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Toys vs. Memories

Have you ever seen a child get an amazing toy for Christmas? But after a minute or so, the child puts the new toy down and starts playing with the box it came in?

Or they put it aside because they are ready to open their next present?

"Stuff" doesn't last. "Stuff" breaks. "Stuff" doesn't satisfy the inner needs of a child long term. "Stuff" soon becomes junk that you sell in a yard sale or donate to a local thrift store.

Can I let you in on a little secret? Here it is. Kids may not know how to express it verbally, but the main thing they want to do is make memories with their family.

I was talking about this concept with my father and he shared with me what a friend of his has started doing. Instead of spending a bunch of money on "stuff" for his kids, he has started spending the money on making memories with them.

This past Christmas, he took the money he would have spent on presents and used it to rent a cabin by the lake for his family. What a brilliant move as a parent. This is something that his kids will never forget.

And what a great concept to share with the parents in your ministry. I'm not saying they shouldn't give their children any "stuff" for Christmas. But I am saying we should challenge them to cut way back on the "stuff" and spend the money on making memories instead.

Think about it. What are the best memories from your childhood? A road trip you took together? A family vacation? Time spent riding rides together at your favorite theme park? Doing an escape room challenge together? A trip to see the grandparents? A family reunion? Catching fish together? The camping trip you went on?

Here's the deal. More than anything, your kids want to spend time with you. No amount of "stuff" can replace that.

One of my friends shared with me a story from his childhood. His parents divorced when he was young. He ended up living with his grandparents who basically raised him. His father never spent time with him or showed any interest in him. Then at Christmas, his father would show up with an extravagant gift for him and then disappear again until next Christmas. When he turned 16, his father showed up with a Mustang car he had bought for him.

He shared with me how much it hurt not to have his father in his life. He told me he would trade in all the "stuff" his father had given him in exchange for spending time with his father and knowing that his father really cared about him.

We could also apply this to our role in children's ministry. What memories are we creating for kids? What memories are we creating for families?

We can have all the cool "stuff" in place for kids at church. Themed rooms. Indoor playgrounds. Funny videos. Amazing sound systems. The best check-in system available.

These things are nice to have, but what kids want the most is for someone to know their name. Someone who cares about them. Someone who checks on them when they are absent. Someone who prays for them each week.

That is what they will remember. Their memories will be linked to volunteers who invested in them. Children's directors who shared the Gospel with them. Greeters who recognize them and smile at them as they enter. Camp counselors that went the second mile to help them have a great camp experience.

Parents are memory makers. Volunteers are memory makers. Children's directors are memory makers.

20 years from now the children will look back at their experience growing up at church. What will they remember? What great memories will they reminisce about? Who will they remember that helped them create great memories?

Stuff vs. memories. Invest your time in what matters most.


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