There are a lot of “asks” in life. As married adults, our spouses will ask for us to run errands, help fix something, or our opinion on different matters. Kids and teenagers are often asked to do homework, help pick up siblings, help with yard work, sit still and pay attention, or potentially many other things. At times, it seems whether we are 8 years old or 88 years old that, people are always asking something of us. Quite frankly, it can get draining even if our true heart’s desire is to serve and submit well.
With this framework in mind, I’m very careful about how often and what I ask of my wife, my family, and the volunteer leaders I serve alongside. I don’t want my reputation to be one of every time someone sees my name on their phone or sees me coming down the hall, they want to hit the decline button or walk the other direction because they know I need them to do something. As leaders, we always need help. People know this, it is no secret, especially in the local church setting. Volunteers want to feel valued and like they are making a difference. Therefore, it is important that even before we ask, they know we value them and love them no matter what. After all, that should be why we are asking them to help with something in the first place.
I spend most of my days and weeks working with kids and students and with those that work with or parent kids and students. When it comes to asking kids and students, I’m also very careful how often I do this and in the manner in which I do this. Especially students can often feel like you are just using them because they are gifted and talented in a certain area or because they are simply available.
There are three things I’m fairly consistent in asking kids and students to bring with them to church every week (outside of themselves, of course).
Their Bible. This may seem like a no-brainer, or it may even seem as if we are only desiring the “committed Christian” to show up. However, in the ministries I lead, I want it to be no secret we are a people of the Bible. It is the most important book you can ever engage with. Period. If we can get a Bible in every kid’s and student’s hands that they can read and understand and instill in them and their parents the importance of daily Bible reading/engagement, then we are helping lay a crucial foundation in their life. It is impossible to disciple a person without Bible engagement. Therefore, I often say, “Be sure and bring your Bible with you. If you don’t have one or one that is easy for you to understand, come see me or one of the leaders, and we will be sure and get you one as soon as possible.”
A friend. The local church should always be a safe, fun, and exciting place for kids and students to bring their friends. The big picture is we want to instill into kids and students the importance of building healthy relationships with others. Then they/we have an opportunity to share the Gospel with others. Also, especially in the next generation, they want to be where their friends are. We don’t want to be event-driven, but we do want to create environments that foster community. Therefore, I will often say things like, “See you Wednesday at 6pm with a friend!” Also, while promoting an event I will say something like, “This is an incredible thing to bring friends to that may not go to church or are looking for a new church.”
A willingness to learn and grow. I realize this is not a person or object, but it is still very important. We want kids and students to know, in a very age-appropriate way, that we are a ministry, and we desire for them to grow spiritually and learn all they can about God, His plan of redemption, the Church, how to live on mission and many other things about the Christian life. This is the age they are most eager to learn, so we must capitalize on that. Therefore, I will often say something like, “Be ready to learn something very exciting this coming Sunday,” or I will give them a well-crafted, short, catchy phrase and then say, “You want to find out what this means… we will see you at church tonight!” This helps create a little bit of curiosity and an eagerness to learn more.
We don’t want to “ask” just for the sake of asking or sounding like a broken record. We have intentional asks because we care about the next generation and their walk with Jesus.