Children are pliable, moldable vessels. The messages directed to them must be mindful that they can be easily influenced. It is important when preparing messages and when interacting to note that in a larger Jr. Church setting you are going to have great diversity within the group. This includes: ages, family incomes, education levels, attitudes, social and chemical influences. In this mix you are going to find 2 main groups:
Church kids – Church kids are those children where the parents faithfully attend church. These children are “usually” behaved or at least would have an avenue of discipline if the child
Bus Kids – Bus kids are any children brought to church and the parent is not attending Church. This includes kids brought by a bus, neighbor, friend or dropped off by a parent.
Ministry example of understanding diversity and experience
My wife and I were having a children’s choir practice where we were picking kids up (bus kids) and including them in activities normally reserved for Church kids. We began to practice the song “thank you Lord” when we came to the part “food on my table and shoes on my feet…” one of the young girls (8-9 year old) began to hopelessly cry.
We changed to a different song and she seemed fine, but when we revisited that song she began to cry again. Asking my wife to take her aside, she learned that that child had not eaten in 2 days and her last meal was peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In that group of kids, in a prosperous town, in our very own congregation was a child, who could not thank the Lord for the food on her table.
When preparing messages to speak to such a diverse crowd, be careful not to assume that every child comes from a good background…
Behavioral modification drugs are being used in schools today on a grand scale. These drugs are designed to keep students at a nominal level of activity to help control emotional fluxuations promoting stability. In many circumstances these drugs are administered at the public school throughout the week leaving the children dealing with a level of withdrawl over the weekend.
By church time on Sunday the children are dealing with emotions that they have not leaned to control. This may result in outbursts, disobedience, lethargy, rage and more. It is important to make this acknowledgement because often when this mis-behavior comes out it not generally within their control.