Sunday, October 4, 2009

Children's Ministry Demands Authenticity

“No man can give the impression that he himself
is clever and that Christ is mighty to save.”
James Denney

My eloquence doesn’t amaze the Beauty Hunters Band.

I’m finding the work of teaching little ones far more challenging than I’d expected. I’ve run in fear from children’s ministry all my life because I didn’t think my patience was up to the challenge of training them to sit still, to obey, to pay attention, to learn. Behavioral stuff.

What I didn’t anticipate was the demanding work that it would be to communicate great big truths to really little people.

It is not that they cannot understand.

Jesus said,

“Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

And again,

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ESV

The temptation I faced Wednesday night was to teach Noah’s ark as an exciting story of an obedient man, a big boat, a cool animal parade, and a happily ever after ending complete with a rainbow.

But what of the heart of that story as the foreshadowing of the wonder of Almighty God’s merciful hand offering to us, through the door of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the most gracious rescue from judgment the world has ever known? A rescue that makes Noah's big boat floating high above mountians seem minor.

How do I break that down for a 3 year old? Or even the "big kids" that have graduated to 4?

I didn’t do so hot Wednesday night. I wasn’t prepared enough. I hadn’t studied hard enough. I had not prayed and waited on the Lord for direction. My lack of ability to communicate to those little ones pointed directly back to my own incomplete understanding Noah's story. I realized, even as I was dramatizing the event for the children, that in order to communicate in a way that they could understand the story first had to be woven into the very fabric of my soul.

Three points, a poem and a great conclusion are totally lost on this crowd. (Maybe they are lost on adults too and this is why God has me in this training camp – but that’s another story…) Kids interrupt. They ask questions. They run down hilarious rabbit trails. They try to get up and play with toys. How to draw them back? How to let their heart-eyes see? Their heart-ears hear? How to go with the flow and incorporate their thoughts and questions, maintain some sense of order and still draw them to the heart of Jesus?


But God.

His Spirit dwells within His servants. Me. He is the one that must first draw my heart to His. Change it. Make the story live in me! Only as the truths of the story have changed my heart will they flow from my lips as a means of wooing grace to these little ones so precious in His sight.

O Lord, the wonder of your ways!
From the lips of little ones
You have ordained praise.

God, how grateful I am that Your work in their lives is not dependent on me ~ but Oh that you would see fit to use me as a lens through which they see You.


  1. And I was so there three years ago. It takes a special skill to communicate on their level. Honestly, I think they learn better at times when their little hands are kept busy. I know that my Little Guy is like that. If his hands are busy his ears are listening.


  2. Teren...just found are you? I so needed to hear that someone else was struggling with preschoolers too this week. Funny how God does these things, isn't it? Harry and I are back in the swing with AWANA this year. Thinking I am totally out of my mind playing games twice on Wednesday nights with over 100 sparkies! No way I'd be trying to get Noah across! You go sister! I'll be praying for you if you will pray a little bit of patience into my soul for next week. Get them to sit and listen, maybe...but to run around a circle...HOW? Just how? Loving you sister and good to "hear your voice"! I'll be back. Wendy