When I directed a large children’s ministry program, I was a master program developer, organizer of volunteers, energetic, enthusiastic whirlwind. What I was not was in a true relationship with God. I knew what that relationship was and what it meant, but I didn’t have time for it while nurturing my marriage, raising my own children, managing a staff, encouraging hundreds of volunteers, volunteering myself, and all the other things.
Don’t get me wrong—I was great at my job, always got the highest marks in annual job evaluations, and I know I made a difference in the lives of the children and families I touched.
Making a Difference
But here’s the thing, it wasn’t me making that difference, it was God. God pursued me and sought me out, encouraged me and equipped me along the way. I’d like to help encourage and equip you.
I strongly believe that when you are pursuing God and seeing His loving and generous pursuit of you, then you will maximize your ministry, your relationship, and your life.
God is always seeking a relationship with us. He offers His unending love to us, always wanting to work together. So how do we develop and build that lasting relationship? How do we teach this to the children in our programs?
Connecting with God
For kids, they simply need to connect with God as a starting point. It sounds simple, and it can be. They can learn about God by reading the Bible. Throughout this incredible book, there are actual stories of God pursuing connection with people. Some of these stories of God’s pursuit include Naomi, the soldier who believed Jesus could heal his child simply through his faith, Samuel, the Samaritan woman at the well, every single one of the disciples, Zacchaeus, Paul, and so many more.
Kids can learn about God by reading and learning Bible stories on their own or from a trusted adult. They can also learn by listening to the adults and older children in their lives talk about their own experiences with God. God’s big story continues beyond the Bible in all of our lives today.
Talking to God
Kids can talk to God. You can too! The most obvious way to talk to God is through prayer, and there are so very many ways to pray.
Children can fold their hands, bow their heads, and talk to God. They can also raise their faces, open their palms, and talk to God. Kids can sit, they can stand, they can lay down and talk to God. They can talk to God when they are waking up, going to sleep, sitting down to eat, at practice, or riding in the car. We can talk to God at any time of day.
The important thing is to begin a conversation. God is there listening, ready to build that important relationship and then grow and develop it throughout our lives.
God pursues us always. Relationships grow when we also pursue God.
Another way to connect in a relationship is to do things together. Invite God into the beginning of the day, each morning. “Good morning, God! Please be with me today and work through me.” Once you start this and make it a habit, you will be a wonderful model of showing the kids in your program how to do this for themselves.
Another way to spend time with God is through service projects, helping other people.
God is not only always with us but all around us. Go find God. Take a walk and look for something in nature you’ve never seen before. Encourage the children to look for God in the things they see around them on a walk through their neighborhood, or somewhere special like a park, arboretum, or on trails. Follow an ant trail; watch a bird and track its movements; trail a squirrel and look for its nest; get up close to a flower, or a leaf, or a puddle and study it … use your imagination and see God in new ways.
This will strengthen your relationship because God is right there, waiting to be discovered and pursued. The same creative God who created all of creation also created you and loves you very much.
Here are some ideas of activities that can help children to grow in their relationship with God:
- Write regular letters to God.
- Put thoughts to God on sticky notes and spread them throughout your room.
- Write to God in a journal as a form of prayer.
- Draw pictures to connect with God.
It seems simple because it is simple.
When kids learn something new, encourage them to video chat with family members or friends and share it with them. Sit with kids and let them create their very own plan to pursue God. They will have wonderful ideas!
Building a Relationship for a Lifetime
This is the foundation work for building a relationship with God. We pursue this at varying levels of success throughout our lives. Just like any relationship, it takes commitment and work. There will be good days and bad days. Remember that as you serve God and your church community, take time to do these activities and pursue God yourself. He will be thrilled, and you will be amazed as you identify His pursuit of you as well.