Same Old, Same Old…Not!

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Doing children’s ministry the way it’s always been done will
never work to reach this generation. Discover real ways to minister
to today’s kids!

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You’re running out of time with children! And if you don’t learn
new ways to communicate to them, your ministry is fast becoming
irrelevant!

Interested in making the most of the time you have? Read on!

People who’ve invested billions of dollars to find out how to
communicate with children have found that they have only seconds to
capture a child’s attention. We in ministry are no exception. We
too have only seconds to capture their attention. This is the
difference between kids getting the message or just memorizing
it.

We have to be careful that we don’t rely so much on safe
approaches to ministry-the things that worked before — that we’re
unwilling to try new things. In their book Getting Real (NavPress),
Ken Baugh and Rich Hurst say, “The tendency of many churches is to
settle in, get comfortable, and create ‘sacred cows’ that over time
become ineffective in discipling believers and reaching the
unchurched. Many churches have embraced safety, security, and
comfort instead of taking risks and stepping out in faith.”

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I realized shortly after coming to Crossroads Christian Church in
Corona, California, that something needed to change. I saw children
in classrooms memorizing Bible verses, and yet not experiencing
wholehearted worship. They were in their little age-group worlds,
and they weren’t interacting with children of other ages. What
struck me the most was a lack of passion for Christ, a lack of
hunger and thirst for his Word, and a lack of intimate fellowship,
prayer, and worship among the kids.

So I began to search for what kids want so we could attract kids
to God and lead them into an intimate relationship with God. We’ve
learned new ways to capture the hearts and minds of kids today as
we’ve developed Kidsworld-a fresh, new approach in children’s
ministry that meets kids where they are and brings them into an
intimate relationship with God. One of the programs that emerged
from this new vision was called Camp Crossroads.

• • •

“Camp Crossroads is a magical place for children, because the
staff and volunteers have created an incredible experience for
children,” says Barry McMurtrie, the senior pastor at Crossroads
Christian Church. “Our kids are now able to discover God’s kingdom
in exciting ways. God’s hand is definitely upon this fresh new
approach to ministry.”

Camp Crossroads is a Sunday evening program for multiple age
groups that’s taking Corona by storm. This program is a
one-of-a-kind ministry experience with action, adventure, and
powerful spiritual worship. Prior to Camp Crossroads beginning, our
Sunday night kids’ attendance was around 50 kids. In less than
three months, attendance at Camp Crossroads peaked at more than 400
kids!

We discovered that incorporating the principles of effective
communication with kids could change everything. If we want the
kids to listen to us, we must listen to them. To paraphrase Jess
Moody in A Drink at Joel’s Place, “You have to take notice of what
they take notice of or they won’t take notice of you.” When it
comes to effective ways to communicate with kids, we had to face
the fact that communication today has changed. Kids today now have
an interactive mindset; they’re no longer a passive audience.

With all of this research in mind, we embraced a journey that has
brought us exactly where we want to be-for the moment. We
discovered that what kids want changes constantly, sometimes daily,
but their consistent interests are humor, fresh experiences they
can’t get anywhere else, interaction with other kids, competition,
fun, high-energy excitement, and unexpected surprises. This is Camp
Crossroads.

Camp Crossroads’ theme statement is “go to camp every week without
leaving town.” Camp Crossroads is made of four separate camps each
year. This four-camp structure is designed to provide the variety
that keeps kids interested. We change the camp theme for each camp.
With each new theme comes a whole new environment, new staging,
team wear, curriculum, activities, sights, and sounds. We want to
create a new experience and a sense of anticipation with each new
camp opening. Camp Crossroads includes the following standard
components.

A LINE
Anything worth doing seems to have a line. Attractions at Disney
theme parks, popular new movies, and even McDonald’s restaurants
have lines. We have a line of parents and children prior to opening
our doors each night — a big line! The line moves quickly and has
plenty of planned line activities and energy. We wanted a line to
increase anticipation for the kids. It worked!

The presence of a line produces many surprising results. One
evening we had a huge line of probably 600 or more parents and
kids. As I walked the line passing out “not messy” stickers
(brightly colored stickers so parents can tell us not to get a
child messy) to those who wanted them, I was overwhelmed by the
fact that I was witnessing people waiting in line to go to church!
My husband, who also serves on our team, was stopped by a couple in
line who said, “Excuse me, sir. What is this line for?” They were
new to the church and saw all the people rushing to stand in the
line. They didn’t want to miss whatever was happening, so they got
in line without even knowing why!

LIVE WORSHIP ON STAGE
We discovered that kids respond powerfully to seeing kids on stage
leading them in worship. Each night’s worship team is made up of
kids who volunteer to lead worship that night. We find these kids
in line. This is a first-come, first-serve opportunity! Our worship
kids receive bandannas and a special shirt to set them apart as a
team. They enter the building early to get ready. They meet with
the worship director to practice the songs, receive basic
instructions on worship leading, find out where they’ll stand (on
blocks) on stage, and then share a meaningful prayer time together.
After this preparation, they’re equipped with wireless headsets and
plenty of enthusiasm.

They then become the greeters as the camp opens and the rest of
the kids enter the room. They stand in a line, looking incredibly
professional, and are the “stars” as they give a high five to their
entering peers.

After the entrance, they stand in back waiting for their cue. The
worship director opens the program with a lively “Are you ready to
worship?” The worship leaders run up, find their places on stage,
and lead the other kids in worship. During worship, the words to
the songs aren’t displayed. We want the focus to be on the Lord,
not the words. We desire an attitude of worship, and kids learn the
words quickly. Knowing the words isn’t as important as knowing
God!

We encourage all our adult volunteers (camp counselors) to roam
around the room and give high fives to the kids during the first
song. We also want the counselors to worship along with the kids.
We choose adult contemporary worship songs, and we want the kids to
see the counselors really worshiping.

We shy away from canned-sounding music or any type of hand motions
or choreography. The kids are sharp and know the difference between
live people really worshiping or canned music done in a
studio.

I’ll never forget seeing one little boy kneel down on the floor
during worship. Soon, the whole row of kids also fell to their
knees! Now, when we try to high five the kids during the first
song, we can’t because their eyes are shut and they’re worshiping!
This transformation in our kids’ intimacy with God brings tears to
our volunteers’ eyes.

     

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