Several years ago I began doing something to try to reach some boys in our Awana club, reaching out to let them know that someone cared. I do not know if it impacted those boys, but the subsequent result still amazes me today. I was completely clueless as to the impact it was having on children and their families.
We frequently hear that ministry is about building relationships, but not many will take that outside the walls of the church. We had a couple boys in the church who had a rough home situation and were seen as “bad kids”. In an attempt to reach out to them, I attended a couple of their baseball games. No agenda, just there to watch and show that their lives outside of the church were important as well.
I began to attend sporting events, martial arts belt tests, school plays, graduations of all kinds, recitals, band performances and whatever else the children were doing. I honestly didn’t think anything about it, I was just there showing the kids I cared. Little did I know the great impact of my simple gesture.
I began to hear of children looking forward to “Commander Bill” being at their game, performance, or whatever. I even surprised some parents and kids by going to watch their play, or band performance (I forget which), on a club night! I could tell you countless stories of how children responded to my being at their event and the relationships that it fostered.
I realize that families are busy with children’s activites so visitation can be difficult. By attending their activities, I am meeting them on their schedule. As the child is involved in the activity, it allows me time to be near the parents, where sometimes there is great interaction and othertimes, not as much. Again, because there is no agenda, just being their for the child to support them, extensive verbal interaction is not always necessary.
Honestly, I am still amazed at the impact this small gesture has on families. The hardest part of all of this is getting a schedule for the child’s activity so I can plan to attend. I try to attend at least one activity for each child/youth under my ministry care and I never promise that I will be there. I generally tell the parent that I am planning on being there so if something changes, the activity is cancelled or they will not be there, they can let me know. I don’t want to promise to be there and then something comes up that causes me not to attend. That could be seen as another male adult breaking a promise. I don’t want to “hurt” a child in that way if I can avoid it.
What are you doing to reach the children/youth in your club (ministry) outside the walls of the church, beyond Sunday morning and club night? Are you doing anything? If no, why not? You will be amazed at the impact it will have and you can be completely clueless, just like me 🙂