After School Programs: Church Based – At-Risk Kids Need Secondary Nurturers

Second in series on “What At-Risk Kids Need”

After the realization (Story of the Realization) that it would take more than just a drop-in center, more than just a Bible club one day a week, more than just tutoring to make a lasting difference in kids’ lives we designed an intentional training. The training is geared to equip Christian adults to provide at-risk kids the nurturing God intended for them to receive.


Each Potential Secondary Nurturer is:

  • Challenged to deal with personal issues before working with children. (Matthew 18)
    • Examine motive for working with children – is it to satisfy your own emotional needs or to meet needs of children.
    • Examine personal relationship with Jesus – knows God and knows His power?
  • Taught principles of child development.
  • Taught how to communicate with children at a level they will understand, abstract vs. concrete.
  • Taught how to assist child to transition through emotional/psychological stages already passed chronologically.
  • Taught to not agree with child’s wrong assumptions!  “I can’t do that.”
  • Taught to set firm boundaries, to be consistent in carrying out critical consequences.
  • Taught to look for teachable moments for child to receive subtle nurturing often lacking in the development of at-risk children.
    • On an outing, a group of kids climbed up a steep rocky hill they had been told not to climb.  At the top they froze in fear and yelled down to their SN to rescue them.  His response, “You know you broke the rule about going up there.  I’m not going to rescue you.  Pray, work through your fear, and come down. NOW!”  For the remainder of their lives they will have this memory that with Jesus they can work through fear and accomplish the humanly unbelievable.
  • Taught to use governmental and community resources when it does not compromise teaching about Jesus.
    • Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Carpenters, Police, Counselors, Banks, Social Workers, Educators, Trade Trainers, Job Banks, Food Banks, etc.
  • Taught to look out into the future, seeking God’s vision of who each child can become.  Proverbs 22:6
  • Taught the importance of pain in the child’s life; committing to evaluate pros and cons of what one tries to “fix” in a child’s life.
  • Taught that in the presentation of the gospel, SN does not promise that coming to Jesus will take pain away.
  • Taught to regularly evaluate ministry.
  • Taught to handle issues of child abuse.
  • Taught how to come along side the child’s primary-nurturer
    • To become Primary Nurturer’s best friend.
    • How to watch for indicators of need for each family
    • How to assess which families will benefit from intervention
    • How to create a team of “Service Partners” for each family

Long term involvement with children.

  • At-risk kids experience abandonment in their young lives.  To a child, when a SN abandons her, it feels like Jesus has abandoned her.
  • Be at the after-school center every day it is open (we suggest three days per week).
  • Flow the Biblical concept through all elements of the Center: Life Skills, Tutoring, Recreation, The Arts, Read Alouds, Snack Time.
    • Kids learn truth is not just for one hour a week; truth can be applied in all areas of life.
  • Be in the home of each child a minimum of once a month.
    • One SN reported how the mother was at first nervous when she visited. Now the mother isn’t bothered when the house is dirty.  The SN is treated like a member of the family.  Kids are ecstatic when they know she is visiting.
  • Be in the school at least once a month.
    • For the sake of the kids it is important to have continuity.  By working with the teachers, and supporting them, continuity happens.  One SN was called by the principal and asked to meet with him and the teacher.  When she arrived at the office, also present was the school counselor, the vice-principal and the district supervisor.  The SN panicked she had done something wrong.  The first question: Why she would spend so much time with one child; she responded, “Because Jesus loves us as individuals and this one child is worth my time.”
  • Get to know all Social Service Professionals (SSP) involved in each kid’s life.
    • SSPs have the power to move kids in and out of homes; they have the power to make decisions that affect a child’s entire life.  By building relationships with the SSPs the SN is given the opportunity to assist in the making of those decisions.
  • Intentional ministry with each child – has written plans.
    • Prayer Plan – gathers a group of serious believers who pray for child.  Has a plan for child to connect with these “warriors,” for the child to pray for them as well. James 5:16
    • Discipleship Plan includes: set times for visiting home, school, as well as  contacting Social Service Professionals, attending child’s school and sport events, shopping together, grocery/clothes/household items,  interactions with SN’s family, college visits, goals to fold child into a local church, all important dates in kid’s life written down – birthday, father’s incarceration, parent’s divorce, day family abandoned child, etc., goals to assist child in developing a healthy work ethic;
    • Academic Plan – in what areas does child need tutoring?
    • Anger Management Plan – as needed.
    • Behavior Contract – as needed.
    • Life Plan – children who grow up in middle/upper class families have a plan/vision for their future.  Vision for children of poverty goes as far as the next meal.  Empower Primary Nurturers to have a life plan/vision for their children.  Challenge kids to envision who they will be (mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually) when they are 30.
    • Family Plan – what needs are there in the child’s family?  Employment, housing, health, legal, etc..  Develop a plan using Service Partners which will lead to  family self-sufficiency and community empowerment.
  • Be real with kids; personal vulnerability and life struggles builds trust.
    • The kids grew distant from Mark.  He was ready to give up; was the struggle really worth it?  Then his director suggested that he share with the kids the pain of divorce he was experiencing.  The next time they met, Mark sat his group on the floor to tell them he had prayer needs.  He then shared his pain.  With tears streaming down his face, he told them how he wouldn’t be able to survive if it wasn’t for the strength and encouragement Jesus gave him.  One by one the kids opened up and shared their own deep pain.  The kids were no longer distant.
    • Kids need to know that the SN has pain also.
    • Kids need to see the truth of the Bible lived out through the SN – this incarnates the Bible, making it relevant for each kid.
    • Work with no more than five kids at a time.  Each one will receive the attention s/he needs and deserves.


What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers


8 responses to “After School Programs: Church Based – At-Risk Kids Need Secondary Nurturers

  1. Pingback: After School Programs: Church Based – What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers | KidTrek – After School Programs

  2. Pingback: What At Risk Kids Need For Lasting Change « Ministry To Children Forums

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  4. Pingback: Church Based After School Programs: The Fight For The Invisible Children Of America | KidTrek – After School Programs

  5. Pingback: Christian After School Ministries – Social Support System | KidTrek – After School Programs

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  7. Pingback: Church Based After School Ministry: Walking Through Life with Parents | KidTrek – After School Programs

  8. Pingback: Church Based After School: Why Do It? | KidTrek – After School Programs

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