Rules of Engagement

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[Rule#2] Speak the language of fun.

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There are no laws that say church can’t be off-the-chain,
hysterical fun. I’ve heard feedback from parents (who are often
your best gauge) who’ve confirmed this rule for me time and time
again. There will always be the occasional eyebrow-raiser parent,
but much more frequently I have parents going out of their way
making appointments with me during the work week, all just to tell
me that their child has never liked coming to church before now.
They tell me their kids are dragging them out of bed on Sunday
mornings. They tell me stories of how their children are learning
about the promises God has for them. They’re excited about the ways
they see their kids integrate faith into their day-to-day
lives.

Kids are naturally drawn to what’s fun. (So are we, for that
matter.) And fun comes in all kinds of packages. It comes in all
forms — shared leadership with kids, great media, challenges kids
actually relate to, and all number of things specific to today’s
kids. When you take fun — the language of children — and use it
strategically to draw kids into your ministry, it gets their
attention. It communicates to them that you value them and the
things they like. It opens their hearts to the really important
things you — and more importantly God — have to say to
them.

[Rule#3] Speak the language of the day.

When you’re attempting to engage kids who are wired up to their
eyeballs in high-speed, always available, fully interactive
entertainment and information…well, you just have to try harder
than you used to. Meaning, you’ve got to be able to speak — or at
least understand — the language kids do. Your history, expertise,
and life experience all make you a valuable influence in kids’
lives. But if your examples, language, or references feel outdated
to kids, they’ll likely also seem not applicable to kids’ lives. So
keep up on pop culture. Keep up on kids’ trends. Know what’s
happening in the world as it relates to kids.

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Use of stale pop-culture elements in your lessons can actually
work against you and quickly lead kids into the tailspin of
disengagement. If you’re going to truly engage kids, be passionate
about persistently discovering what they’re interested in. Their
interests change relentlessly, so that means you can’t slack in
this area. It’s well worth your time-and it’s fun — to stay in
touch with what engages kids outside in the real world. The more
you can incorporate last week’s quotes from Nickelodeon’s latest
hit show or make use of one of Disney’s hottest pop star’s songs,
the more you’ll speak the language of your audience. Regularly use
key quotes, characters, and fresh video clips when you teach, and
you’ll snap those kids back into engagement and better drive home
your point.

If you always take time to get acquainted with the latest in
appropriate pop-culture, kids will notice. And when kids notice
that you’re interesting, fun, and in touch with reality, it sets
you up well for your communication and dialogue with them. When
kids know you’re plugged into their world, they’ll be engaged
before you even start talking because they already know they can
relate to you.

     

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