How To Welcome Kids To Your Ministry
Saturday, April 16, 2022
I never realized just how hard it can be to welcome kids. But it's a useful skill to learn, not only to welcome kids to ministry, but also for meeting new kids in general.
I mostly learned how to (and how not to!) welcome new kids to ministry events on the KidzAblaze team, after many trips. Even now, I still make plenty of mistakes when talking to new kids, and sometimes wish I had said something else or acted differently. I've learned a lot, however, and hopefully this post can help you not only save yourself a lot of the embarrassment and frustration I have experienced, but al help you form a relationship with new kids that encourages them and excites them to be there!
Kids are surprisingly good at interpreting body language and tone. Here are some things to try:
SMILE!!! I know someone's actually happy to see me when they have a genuine smile on their face!
Listen closely, and show that for this moment you're focused on them only. There are several reasons this helps:
The child sees you're invested in learning about them and are interested in what they have to say.
You are more likely to remember details about them that could come in handy later.
Pay close attention to their behavior. This is more so for your own purposes. Is the kid sitting still? Fidgeting? Talking a mile an hour? If you notice certain traits when you first meet them, it can help you know if a kid will need someone to help him pay attention, get them acquainted with other children, or if they'll quickly feel comfortable.
Speak with respect to them. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I can't tell you how many times I didn't do this, and it hurt my relationship with the kid. I realized though I may feel important speaking as if I know everything and they don't, the kid may feel even worse than I feel good. While I may be an authority in that setting, they'll actually respect me more if I be a kid with them, and speak with a tone that implies they're on the same level as me. Then I'm not just a leader; I'm their friend.
Things To Say
Words are powerful. Here are some things to say when first meeting a kid:
"Hi! What's your name?" Um, confession: several times I've played with kids for hours, and at the end I realize I have no idea what their name is. And it feels terrible. Besides feeling a little guilty, it also makes it hard for me, because I don't have the ability to quickly call that kid over or reference him in a conversation with another person. Please don't torment yourself, and ask their name before all else.
"My name is __." Not only is it a nice reply after learning their name, but the kid now also has the ability to quickly call you over later on. This helps you be there for a new kid, even at the moments you don't have your attention on him.
"How old are you?" When I know a kid's age, I can draw from past experience with other children that age and treat the new child accordingly until I learn more about him.
Ask them a silly question. This is more optional than the last three phrases, but I still find it a fun way to lead into other conversation, and it can loosen up the kid. For example, some could be, "Are you married?" or, "What is your preferred tooth?" Try for something they've probably never been asked before, and make it your own! (Note: also be mindful of the kid's personality and age, as those could help you choose a good question.)
New kids are a great opportunity to impact others, and you may even be the first to introduce them to Christ!
Do you have your own tips for welcoming new kids to your ministry? Tell us! We'd love to hear!