By Shirley Carlson
What does it mean to "partner" with children and youth? Do we treat them as equal partners in our churches and at home? Do we want to? How does God answer that question? Jesus said, "Let the children come unto me." There are other references to partnering with youth in the Bible as well. "Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3-4). God intends for us to learn from each other.
When we partner with someone or a group, it means we do something together. We share in the risks and the benefits. I believe it is important for us to learn from each other. We cannot expect our children or youth to be silent partners. Some churches have youth serving on various committees within the church. Minimally, they should have a voice on the Student Ministry committee. Some churches have youth serving as elders.
Do you have intergenerational small groups? Here are some things to think about when offering small groups.
This article is for parents but it may seem like it is geared towards the church. You are the church! If children and youth are only "seen, but not heard," then you must raise the consciousness of those who determine the programming and worship experiences in your church. Certainly in LOGOS churches, children are seen, and hopefully heard. Make sure we are truly listening to what they have to say.
Another word for partnership is teamwork. Parents, are you offering your children the opportunity to experience partnerships at home? If we teach teamwork at home, hopefully it will help them to be a partner at church. Find activities that offer you the opportunity to work together on a project. Planting and maintaining a garden teaches cooperation and responsibility. Teamwork means not only doing the work together, but also the planning and purchasing. Going to the nursery and picking out the plants can be a fun outing. It could involve a trip to the library or searching the internet to get ideas. Planning a vacation can be another opportunity to partner together. Partner with your child to create a thank you gift for someone. Take on a special service project together. Yes, it does take more time to work on partnering with our kids, but the rewards are worth it.