As many know, this Lent Monfort Heights United Methodist Church has committed to 40 days of praying for our children and the future of our childrens ministries. I’m proud of this church for taking time out to seek God’s guidance and I’ve been seeking it whole-heartedly as well. What scares me is the huge chance of messing up and I’m sure that’s what is on everyone else’s mind too.
Here’s some things I know for sure that I want for our children:
– I want them to know they are loved.
– I want them to know God as ultimate authority.
– I want them to grow up and feel a part of the church, not that they get to be a part of the church when they grow up.
These seem like simple things, but they’re gigantic things because so much rests on what we provide them here.
I want them to know they are loved, not only by me but by the God who created them and sent his only Son to be crucified for them.
I want them to know God has ultimate authority, because I dread the day that I, one of our children’s volunteers, and even their parents let them down when they see God in us.
I want them to grow up and feel a part of the church, because I see them now and I believe God does too – their worth is not more when they can sit still and be quiet.
As these 40 days have started, I’ve been reflecting on the time I spend with the kids. There are days that their energy will drain me, and there are always times that I am up against some interesting challenges that no one saw coming to try and impress God into these kids.
And there are days like yesterday, where I know that what we’re doing for our children is not lost on them.
Yesterday I tried to talk to our children about Chaos, and the mess it creates in our lives. When I say mess, it’s clear that most of their minds went to an image of 1000 legos on the floor, not their exhausted mother driving for hours to pick up one child on the way to dropping another off all while hoping she makes it home in time for dinner to not delay bed-time. So when we got to our video about the peace we find in Jesus- I was pretty sure that the connection wasn’t going to be made today, and when that happens I have to guard my heart from feelings of failure.
Until the after video discussion resulted in this:
Child: “I have a question.”
Me: “Okay, what?”
Child: “So Jesus knew he was going to die, but like when did the people know he was going to die- Jesus told them?”
(Can we take a moment to celebrate that THIS is a question that proves the kids are listening and thinking about what we’re teaching!? Praise God!)
Me: “Well, yes – the people kind of wanted him to die because they thought he was lying about being God’s son. If he was telling the truth, he could have gotten God to save him, right?”
Child: “Umm, I guess – but wasn’t there that other guy on the cross next to him that asked for forgiveness”
Me: “Yes, but why did Jesus actually die on the cross?”
Child: “…..” “I know that soldier put a spear in him…”
Me: “Well, thats also true, but he died so that it could be proven that he could live a sinless human life, and in so doing, our sins are forgiven because only someone who was a very bad person, was crucified like that. He was good, so his death paid for the badness that is in us, since he didn’t have bad in him. That’s called “atonement.”
Child: (Beginning to be distracted) “Are we going downstairs for communion?”
We did go downstairs for communion, and I was excited to watch them as I had just explained and served them their own communion a few weeks back where they outraged when Dan “took a huge piece!” It gave me a chance to explain communion as “remembering Jesus, and when we take a big piece of bread, maybe we’re just saying we want A LOT of Jesus, instead of a tiny bit.” The first 2 kids took fistfuls at communion, and I was proud.
There’s value in taking a time out to teach kids on their level, I also think that there’s value in challenging them to worship among adults in spaces designed for adults. But I know that I wouldn’t have those reflections without our children’s ministries. Like our prayer says today, we’re building a legacy if we allow ourselves and I’m counting myself as honored to get to share it with them today.
Today’s prayer: “Holy, loving God, we pray to you about the ministry of education to children. We cry out in need for we are afraid that too many children, and now even a whole generation may not know your name. We seek to recognize that all of us (even I) have a bit of the story to share and that in sharing it we redeem it, make it come alive, and build it into a legacy.”