9 Strategies for Reaching Over-Churched Kids

In a previous post, I described the spiritual dangers for overly religious kids. I was writing about kids who get too much church and not enough relationship with Jesus. Most of the comments from that post were supportive and agreed with my assessment. Many readers saw a connection with being over-churched and giving up on church as teenagers. That makes this issue even more urgent.

No the hard part – doing something about the problem.

In this article I will offer specific ways you can help those children overcome those dangers. This is my first attempt to dealt with this topic, so your input is important. Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

1. Empower Them To Teach: If they really know it all, why not let them assist you in teaching. This should be done with care, because they might not have the spiritual maturity to fly solo. But there are many ways to get them involved. It’s like Amy wrote on our Facebook Page, “The way I use kids who have heard the bible stories a hundred times over is to put them in the teaching role. One of the best Sunday’s I ever had is when a few girls who had been in church since day one of their lives explained Jesus’ death and resurrection to kids who didn’t even know who Jesus was. I was so proud of them.”

2. Teach for Heart Change: Educators call this the affective domain or emotional learning. When our teaching only targets the cognitive domain, we can miss the heart. Over-churched kids need transformational learning that can move their attitudes and values. This is at the core of effective Sunday School teaching.

3. Use Creative Storytelling: The Word of God is the most amazing document ever created. Poor storytelling can get the facts right and completely miss the soul of the story. Over-churched kids have suffered through too much of this and need creative Bible teaching. Do the extra work and make your story amazing. Here are some hints for creative Bible storytelling.

Wayne shared this idea in our forums, “If they already know the story, having them act it out, or play a game show, or something else active will be more likely to keep their interest than just telling a story.”

4. Pray for Every Child: Sometimes the deepest problems require a spiritual solution. Ask God to make a difference for those over-churched kids. It’s great when we pray for those outside the church, but don’t forget to lift up those familiar names to the Lord. Remember, effective ministry depends on prayer.

5. Teach the Bad News: According to the Bible, we are all sinners who have earned the displeasure of God. Without Jesus, we would have no hope of passing God’s judgment. Over-churched kids need to realize that they too need a Savior. They need to learn about sin. Keep teaching the 10 Commandments, but also teach what Jesus said about loving your neighbor. None of us can really meet those standards on our own.

6. Model Repentance: With over-churched kids, we can’t pretend that Christians are always the good guys. They see behind our Sundy morning smiles and know that we’re not perfect people. When we are honest about our failings, and confess our sins, it points them to the Gospel. When teaching, use examples of Christian repentance and be transparent about your own struggles. This is a key to parenting, but it’s also a great strategy for kids ministry.

7. Make It Relevant: Connecting the Bible content with real life is something we often overlook. Even kids who have heard all the stories need help connecting the dots to real life. Kristi made this point on our Facebook page, “I find those kids get more involved if you can make it relevant to what they are going through at the time.” So take a few minutes and think about relevance. Why does this Bible lesson really matter in each child’s life? How can the truth of this passage help them with the problems they are facing?

8. Go Deeper: Why not flip this challenge around and take these over-churched kids even deeper into the Bible verse. Let them struggle with the hard stories in the Bible. Show them the questions that Christians still debate. Help them integrate theology and move beyond milk. This was also something Wayne suggested on our forums, “ It seems like this would give you a great opportunity to go deeper with the stories since you don’t have to spend as much time on the basics of storytelling. I’m not sure what this would look like, especially in terms of the others (kids just learning about God), but it seems like an awesome opportunity.”

9. Get Them On Mission: The message of Christianity was not made just for hearing, God wants us to embrace the mission of Jesus and participate in the new creation now. Too much learning and not enough doing is always a problem. Find ways to get kids involved in sharing the Gospel, serving the poor, and laying down their lives for others. Help them serve in the community or get them involved in missions. Jonathan made a great point about this in his comment, “My kids are in church all the time…so I fight constantly to remind them that most of doing what the Bible says happens in our schools, on the soccer fields, and at our house.”

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what ideas you have about breaking through to these over-churched kids. What strategies work best? What actually drives them farther away from God? Leave a comment below to respond. Here is the link for What I said about Over Churched Children


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