Emily Smith, Children’s Specialist, Evangelism+Church Health Team

During this time of year as the holidays draw near, I’m reminded of how God has blessed us in so many ways, especially with the gift of His Son Jesus. It’s a time to give thanks in everything, even in the bustle of the ongoing festivities. I remember as a young child growing up in the church, there were so many leaders that influenced my life. To me, they were the sweet ladies that had an extra hug or cookie to spare, or the gentlemen who had a fun handshake or extra quarter to share. But to my mom—they were her support group. They were the Sunday School teachers that taught my sister and I every week. They were the stand-in grandparents when two preschoolers had to sit quietly while their dad preached in the pulpit. They were the children’s church leaders, choir directors, and Wednesday night teachers. They were the leaders that supported and made Kids Ministry happen within the church—they were my church family.  

According to the book Flip the Script, kids and students need “four types of relationships”—friends, leaders, influencers, and pastors—”to truly connect to the church and experience belonging.” I’m so glad I had many influencers in my life who provided a place of belonging for me as I grew spiritually within the church. My prayer today is that my own kids have influencers in their lives as they grow up in our new church family. Leaders—the unsung heroes in my book—the Sunday School teachers, kids choir directors, Wednesday night leaders, and even the volunteers checking people in for Wednesday night meals, are the spiritual influencers I get to call my church family today.  

As you check another item off the to-do list this holiday season, remember to thank God for His many blessings in your life, but also remember to thank the spiritual influencers that make the day-to-day activities of ministry happen. This can easily be done through a small handwritten note, a yummy pie from the local market with a cute saying, or just by leaving their favorite snack with a note in their teaching room. Better yet, have the children that these influencers are impacting make a hand-made card or a short video saying thank you. These two little words can go a long way during the busyness of this season.  

It’s through God’s goodness we can be thankful. Remember too, as Psalm 106:1 states, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” Today, I wish I could say thank you to the influencers from my childhood, but instead, I will say thank you to all the leaders, teachers, and volunteers who are standing in the gap each week for the sake of the next generation. Thank you.  

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