12 Days Later
October 15, 2008
I cannot believe it’s been twelve days since my last post. What am I so busy doing that I can’t sit down and type out some thoughts and ideas?!
What’s been on my mind to write about/ explore for at least a week is this question: What does children’s ministry require? I recently started leading a small group of 1st and 2nd grade girls at our church’s Wednesday Night Club program. I show up, sing songs with 55 or so girls, hear a story and lesson, then take my small group (the Panda Bears) into a partitioned-off section of the room, where we do a craft, talk about the lesson, and maybe have a snack.
What does ministering to children require? I was a Christian Education major at Wheaton College. I remember talking about this and reading books about it – and I remember there are some different viewpoints, and you have to take into account the developmental process of human growth, and obviously church tradition factors into the equation. The Episcopals and Catholics learn a catechism. Evangelicals seem to really want to make sure each child has “asked Jesus into his/her heart.” What is my role, in the 75 minutes a week I spend with these little girls? To pound Scripture verses into their minds? To draw them into a deep conversation about “spiritual” things? To try to focus their highly distracted minds to draw practical applications to what we learned about in the Bible Story? So far my inclination is to just love on these little girls, to open my heart to caring for them, to try to get to know them in our limited time, draw them out, make them feel special. I’ve been surprised by the amount of tenderness I feel for these little girls I barely know. I’ve been surprised by some of them, with the way they seem truly happy to see me, try to sit next to me and hold my hand and put their red and white “beanie caps” on my head. (They get a beanie cap when they come a few times and memorize our theme verse. Then they get to add patches to them as they memorize more and more verses.) I guess I would describe my general philosophy as “trying to show them, through my love, that God is good.” I want them to associate church with a place of safety and acceptance, a place that feels like home.
I wonder about my own children’s religious education. They love God, and pray and talk to Jesus, and we try to integrate our faith and life as well as we can. Are we doing enough? Are we intentional enough? Can anyone really fathom the soul’s response to the things of God? How do other people influence that? Are there systems and formulas that work? I think it must be a mixture of those things, and also an acknowlegement that only God Himself comprehends the mystery of how a human heart responds to Him. So I will ask Him for help, and do what I can, and try to utilize the ideas of Christian Education or the more “numinous” term – Spiritual Formation.
And while I work it out and wonder and pray, I will try to show them through my life that God is good and we can trust Him.