Game Plan for Growth


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3 tools to gauge kids score spiritually

Growing up as an avid soccer player, I was blessed with a high
school coach who poured countless hours of drills and skills into
my training time. As goalie, I was the last line of defense against
the opponents’ opportunity to score. I got the tools I needed to be
successful at my post from countless sweaty sessions of repetitive
training before games — training that prepared me for what I’d
face when practice ended and the real game began.

Shortly before our regional tournament, my coach surprised me
with a new technique in his training methodology. He edited our
game films and compiled a video of all the goals scored on me
during the season. My coach was very thorough — so thorough that
he even edited my errors in slow motion so my weaknesses and
vulnerability became obvious. Though it was uncomfortable to watch
myself make mistakes (especially in slow motion), I was able to
dissect where I’d gone wrong and formulate a corrective approach.
Together we spent hours assessing each goal and determining whether
I was using the techniques I’d learned in practice.

All those pre-game drills and exercises did help prepare me for
the real game, but my real growth as a competitor came during those
sit-downs when my coach and I evaluated my progress and examined my
weaknesses. The game film was living-color proof of the basic
principles of goal-keeping I’d mastered and those I hadn’t quite
grasped. I’ll never forget all the bruises, bleeding knees, and
muddy jerseys that came along with goalie practice, but I know my
learning curve soared when we took time to gauge my progress as a

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In our privileged role as children’s ministers, we spend many
hours in preparation and practice as we deliver lessons to kids.
Our hearts are passionate about preparing these children for a
lifelong walk with Jesus. But how can we know whether children
truly grasp the truths we teach? How can we evaluate what makes it
from practice to the field when it comes to kids’ faith? And how
can we help them make progress in their faith journeys?

Spiritual Scorekeeping

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test
yourselves,” wrote Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. “Surely you know that
Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of
genuine faith. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize
that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.” The
Corinthians had professed faith in Jesus, and Paul was challenging
them to make their walk match their talk. To be effective ministers
to children, we too need to consider how kids’ beliefs play out in
their lives.

Matthew 5:13-16 instructs us to be salt and
light in a dark world. Salt is often described as the more subtle
influence — the small, daily decisions that season our life. Light
is the obvious influence — our words and actions that demonstrate
to the world where our allegiance lies. If you replayed the footage
of your children’s daily lives, what would it reveal about the salt
and light in their lives? What evidence would their words and
actions give that they truly grasp the truths we teach?

A friend of mine went to church every Sunday with his
grandfather. Every Sunday on the way home from church his
grandfather would ask, “What did you learn today at church?” Every
Sunday, my friend answered, “God hates sin.”

The lessons changed weekly, but my friend’s answer remained the
same. As adults we can be so quick to accept kids’ first answers
and be content with “proper” Sunday school responses that we rarely
dig deeper to investigate what truths kids really understand and
where they are spiritually.

Three simple tools can help you gain better understanding of
where your children are spiritually: good questions, life
application, and loving accountability.


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Children's Ministry Magazine

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