Two of the biggest reasons kids walk away from their faith as adults are: 1) they were never given a space to express and process their doubts in church and 2) they were never pushed to personally own their faith (they went to church because they felt pressured to by others, not because they actually wanted to).
At our church, as we thought about how we could provide opportunities and spaces for kids to express doubts and take personal ownership of their faith, we began to experiment with what we call experiential services.
In these services, we begin with a five- to 10-minute lesson on topics like “Why It’s Okay to Have Questions About Your Faith,” “How to Hear From God,” “Why Personal Repentance and Forgiveness Are So Important,” etc.
After the lesson, each kid gets a sheet of paper with sections for four to five stations, which we make available for kids to then personally explore their faith.
Once our students have completed all the stations, we collect the papers to give to parents at checkout, so parents can continue to help their kids process the information outside of church.
And at the end, we bring everyone back together corporeally to worship God as the united body of Christ.
Here are stations we’ve done in the past:
Kids come to ask questions about God or their faith.
Depending on the kids’ age, they or a leader will write down the question(s).
Then a leader walks through each question with the kids.
The leader begins by asking what the kid thinks (they may already have a good idea of the answer, and just need an adult to confirm that it’s right).
If the kid has no thoughts about what the answer may be, the leader then answers the question using examples from the Bible (if they know the answer).
If the leader isn’t sure of the answer, we encourage him or her to be comfortable saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find an answer for you.”
At this point, the question will be passed off for someone on staff to follow-up with the kid and his or her parents.
Kids come to this station to receive prayer from a volunteer leader for anything they want.
We encourage kids to not just think about personal prayer requests but also others they know who need prayer.
Depending on the age, the kid or leader writes down the request.
Then a leader prays with the child.
Afterward, the leader may encourage the child to read a certain passage of scripture or talk to a wise adult as they seek the answer to their prayer requests.
Here kids can either ask God for forgiveness or ask God to help them forgive someone else.
Depending on age, the kid or leader will write down responses.
After the response has been written down, we’ve done several different things: We’ve had the kids pin their responses to a cross, tie them to a helium balloon and release them into the sky, give them to a leader to burn, or put them on a long string with everyone else’s to show that everyone needs forgiveness.
We’ve done this one a couple of ways as well.
The first is to simply tell kids to take a few minutes to listen to God, and then write down or draw what God impresses on them.
The second way is to do a guided journal by having them finish sentences like “My favorite thing I did with my family this summer was…” or “I want my parents to help me become a better follower of Jesus by…”
At this station, a leader talks with kids about different ways they can worship God.
He or she tells kids they can worship by singing out loud, listening, journaling, drawing, standing, sitting, kneeling, going on walks in nature and many other ways.
Then we give them an opportunity to worship how they feel comfortable.
Afterward, we have them write down how they feel most connected to God, so parents know the ways in which their kids feel most comfortable and most connected worshipping.
Have you done anything similar at your church? What are some stations that have been really powerful for kids?
This article originally appeared here.