2. Challenge. Provide opportunities for kids to
move out of their comfort zones. One Sunday morning, arrange for
older elementary kids to visit other Sunday schools at churches in
your community. Immediately afterward, bring kids back to your
church for a time of debriefing and sharing. Have groups of kids
discuss these questions.
- How did you feel as the newcomer?
- Did you receive a warm welcome?
- Was it uncomfortable to be the newcomer? Why or why not?
- How can you use this experience to help new kids who visit our
church feel more welcome?
Then have the kids discuss their insights with the whole class
and brainstorm ways to help visitors feel more welcome.
3. Reinforce. Train kids according to these
core values. Reinforce God's expectations for our behavior.
- Respect. Teach kids to accept others'
differences. Help kids build relationships with others from varying
backgrounds through the use of small groups.
- Responsibility. Teach kids that we have a
responsibility as children of God to love others through our words
and actions. Provide kids opportunities to serve others through
outreach activities and missions projects.
- Reverence. Teach kids to take respect a step
further by honoring others as Christ did. Teach kids about
forgiveness and encourage them to reach out to kids who may have
bullied or hurt them.
4. Instruct. Show kids what the Bible teaches
about the qualities of friends, using these passages: Proverbs
11:13; 12:26; 17:17; 22:24-25; and 26:18-19. Have groups of kids
read the Scripture verses. Then have groups create lists of
friendship characteristics that are pleasing to God. Hang the lists
in your Sunday school room as a reminder.
Above all, teach children that as members of the body of Christ,
we don't need cliques. Jesus is the greatest friend we'll ever
have. His love and friendship are what we need most.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for
his friends...I have called you friends, for everything that I
learned from my Father I have made known to you" John 15:12-15.
Laurie Copley is a freelance writer and the mother of three.
Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are
subject to change.
John Hoover is a leading child-aggression expert, and has
conducted research in the area of bullying for more than 11 years.
Here are some of the statistics John has discovered in his
- Teasing and verbal harassment are the primary forms of bullying
across all ages and genders.
- Ten percent of all children are chronically picked on by their
peers -- severely enough to be traumatized by it.
- Bullies tend to have above-average physical strength.
- Most bullies have either average or above-average
- Bullies look for victims that are socially acceptable to pick
on, have below-average physical strength, and are easily
According to John, we need to teach kids assertiveness skills to
protect them from bullies. A bully will back off 75 to 80 percent
of the time if a youngster assertively says, "Stop that! I don't
like it when you tease me, and I want you to quit it! If you don't
quit it, I'm going to tell an adult!" For timid children, that
requires social-skills training.
Encourage children to get help from an adult if they're being
bullied. The mythology among kids is that if you involve an adult,
the bullying will get worse, but the evidence doesn't support
"We need to acknowledge to kids that this hurts, and we're going
to be there and be supportive," says John. "I think that's
particularly incumbent for adults who profess to believe in the
lordship of Christ. We're talking about regard for another human
being's hurt. It's a special ministry to be an adult who can be
sensitive to that kind of hurting in a child."
Excerpted from Children's Ministry Magazine. Subscribe today!