Kids are hard-wired for action.
They struggle–as we all know too well–to sit and listen.
Kids want to DO.
They are driven to participate. They crave the opportunity to take part.
Doing something is their oxygen.
That’s why the most powerful words to enter a kid’s ear are: “I need a volunteer.”
When kids hear these magic words they understand that you are giving them an opportunity to get out of their metal chair and do something.
To an adult, the word “volunteer” is a nasty term that means they are being urged to work for free.
To an elementary kid, it means they have the opportunity to experience something new, something that MIGHT even be fun.
When I first started in children’s ministry after having been a lead pastor and an associate pastor, I knew how adult ministry worked.
I knew adults would be somewhat attentive if they enjoyed the presentation.
They might tune you out, but they will still sit respectfully.
Kids will let you know if they don’t like what you are doing to try to win their attention. They give immediate feedback.
So when I brought in a world-class worship band with some of the finest musicians in the Tampa Bay area, I thought they would be impressed and attentive.
I was wrong.
They tuned out the music, even though it was some cool, rockin’ tunes.
They were expecting to do something and were in no mood to sit and watch.
I saw the same thing happen at an event sponsored by the 700 Club in Virginia Beach.
They brought in hundreds of unchurched families and fed them a Christmas dinner.
They ushered 500 kids into an auditorium where I was prepared to conduct Kidz Blitz Live.
Before me, two rappers performed. They were VERY good.
But by the middle of the second song the kids took over. They had decided they were not interested in sitting still.
The rappers completely lost control. They stopped rapping and began to throw free CDs into the crowd to maintain some semblance of order.
Then they handed the near-riot over to me.
It took 15 minutes, but when the kids understood that I was giving them opportunities to play a cool game on stage, they completely changed.
They became focused, well-behaved and attentive. It was an amazing transformation.
It happened with 500 kids sitting in an auditorium without their parents.
I never told them to be quiet. I never threatened them with any disciplinary action.
But it was as if I brought out the big artillery when I said, “I need a volunteer and I need one that’s sitting up straight.”
And the magic happened. For 90 minutes we played games. We cheered. We laughed. And I weaved the Gospel in to the action.
It ended far differently than how it began because all (as in ALL) kids want to DO, not watch.
People ask me how I maintain order in children’s church.
I use the 4 most powerful words.
The words seldom work with adults, but they are music to a kid’s ears.
It means freedom from the spectator prison.