“A parent is not the only relationship a child needs.” – Reggie Joiner
If you have children, I am sure that you have experienced moments where you invest truths into them only to find that they may have fallen on deaf ears. It can sometimes be surprising when they come home from church or school only to tell you about something they learned and for it to turn out to be something you had said many times before.
Those of us who are parents will learn pretty quickly that it is so important to allow other adults that we trust to speak into the lives of our children. They might say things that we say in a slightly different way or at just the right moment to where something important will stick with our children.
One of the greatest gifts a church leader can give a family is to put other adults into children’s lives who will say the same things and reinforce the same things that the parents say. You see, children crave and desire approval from adults other than their parents. This is something that can’t be done in the large group setting. This is why we encourage church leaders to “lead small.” When you think small you create a community of leaders that can take a few kids and do something for them that would be impossible to do for all of them.
When you elevate community through leading small you are essentially providing an environment where children and students can forge strong and safe relationships with adults that share a like mind with the church and the parents. You are creating a path for students to grow in their faith through the investment of others. This is priceless in a child’s life.
So how can you elevate community in your church? I am glad you asked! Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
You elevate community when you do for a few what you wish you could do for more. You can’t do something for everyone, but you can do something for someone. As you train the leaders in your area of ministry this is an important concept to help them understand. It is important for every leader in your church to be intentional about investing relationally in their few so those kids have a solid relationship with someone inside your ministry. This person should be intentional about knowing their kids’ families and situations and work hard to be a part of their life.
You elevate community when you do something culture isn’t doing. You can invest a million dollars into creating the best large group production a child has ever seen only to turn around and see today’s culture take it to the next level. As good and important as large group programming is, it’s not a substitute for what can happen in the context of community. Conversations and interactions happen on a different level in smaller communities. This community is something that culture can’t provide. This is a strength that the church holds and we need to be capitalizing on it.
You elevate community when you do something parents can’t do. As I said earlier, kids need other adults to confirm, affirm and approve their life. They actually crave it. Kids need to hear the voice of other people in their lives. It is difficult for parents to provide this for their children without the partnership of the church. When you take the time to have intentional and well-trained small group leaders in your programs, you are providing parents with access to spiritual formation for their kids that may be difficult for them to provide on their own.
Elevate community in your church to maximize the potential families have to grow in their faith. Lead small and provide a venue for leaders in your ministry to invest in a few.
If you want to learn more about elevating community I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Orange Essentials.