Have you ever been a part of a real community before? A group that cares for one another, shares experiences, and does life together? Community has a way of binding people together and creating an environment where true growth is able to be experienced.
If an important part of the faith development of kids is that they experience community within the faith community (local church), we would be wise to remember that they need to be a living part of this community. The way many of us do ministry today involves us programming worship experiences that are geared towards kids specifically. While these services aren't the problem, removing kids entirely from the community could be.
What happens to a child who graduates as a 6th or 7th grader into the youth ministry and has no idea what it means to be a part of the community? More than likely, he or she will feel very lost. As Kidmin and Fammin Pastors, it's our job to intentionally allow kids to experience community as they grow. Kids must feel a sense of belonging and importance when it comes to having a place within the community. How can this be done?
When a kid enters your worship service does he feel he's a part of things? Or, does he feel like everything about the service was designed for someone other than him? I'm not advocating that we scrap all that we know about worship and start doing it kid style, but am suggesting we think about how we can make sure kids feel a part of the community at large.
Consider exposure: consider having kids in the main service once every four or six weeks.
Consider responsibilities: design a kid friendly bulletin that kid ushers can help pass out as families arrive for worship. Allow kids to serve as ushers along with an older mentor.
Consider generations: in order for true community to be present, various generations must be present. Remember this when recruiting for your kids services and classes. Use people of all ages.
Consider relationships: if kids are able to establish relationships with people within their smaller community, it makes the transition into the larger community a bit easier. A familiar face that represents the larger community is sure to put a child at ease.
Consider community in your kidmin: when you're building your team of kids workers, make sure that you use people who represent the larger community. People who are willing to share their faith stories and who span different generations. In doing this, you'll be creating a micro community that will function easily within the larger community group.
How about you? What do you do to consider community when you plan your kids or family ministry? What sorts of things are you intentional about when considering community?