stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

Archive for January, 2012

at my dad’s church

I’ll be upfront with you right away.  I’m about to brag on my children’s ministry volunteers.  Why?  Well, I can, and because they are worth bragging about.

Recently, a guy from church wanted to share the story of his son’s baptism with me.  He was baptized at his mom’s church, because that’s what his mom wanted, and as a young man, he kind of liked the whole production value of this church’s baptisms.  The church records interviews with those that are to be baptized and have them explain what brought them to that decision.  I’m not knocking the idea.  I think it’s great.  But when they asked this young man how he came to accept Jesus, he began his answer with, “Well, at my dad’s church…”  Most subsequent answers started the same way.  They tried wording questions differently to get a more usable answer from him, but that’s what they kept getting.  The day he was baptized, the video was shown, and not knowing differently, the lead pastor said, “When he says, ‘my dad’s church,’ he’s talking about this church.’”  Of course, he wasn’t, but I really don’t think the pastor knew that.

This young man goes to our church every other week.  He has come up through the ranks, if you will.  Our toddler and preschool teachers had him for four years.  He’s been in our elementary ministry for about four more years.  When asked what brought him to wanting to accept Jesus as Savior, his answer was, “at my dad’s church…”  Why?  Because at his dad’s church, he’s taught the Bible faithfully by faithful volunteers.  Years before I ever came here, this was run solely by volunteers.  Many of those volunteers are still here, still serving, still giving what they’ve got, so that boys and girls can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes working silently in children’s ministry can feel like behind the scenes work, but there is reward.  There are kids who come to know Jesus through their work.  I love my volunteers.  I’m proud to be associated with them.  These volunteers make my job doable, they make my job desirable, and most importantly, they make an impact on the lives of children that will last for an eternity.

kids say the most spiritual things

I love being a children’s pastor.  I’m not sure how good I am at it.  I marvel at some of the children’s pastors that I follow.  I have no idea how they can be so organized, driven, and good at this when I often feel like I’m getting by.  But even getting by, I love what I do.  Part of the reason I love it is because I get to hear what kids are saying.  I know a lot more about the parents in this church than they think I know, because kids don’t have a filter.  A story about Christmas morning can really turn into a story about anything.  I sometimes wonder how some of the parents would react if I ever told them what their kids tell me.  The good thing for them is that I hear a lot, and I don’t remember whose story goes with what kid and parent.

Kids don’t just rat out their families.  They say some pretty outstanding things.  I assume we’re all familiar with “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” between one of its runs, but it’s not just the darndest things they say.  They also say some of the most spiritual things.

Sunday morning, I was teaching the elementary kids about why Jesus was referred to as the Lamb of God.  So I talked a little bit about Old Testament sacrifice (without getting graphic).  I talked about our need for a greater sacrifice, and how God provided that through Jesus.  I told them that God must love us so much to give us a gift like that.  Then a kid raised his hand.  Now, I know not to call on this kid.  It’s a standard rule of mine, because the answer always deviates to vampires, werewolves, fights, and video games.  No matter what I’m asking, he circles back to his staples, and it scares some of the younger kids.  So I generally make him wait and tell me after I’m done teaching.  In fact, I try to only call on kids when I’m asking a question that needs answering, because otherwise, I have no idea where it’s going, especially with this kid.  But there was something in his face, so I did call on him, and I’m glad he did.  Here’s what he said:

“My dad says that he thinks God hates him.  I told him that’s not true, but he keeps saying it.  I think he thinks that, because he and my mom are divorced, but I know God loves him.  I tell my dad that. He always says that God must hate him, because bad stuff keeps happening, but I told him that just because bad things happen doesn’t mean God doesn’t love him.  It’s just that sometimes we make bad mistakes, and then things happen.  It’s not God’s fault.  He still loves us.”

I feel like I should tell you that this little guy did not grow up in church, and he’s only been attending church for a few months. I think he’s getting it, though.  On a separate note, another little boy asked me on Sunday why we have to give money in the offering, when in the Old Testament, they gave animals.  I tried to quickly explain the difference in our economies.  Kids say the most spiritual things.  Pastors get suckered into giving lame answers that none of the kids care about.

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