He's so proud of his addition and I am too. Now get this, I don't run math problems with the kids. I've done it before during potbless dinners or when I babysat during the Couple's Valetine's Dinner because they enjoy it for some reason (though not around this particular boy, he just started to learn Math), but I hardly ever do it because I don't like Math. It's embarrassingly funny when the older kids are doing multiplication tables and I can't remember 7x8.
Anyway...I've discovered that with kids, math problems are indications of your maturity level. The harder the math you can solve, the older and better and smarter and more accomplished you are. They get competitive too. It's kinda funny and endearing.
In our children's ministry, we have Graduation Tests, indications of the children's maturity level and tangible evidence they are ready to move up a class level. But that's superficial in a way because the more Bible verses you can remember does not mean the older, better, smarter, and more accomplished Christian you are.
These tests simply show us if the kids can handle more challenging lessons and activities. They also show us their hearts. The kids who jump into the process are usually the ones eager to learn. We've got 12-almost-13 year olds who are still in the Middlers Class (7-9 years) because they refuse to participate, refuse to learn, and refuse to do anything.
What do you do with these kids? Pray for them. That's all we can do. We've all got room to grow, that's for sure. But no lesson, curriculum, craft, game, or activity can change a person who doesn't want to change. Only God can change him/her.
We actually give them another option when they tell us they don't want to be in Sunday School. We tell them to talk to their parents. We offer to talk to their parents with them, but they ultimately have to do it. If they're old enough to decide not to participate and old enough to tell us they don't want to be there, then they are old enough to tell their parents the exact same thing. Other than this, we can only pray that God touches their hearts, and keep ours intact (it hurts, you know).
What happens when those 12-almost-13 year olds turn into teenagers? That's the million dollar question. Do we just say goodbye? Hope the youth group catches them? What message does that say to the other kids? Do they stay where they are until they're 18 and leave for college? Or until they consistently attend a cell group? I really don't know. Pray for me because I'm at a loss. If only the indications of spiritual maturity were as universal and concrete as Math, then maybe ministry can come with an answer sheet.