Nix the Newbie Syndrome—in Kids Ministry

041715Have you ever been the newbie? Let me tell you, it’s a rough stage to be in. As an adult, you may have to reach far back into your childhood memories to re-live what it feels like to be the new kid on the block. Maybe you had to transfer to a new school when your family relocated across the country. Or you may have simply been the newest member of your sports or music team. Regardless of the reason, most of us have endured that awkward newcomer feeling at some point in our lifetime. And whether you’re a child, teen, or grown adult—starting a new venture in a new place with new people can be somewhat distressful. Grown-ups have the benefit of having lived through several transitional times, and should therefore respond to newbies in their circles of influence with joy and openness. This is so important in any situation to create a culture of unity and genuine friendliness. It’s also vital in the church setting—especially when it comes to reaching kids!   The local church is a family of faith made up of Christians who are called to share the good news of God’s love with others. The goal should be one of welcoming all who attend, including children who are often shy or afraid of new surroundings. As a kid’s leader at church, how do you make this possible? When Kids Attend Your Small Group… Smile! Sounds too simple but it works. It’s hard to stay scared and lonely when there’s someone smiling at you. So when you greet children as they arrive, the first thing you can do is flash your pearly whites their way. Chances are, they’ll quickly start smiling back at you. Get Acquainted Everyone, young and old, likes to feel that others are interested in them. Ask kids easy-to-answer questions: “Where do you go to school?” “Do you have brothers or sisters? How old are they?” “Tell me about your weekend. What was the most fun thing you did?” “Where did you go on family vacation this past summer?” Play the Name Game
  • Use nametags on the front of kids’ shirts to help you call on them by name.
  • Play get-acquainted games, rehearsing their first names with fun facts about them such as, “My name is Mollie and I like strawberry ice cream!” Continue playing this type of game until all the children can call out each other’s first names along with their fun fact.
Repetition in creative ways makes learning names much more fun and easy to remember. Invite Them Back As kids are released to their parents at the end of class, be sure to speak directly to the children as they leave. This gives them one more positive, personal “touch” from you. Say, “Matthew, it was fun having you in class today. Be sure and come next week. We’ll be here to see you!” “Kelsey, thanks for helping pass out the pencils today. I’ll see you here next week!” If time allows at the door, be sure and quickly tell the parents something their child participated in during class time—and stay positive! “Aleah answered several questions during our story review and had a great time with her friend Scotlyn.” Simply by putting yourself in the place of newbies to your group will remind you do everything possible to help them feel accepted and wanted. Ask God to help you each week to make church a good experience for each child and family that attends. Can you do me a favor? If these ideas resonate with you, would you:   • REACT. Do something.   • RESPOND. Leave a comment on this post.   • REPOST. Repost this link on Twitter, Facebook or your blog.