Something we say around her a lot is that “relationship amplifies the message.” You have important truths to pass on to your few every week, whether it’s something God’s put on your heart to say or it’s written in your curriculum. For some, they’re just words. But when these words come from the context of a relationship, they become something more.

One of the quickest ways to bolster this relationship is to become a place of safety for your kids. Yes—ensure that your group is a safe place. Keep the kids from getting out of control and saying things that might hurt another child. But I’m talking about something more.

Every kid hurts. Every child has something that’s creating pain for them.

  • Some kids are dealing with a bully and they don’t know what to do.
  • Some kids have parents who are divorced, are getting divorced, or are frequently fighting.
  • Some kids hate some aspect about themselves.
  • Some kids have experienced a significant loss in their life.
  • Some kids are victims of abuse.
  • Some kids don’t have any friends and they feel alone.

You know this is true, don’t you? You were one of those kids, right? For some of you, that hurt had an impact beyond your childhood. What would have happened if there was someone to walk through that hurt with you?

Forget the curriculum for a bit and look for the hurt. Lean into your kids and get to know them beyond what you’ll get from an average Sunday service. Ask probing questions that peel back the layers of our comfort zones.

Questions like:

  • What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
  • Is there anything you wish you could do over?
  • What’s your favorite thing about your school? What’s your least favorite?
  • What are you most afraid of?

Obviously you wouldn’t ask all the questions at once, but over time you might learn a thing or two about your kids that gives you reason to dive deeper. When one of your few confides a hurt, be a place of safety for him or her. Get the people involved who need to be involved and simply walk through the process. Do more than ask them about it on Sundays. Send encouraging cards. Call and check in with him or her and their parents. Stop by just for a few minutes to check in.

It’s likely that your few won’t remember any of your important words, but they’ll never forget how they felt when they were with you and how you helped them navigate their hurts.

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Kenny Conley

Kenny Conley, a 15-year veteran of Children’s Ministry, currently serves as the NextGen pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. His passion to see the next generation come to know and follow Christ propels him to constantly rethink how the church approaches ministry to kids and their families. Kenny loves to network and collaborate with ministry leaders around the world to push ministry to new levels. He lives in Texas with is wife Sara and children, Titus and Genevieve.

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