by Bob Singleton, head worship guy at God’s Kids Worship®
I worked for several years as music director for the top-rated children’s TV show on PBS (Barney™ & Friends). It might surprise you, but there is a lot of research that goes on for shows like that. While I was there, top experts in child development submitted papers and reported on kid’s reactions to episodes, while staff education researchers roamed the halls and reviewed scripts by comparing them to all the best information on child development.
What amazes me still about all the research that I saw and discussed, is how it shows God’s fingerprints on all of us. The evidence of God’s creative presence in the development of every member of mankind is undeniable.
Research indicates there are critical needs at three stages of development, that all kids express. I believe that kids ministry leaders and parents are best equipped to address those needs. Let me be clear: these are nearly universal, cross-cultural, critical, and life-forming developmental needs.
What are those three needs? What is it that many researchers say must be addressed to become fully developed adults; and are best answered by kids ministry leaders and parents?
Each need arises as kids grow through three stages, loosely defined as pre-school, elementary, and early adolescence. This may come as a surprise, but you probably already know the answers. You’ll be amazed that what seems like common sense to you, is sometimes a revelation to researchers. Here it is:
Research shows pre-schoolers really want, more than anything else, to feel safe, and loved. We saw this over and over in focus groups of kids from every cultural and socio-economic background we could test. Wouldn’t you say that’s true for every pre-schooler that you’ve seen?
Here’s the payoff: Who better to help kids feel safe and loved than parents and kids
ministry leaders? Tell them that God loves and cares for them, and that you love and care for them too. Show them what that means.
Elementary kids –
These kids want to have fun, and discover. That’s it. Laugh it up. Giggles and belly laughs. And then, ask the interminable “why,” “what” and “how” questions.
Payoff – Who better to show them that God’s world is fun, fascinating, fully of mystery, and shows his handiwork, than kids ministry leaders and parents? And, who better to show them the one true joy, the Joy of the Lord that can be their life-long joy, strength and supply?
Building on the developments from the previous stages, these adults-in-waiting desperately want to know who they are, and how they fit in.
Payoff – You can offer them the eternal answer to these questions. Show them that they are a child of God, and that God has a perfect plan for their life that fits them better than anything the world can possibly offer.
That’s it. That research is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet we probably intuitively already know the needs, and, importantly, can supply the answers that have eternal consequences for kids near you in every stage of life.
So, remember: Pre-schoolers need to feel safe and loved. Elementary kids want to discover and have fun. Adolescents want to know who they are, and how they fit in.
God has every answer to all of their questions. Show them the One Answer, and change their lives forever.
Bob Singleton is President of God’s Kids Worship® at http://www.godskidsworship.com, which makes kids ministry worship music for download, DVDs and CDs. He’s also a Grammy–nominated, and 4 time Dove–nominated composer & producer. He’s worked in kids ministry at his church while raising his 3 daughters.