Helping Kids Become Peacemakers

Nov 7, 2023 9:00:00 AM / by Jessica Davis

"Carelessly they treated the wound of my people, saying ‘Peace, Peace,’ when there is no peace!"

(Jeremiah 6:14, Inclusive Bible) 

In a moment where there are more than 25 wars and occupations around the globe, including one in the Holy Land where thousands of children have died so far, it is inevitable that the young people in our congregations are wanting to know what they can do to build a better, more peaceful future. First and foremost in equipping our young people to be peacemakers is coming to an agreement on what exactly the term “peace” means. For followers of Jesus, peace is not simply an absence of conflict, but rather, a dynamic, active state of being that involves speaking the truth to power, fighting for the well-being of those the world casts aside, and actively turning from evil. As challenging as it might be for us adults, if we wish to equip our young people to work for true peace, we must learn to speak hard truths and publicly discuss the things that make us most uncomfortable, rather than seeking the politeness that so often masquerades as peace in our church spaces.

Also crucial in educating our children how to be peacemakers is giving them tools to cultivate peace within themselves. Our culture is one of constant stress, constant insistence on packing more into a day, constant stimulation, and very little time for rest, contemplation, identifying and processing emotions, or listening intently for God’s voice. All of these are necessary for children to be able to cultivate an internal peace.

Lastly, in our work to equip young people to build peace in our world at large, we must equip and trust them to do so in their own contexts. That requires a willingness to take their conflicts seriously. While a fight over a favorite toy or seat on the bus might not seem significant to us, for the children in our midst, it is a very big deal to them, one that can ruin their day, ruin their sleep, even ruin friendships. When we understand how significant their conflicts are, it becomes clearer how crucial it is to give them tools to fix them. The following are a suggested set of steps to provide for children in examining and resolving conflicts:

  • Assist children in identifying feelings and how those feelings show up in their bodies.
  • Provide space to physically engage those feelings (physical exercise, hugs, meditation, etc.).
  • Evaluate the scenario for power differentials.
  • Identify needs vs wants.
  • Make a list of possible solutions.
  • Pray for one another and for assistance in choosing a way forward.
  • Examine the list of possible solutions created previously and talk each one through for if/how it connects them with God’s will for creation.

When we take young people’s lives seriously, lead by example, surround them with prayer, and anchor them in scripture, they will be equipped to live into God’s promise of a world in which

"Love and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have kissed each other. Fidelity will sprout from the earth and justice will lean down from heaven. YHWH will give us what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.

Justice will march before you, YHWH, and peace will prepare the way for your steps."

(Psalm 85:10-13, Inclusive Bible)

Topics: Children Ministry, Youth Ministry, children, Peace

Jessica Davis

Written by Jessica Davis

Jessica Davis, MA is a Christian educator, pastoral counselor, church consultant, organizer, and freelance writer and speaker living in the Philadelphia area. Their ministry passions include youth ministry, church music, community visioning, and education and advocacy re: diversity, equity, and inclusion. When not doing churchy things, they can usually be found knitting, volunteering with refugees and asylum-seekers, or working as a freelance makeup artist. You can connect with their work through Jessica Davis Church Consulting on Facebook.


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