Today’s blog entry is from Janet Logan, who blogs regularly on children and spirituality at childcenteredspirituality.com.
“My name is Drew and I am 15 years old. I was in Confident Kids from 4th-6th grade and I loved it. I was able to get my problems out and talk and cry and show that I was really hurting.” Drew is one of many kids in every town and city in any country who is “really hurting” emotionally–no matter how churchgoing or God-loving he or his family may be.
Children’s emotional needs are perhaps more visible than ever before. Yet children often spend just one hour a week in church, with the result being that the children’s workers simply do not have time to teach Bible stories, memory verses, music, and be responsive to the deepest emotional needs of so many of today’s kids. As a result, many pastors live with the feeling that we aren’t helping the kids who need us most. We know that children—either inside or outside of the church– are trying to cope with the death of a loved one, a new baby, a step-parent or blended family, separation or divorce, a loved one’s substance abuse or arrest. But we aren’t sure what we can do about it. Have you ever thought: Wouldn’t it be great if we had a place to give focused time and attention to kids going through change and loss? A place where we could support and encourage kids and teach them skills to cope with their life circumstances? Wouldn’t it be a dream come true if we could help their parents, too? At no charge?
Working together– with each other and with the community at large– churches can do this. I started a new chapter of Confident Kids in my neighborhood this year. Every family comes from a different church in the area because their respective ministers were willing to put a flyer in the bulletin. One church allowed me to make a verbal announcement. A children’s support group unifies clergy like few other issues because the need is so obvious and so great.
In my nearly 25 years of leadership, children’s support groups have been applauded by the community as well:
- I am allowed to leave flyers in counseling agencies with one or more counselors on their staff who specialize in child and/or family therapy.
- Lawyers and legal aid services that assist parents with legal issues make referrals.
- Adult rehabilitation programs inform their people about the groups.
- Local Twelve-Step groups announce the groups.
Maybe this is what the community expects us to be about.
If you’re interested in working together with others in your community, here are some possible next steps:
- Put the idea on the agenda at your next city-wide Clergy Fellowship.
- If your church already has a family support group, open wide the doors to families in other churches or to unchurched families by diversifying your promotional communications.
- Research curriculum options, such as:
- Confident Kids: “An international organization that has been promoting Christian support group programs for children ages 4-12 (and their parents) since 1990. Our primary goal is to help churches and other organizations begin a children’s support group ministry in their own communities.”
- Rainbows for All Children: “Dedicated to being the premier source of support for all youth as they navigate grief and heal from loss, whether from death, divorce, deployment, or other trauma.”
- DivorceCare for Kids: “Your kids probably feel scared, sad, and confused after your divorce. They know you have been hurt deeply. As a result, they may hide their feelings because they are worried about your happiness or because they do not know how to express their feelings appropriately. DC4K helps them process those feelings and gives them tools to communicate better with you.”