Isn't That What We Hope For?

Encouraging kids to live a missional lifestyle looks much different today from when Girls in Action started over 100 years ago. Children today have changed a great deal. Through quite a bit of research and observation, we know that today’s kids do not learn in the same ways as children of previous generations.

We know that today’s generation of children have a great need to control their world, solve problems in their own way, and come to conclusions based on creations they’ve made and lessons they’ve learned. Gone are the days of “sit and get.” So how do we, as children’s ministers and missions leaders, reach our kids in a way that will make God’s love and sharing that love with others a prominent part of their lives?

Children today need to learn about a missionary’s experiences and then create a plan for what they would do in a similar experience or setting. They need to talk to their peers and work as a team to apply missions to their own lives. Children need to take part in designing a missions experience to fit their interests and abilities. In short, kids need to own missions by putting their signature spin on an experience designed to teach them about missions and their role in extending God’s love to others.

A few years ago, we asked you to take your GAs to a local laundry facility and distribute laundry detergent while your group visited with people using the facility. We encouraged you to help your girls invite those they encountered to church. Groups that allowed their kids to take the lead in planning this event saw the children grow in a deeper understanding and passion for telling others about Jesus. These children came away with deeper insights regarding missions in their own hometown. These children definitely did not “sit and get” that night. They grew in knowledge and began to apply it in their lives.

The kids you work with deserve your guidance to make each week’s experience something wonderful—even better than we could have imagined.

Let me warn you: teaching children this way can be frustrating! Be aware that every project in your classroom has the potential to look different, sound different, and even have a different purpose, depending on the child. But as long as each child is learning to apply missions to his or her own life, a bit of frustration on your part is well worth the learning experience for that child.

Encouraging children to grow this way ensures that all children begin to apply missional living to their own lives. Isn’t that what we hope for?

 

Heather Keller is the Girls in Action and Children in Action consultant at national WMU. In addition to leading GA, she is a certified middle school and secondary teacher. Heather and her husband, Tommy, live in Birmingham, AL, and are raising two fun-loving boys who keep the family busy with nature walks, fishing, and camping.

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