One thing that can easily happen in children's ministry is that we can get separated from the rest of the church body. Especially when it comes to the senior adults and others who may not have children currently in the department. If the children are not in the sanctuary, those two demographics of the church simply may not have contact with them. This week we are talking about one way to keep the Children's department connected to the rest of the church.
Today I want to talk about PRAYER MAIL. You may already be familiar with this concept, but if not, it's easy to do, costs very little to start up, and the rewards are far reaching. Prayer Mail is a way to connect the children to those outside the children's department by giving the people in your church the opportunity to pray for the children. The first thing you want to do is start a Children's Prayer Team. The easiest way is to take a sign up sheet to all of the adult Sunday School classes and explain what you are doing. Generally I will go into the classes and say something like the following:
"We are starting a Children's Prayer Team and we would like to give you the opportunity to be a part of it. If you sign up, please know you are agreeing to do two things. First, you will receive a list of prayer requests in the children's handwriting each week. Please make a point to pray over those requests and praises at some point during the week. Second, we would ask that you keep the children's requests confidential. They are told that no one outside the prayer team will ever see them and we would like you to help us honor that promise."
You will notice that I make a point of mentioning the confidentiality of the prayer requests. This is important because when children know that no one outside the prayer team will see the requests, they are more free to write what is really on their heart. I have found over the years that children will write things that they have difficulty saying. In fact, several years ago I was even been made aware of one abuse situation through the prayer mail requests and was able to contact CPS. If you would come across such a notification, obviously you must take action, but do not include such requests in the copied lists that are handed out. Perhaps simply put in a note to pray for such and such a child, but do not give details.
The picture on the left shows our prayer mail slips. As you can see, they are pretty simple. During our prayer song each week, the children are given the opportunity to fill out a slip if they would like to do so. The children can write their name, but do not have to. They circle whether it is a prayer request or a praise and then write out their request or praise. We have adults at the Prayer Mail table that will help those who have difficulty writing. After they are done, the children fold the request and put it in the mailbox. The one above was made by a teenager in my church in Missouri, but you can also use a regular mailbox. In my current church, we have a simple plastic mailbox with the words PRAYER MAIL on the side.
Each week I take out the slips, read through them, and add any clarifications that might be needed so that the words or request can be better understood. Occasionally, many of the children will be praying for someone they know, but is not known by those on the prayer team. If that is the case, I might add a note that says, "Bobby is a classmate" or "Jenny is on the local basketball team." I will also make note if a word or phrase is difficult to make out. For those I include a "Translation" on the paper. Then I copy all the requests (usually 3 to a page like shown), fold them, and staple each set so that no one outside the intended prayer team member can accidentally read them. Our secretary prints off labels for me of everyone on the team. Then, I distribute them to the different Sunday School classes each week so that the Team can pick up their lists. If you make labels, I would encourage you to put dates on them so that if someone is absent one week and picks up two the next, they know which list is the most current.
Prayer Mail has been a great way to connect many generations at our church. It gives our older adults and those without children a way to learn about what is affecting the children in our church and it gives those who are already helping in the department the opportunity to better understand the things that weigh on the minds of the children in our services. And it reminds us all to pray for our children...and that is a huge benefit for everyone.
Until next week!