on their eye level. We forget what it's like to be staring up at a giant talking down to us. That's the way kids feel when we don't get on their eye level.

I would have never said this 10 years ago, but things have changed in what kids like pre-service.

Video games at church used to be the rage. In my ministry, I had dozens of video games set up for pre-service play.

Fast forward to today. Kids have access to video games all the time. At home on their TV. In the car with a portable game. Games on their cell phone. Games on their tablets. Games on their computer. The truth is, when they arrive at church, there is a good chance they played video games all the way to the church.

I have found that because of this, games like Connect 4, checkers, Jenga, Legos, drawing and crafts are a big hit at church for today's kids. And the cool part is this - these type of games are good for kids and volunteers to play together. Volunteers can make direct eye contact with the kids instead of staring at a video game screen. They can talk together. They can create together. They can interact together.

And this is a big win. Remember...when you build toys with kids you are building relationships with kids.


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