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Reaching the Other Kids
Prioritize affirmation and watch little lives change.

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But in too many cases, like with Jason, the adults closest to a child are either too distracted by life, too busy to notice, or too wounded themselves to offer affirmation.

Mentors serve as a priceless supplement for children—and play a clear role in reaching the kids others miss. If you're a mentor to a child: Way to go! I'll try to resist the urge to shamelessly promote KIDS HOPE USA as a program for churches serious about reaching kids through mentors in your community. Today, hundreds of schools patiently wait for a church partner.

But I can't resist the opportunity to offer a challenge.

Think through your interactions with kids—you personally and your ministry. What if you decided that every child would hear affirmation, honest and real words that offer encouragement, every time they attend your church? Remember that some "other kids" likely attend your church, and with a doable amount of deliberate effort, those young lives can change for the better.

Kids often remain just one affirming adult voice away from doing well.

Pastor Jack Hayford once wrote, "It is perhaps among the most humbling features of God's ways with humankind that He confers upon us a staggering degree of power (and responsibility) in the capacity of our words to cause things to happen."

Prioritize affirmation. Repeat it until encouraging words said to kids becomes a routine element of your ministry. And periodically remind everyone. Then watch little lives change. The young eyes that begin to sparkle—some for the first time—will tell the story.

David Staal, senior editor for Building Church Leaders and a mentor to a Kindergarten boy, serves as the president of Kids Hope USA, a national non-profit organization that partners local churches with elementary schools to provide mentors for at-risk students. David is the author of Lessons Kids Need to Learn (Zondervan, 2012) and lives in Grand Haven, MI, with his wife Becky, son Scott, and daughter Erin.

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Topics:Restoration, Self image
Filters:Children's ministry, Children's pastor, Mentoring, Volunteer

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Linda Ranson Jacobs

February 08, 2013  12:00pm

Absolutely agree with everything you said. I work with children of divorce as well as educate children's church leaders. Most people just don't see these kids in group 2. I see them because I've learned to recognize them. Sometimes just a touch, a smile or like you said the opportunity to be noticed goes a long way. When they feel safe with you and recognize that you truly care, they will seek you out at every church event. The hugs, fist bumps and high fives are priceless. In our DC4K groups across the nation (dc4k.org) we see these kids every week. More importantly God sees them. He knows our hearts and He knows these kids need us to teach them about Him.

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