STRATEGY of Mobilizing Children
DISCUSSION ON STRATEGY of Mobilizing Children
When I wrote Gerry Dueck at the U.S. Center for World Missions, asking for resources on getting children to participate in missions, I was quite overwhelmed at the package I got back in the mail! There were six articles explaining why and how to teach missions material to children and lists of curriculums from a number of different organizations. Following is a summary of what I saw in those articles.--NW
Right now, you can have an impact on the kids at your local church by offering to teach in Sunday School or youth group meetings--as a regular teacher, a guest/substitute teacher, or a helper to the teacher. Just ask your pastor, youth director, or Sunday School coordinator. This could also be done as a group--have the members of your missions fellowship team-teach it by having four of you attending it regularly and each teaching once a month. For a quick, easy curriculum, I'd suggest reading a little half-page story from a Global Prayer Digest and praying. This could work as an entire curriculum (adding object lessons and explanations) or as a ten-minute tag on the standard curriculum.
If you want to do a really good job, get Gerry's book, Kids for the World: A Guidebook for children's Mission Resources. (176 pages by Gerry Dueck, available for US$10 from William Carey Library, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104. This book is not a curriculum, but is a resource manual pointing you to hundreds of other curricula.) Tie each lesson into some practical way of involvement--praying, giving, writing a missionary, telling someone else. Also, provide continuity (i.e. study a country and its people one week, and in subsequent weeks learn about a missionary there, give money to that missionary, and then have the missionary visit the class).
The last thing you want to do is turn kids off to missions, so it will take creativity! Here's a list of creative ideas: Role-playing, panel discussions, field trips, videos/slides/filmstrips, missions songs and songs from different countries, posters, displays with maps, missionary pictures/prayer cards, National Geographic articles on certain cultures & letters from missionaries, flash card/flannelgraph stories, showing curios, interview guest missionaries or international students, tapes, missions quizzes, missionary books, ethnic foods, hide & seek prayer requests, foreign clothing, theme parties, care packages for M.K.'s with toys, books, letters & pictures, puppets, newspaper articles, Scripture memorization, plays/drama/ mime, research projects on missionaries or unreached peoples, fund-raisers for specific missions projects, and arts & crafts paralleling those of other countries. Involve the senses and evoke responses; don't just preach!
Article: CHILDREN & WORLD EVANGELIZATION FROM: Amy Barstad
If we are claiming to be strategic and Biblical, then we can no longer leave children out of our strategies. After hearing Dr. Wes Stafford, President of Compassion Int'l, speak last night in the Perspectives class here in Denver, I was greatly challenged and convicted about how our strategies to reach the world have bypassed children.
If we know the following facts, then our strategies need to change.
1. 50% of the world is presently under the age of 15, and the percentage must be even higher in the 10/40 Window.
2. 85% of the Christians today in the word made a commitment to Christ between the ages of 4-14 years old.
How come most of missiological strategies only focus on the 15% of the population today?
How come our mobilization resources don't focus 50% of their data, prayer requests, etc. on the 50% of the population that is the most receptive?
How come AD2000 doesn't have a track focusing on reaching the children of the 10/40 Window?
How come I have rarely heard of church planting strategies focusing on teenagers? They are rapidly holding "new leadership roles" as they are the members of the extended families who can read and introduce new information and technology into their families from the bottom up.
Children are change agents. Jesus saw them as such and present reality proves them to be change agents.
AS D.L. Moody reported to his wife after evangelizing a family, he said, "I saw 2 and 1/2 conversions tonight." His wife responded by asking how old the one child was and D.L. Moody responded: "There were two children and only one adult. The children have their whole lives ahead of them, but the adult only has half of his life left."
I was challenged to begin to look at children differntly. Let me challenge you to do the same...
Luis Bush called yesterday to say that AD 2000 is very interested in children. They have quite a few efforts to mobilize children, yet are still lacking in the area of strategically focusing on children in church planting. Mobilizing children is one thing, but focusing our church planting strategies on them as a strategic, viable audience is another.
AD 2000 has gone through the right channels and asked both Compassion Int'l and Child Evangelism Fellowship several times to lead a children's track, with no success. Like Caleb Project, AD 2000 is dependent on people to carry out their vision.
AD 2000 did have children delegates at GCOWE; They are working closely with Esther Ilinsky in her mobilization of kids around the world to pray for kids around the world; They are targeting children, adolescents and young adults in an up coming conference in Latin America; They are also taking and involving children in a trip through India for a month.
I definitely hit a button in Luis. I admire him for quickly responding to my email. Let us pray with AD 2000 that a children's track will be a reality soon.
From: WILLIAM STEARNS ..Spot-on as usual, Amy! We often point out that over the next 25 years, by the year 2020--the same period as since 1970--there will be four billion more humans. And they'll ALL BE BABIES! Yeah, if there's a time for those with a heart for children and youth, it's now! Y'all (We're still in Arkansas, after all.) might be tickled about: --A junior-high-level sort of catch-the-vision book coming out this summer from Bethany House. It's CATCH THE WAVE by Kevin Johnson, it has all the right info, and it's being coupled with a leader's guide (World Christian) and a discussion video (Mars Hill Productions) in time for Sunday Schools, Bible studies, etc., as of next fall. --Also, pray for favor with a major publisher as they consider a high-school-level study we're proposing.
Finally, will somebody who knows kids please start combining all the bits and pieces of elementary-age, up-to-speed materials? There's KidsCan stuff, Frontiers'/D-2000's M&M Kids stuff, the Schwab's videos, etc., etc. But it's all in pieces, and it's tough to recommend what a church should use for kids' Sunday School, for children's church, for VBS, etc. It's one thing to have Gerry Dueck's updated KIDS FOR THE WORLD with its lists and lists of good stuff. (Get yours, by the way. 800-MISSION) It's another thing to know what works BEST. You might take some lumps, but could you kid-experts list THE BEST for each age group and each function? If we mobilizers knew this, we could all push it. Instead of competing, then, the various producers of the various kids' materials could combine it all into a (customize-able) cohesive curriculum, and we could all get on the stick to translate and spread this BEST kids' mission awareness/training material globally. Hmmmm?!
From: (Jan Bell) -- I appreciate the passion expressed by Amy Barstad in her testimony about children and world evangelization. Those are the same questions that we (those working in missions education for children) have been asking too for quite awhile.
About a year ago I participated in a focus group of mission and church leadership. The question before us was to express what strategy we were working on to move into the 21st century. Other than me no one else mentioned children and youth in any way.
I do not have the final data on who attended the two recent International Children's EXPOS, but I venture a guess that there were few mission leaders who came. I'd think mission agencies, especially, would want to know how to tap into this younger generation.
I was encouraged recently by the formation of "Celebrate the Child" (info available from Billy Graham Center). At the top of the declaration is the statement that we recognize children's ministry to be equally important as ministry to youth and adults. That statement should speak volumes to us and provide a starting place for understanding why so little has been strategically done to this point.
Also to share from my experience and those I work closely with: If you want to work with children and mobilize children to change the world, then expect SPIRITIUAL OPPOSITION BIG TIME! I know that everyone working in missions in any way experiences spiritual warfare, so I can't say if it is more or less than what others experience. I only know it is foolishness to think that working with children in some way minimizes the opposition.
Satan wants children in a big way, and he will do anything he can to blind us to their potential or, when we recognize it, to throw so much opposition that working to make a difference becomes almost impossible.
I believe Satan loves it when children are "out of control," especially in the church school or children's worship or that we can only keep their attention because we are entertaining them with fluff.
The first step in children's ministry is to stop making them the object of our ministry and begin to *equip them for ministry*. That is a key thought that is beginning to rise with tremendous force.
I recommend reading _Children's Church: Turning Your Circus into A Service_ by Dick Gruber, Gospel House Publishing, 800-641-4310. He states that for so long we have put kids in their place, told them to listen and that someday "when you grow up you can do ministry." Those kids did grow up and are the adults who are still sitting in the pew saying "feed me" and have little vision for children's potential.
Dick Gruber says we can make the children's worship service *a real service* -- the first place kids learn to serve.
A couple from my church (coordinating children's worship) went to the Maryland EXPO where their vision was radically changed because they saw kids who had been equipped for ministry. Within days after they returned I gave them a copy of Dick Gruber's book to read. Now what is happening in our children's worship is incredible. The kids are **doing it** and they think it is fun.
I think more needs to be explained about what is required for the AD2000 track that hasn't been filled. It is possible there has been a delay for good reason.
From: Paul Cull -- Our vision is to plant churches among the adolescents in the slums in Rio de Janeiro, especially around the 12 years old and up. With what we've been seeing of renewal here, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God CAN and WILL use these kids as an important component of revival. The challenge for us is to create the church structures to direct and "pastor" this. By definition a church for teenagers WILL look different to a "normal" church - just HOW different we haven't discovered yet!...In my experience here, the kids are SO open to the move of the Holy Spirit, much more so (in general) than adults...
Personally, I believe that renewal is an important tool in church planting among kids. From the little I've already seen here in Brazil (and we're not focusing on church planting yet), it seems that kids who've had a powerful experience with the Lord get a desire to pray, to get together, to find out more. From the limited study I've done, it appears that this was a factor that created "cell groups" among children in some historic revivals (e.g. the book "Kingdom Kids - Children in Revival" by Harry Sprange details some of these). I'd [also] strongly recommend the book "And for your children" by Rev. John and Chris Leach, (Monarch Publications) for what is - in my view - a very balanced and "matter-of-fact" approach to introducing kids to ministering in the pow er of the Holy Spirit...
By the way, I'd really appreciate prayer right now to solve a problem with my visa - it appears that the enemy's trying to throw me out of here by next month...
From NateWilson -- I think that a weakness of our North American/European mindset regarding children is our age-segregation. If we could see the church as whole families rather than segregated age-groups, we could have a much greater effect on children. As it is, we do not seriously include our children in worship or Christian education; the kids are shipped off to another room to do crafts while the adults get all the spiritual meat. No wonder we begin thinking that children would require a separate church-planting effort. But this is not necessary if the family is taken as a whole. God created us to exist in the context of families. In our church-planting, we must train parents in their all-important role of parenting so that they will have healthy relationships with their children and will train their own children in God's ways, thus multiplying the number of children's workers beyond any number of professional children's ministers we could ever send out. Including children in serious worship, Christia edu cation, and ministry certainly goes against our cultural norms--I get all kinds of dirty looks from deacons in the many churches I visit with my children--but I believe we will continue to experience frustration with children's ministry as long as we do not view families as an integral unit.
From: SBMCAL1 ..[God] set out in the Scriptures a precise plan for children's ministry. "When we get up, when we sit down, when we walk by the way..." [Deut. 6:4-8] Why do we believe we must reinvent His plan. True religion undefiled includes ministry to orphans; this covers the kids without parents...
From: (Scott Forbes) -- Greetings from Canada. I belong to both the kidscan and Brigada networks, and have been watching the discussion about reaching and mobilizing children with interest. Two random thoughts: 1) Don't wait for mission agencies (with the exception of Jill Harris in Frontiers ) to get serious about impacting kids. They have extremely limited vision for that which they are not already doing, which in most cases is struggling to survive, and whining about Baby Boomers not giving them as much money as their parents did. 2)Don't wait until you have a comprehensive strategy to reach whole families. If you don't evangelize and train children with reckless abandon then Satan will win them. If your gifts and skills enable you to communicate with children then throw yourself into the fray. You will bear fruit and you will wear the scars of the battle in your heart for all eternity. Take that long view and don't look back. Along the way the defects of your approach will become apparent and you can make corrections then. Too much theorizing now and you won't get out of the starting blocks. Above all, be sure that your evangelistic lifestyle is truly visible and understandable to you own children. Most of us merely present a model of busyness, which eventually backfires on our kids. I am a recruiter for a mission agency. For the last three and half years I have been hard at work with some degree of success. I enjoy my work. Yet, in that time, my family has seen not seen the power of the gospel at work in the life of anyone we know. All my time is spent with Christians. This is an unacceptable model for my children. I have recently given notice to my board that I will not have another term of recruiting when the current one expires in June of 1997. I don't know what we will do, but it will most certainly involve day to day contact with those not yet in the kingdom. Nobody else really loves your kids as much as you do.
From: John Olson -- TEACH and preach it! ...The problem, as we all know, is the equipping. Missionaries are programmed to work themselves out of a job, thus they work hard at intentional discipleship, starting with children. I take every opportunity given me to teach equipping up through the ranks: children, Y.P., college, adult.
..Of course it is easier to cook dinner than teach your children how to do it! Some, in moments of weakness, admit they are control freaks and can't even turn anything over to adults, much less children.
..Bless the brother's attempt to do church planting in the slums of Rio. I am assuming he has many no-parent or one parent children; maybe even street children. It is hard enough to work with dysfunctional "families" in the US. He has a gigantic task on his hands and many obstacles that only the grace and power of the Holy Spirit can overcome. He merits prayer. All of you, keep up the good work and press on to equip the children.
PRESENTATION OUTLINE (WILSON) -- I (Nate Wilson) and my family have done over a dozen mission presentations over the last week while visiting at Briarwood Church'es World Mission Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. A few of these were short presentations for church Sunday schools and at a Christian elementary school. Here's the outline we used for the 5-7-year-olds:
-Tell story of Jacob's ladder and have children fill-in-the-blanks verbally with key details. Emphasize the point of Jacob's dream: God's promise to Jacob that He would bless Jacob and that through Jacob and his descendants, all the nations of the world would be blessed.
-Sing: "We are climbing Jacob's ladder" Then sing to the same tune "We are blessed to be a blessing" (Thanks to M&M Kids Debbie Sjogren for the idea!)
-Say, "WE are blessed to be a blessing to all the nations of the world just like Jacob was! Let me show you a video with pictures of people all over the world to which we can be a blessing!"
-Show Kid's 10/40 Window video from Joey & Fawn Parrish
-Ask, "HOW can we be a blessing to people all over the world?" The children immediately answer, "PRAYER" Show them a copy of the book, "You Can Change The World," and tell them to get their parents to buy a copy to help them pray!
-Say, "God has given us many good things and blessed us; how else can we be a blessing to all nations?" The children answered well about becoming a missionary.