When I was a little girl, I remember going to lots of Bible schools every summer.
I didn’t really like going to VBS because I felt awkward. We weren’t regulars at these churches and often I didn’t go to school with the kids who were there because we moved around a lot. I also didn’t know all that much about the Bible.
But I do remember how nice the leaders were. I remember how they made me feel comfortable and how they tried to help me learn a little more about the Bible.
I remember seeing the work these ladies put into the songs, the stories, the crafts and the skits. I could see the effort and joy they had for serving children.
I wanted to be one of these ladies when I became a mother. I wanted to prepare the crafts and snacks and to teach kids about the Bible.
I wanted to serve in this area to ensure my kids had a Biblical foundation. The little Sunday School I got stuck with me. I wanted to do it right because that’s where I thought kids get the most exposure to God’s word.
But after serving in children’s ministry for five years, I’ve learned a few things that didn’t meet up with the expectations I set out for myself early in my journey as a mother.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37 now makes a lot of sense to me.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The people who serve in children’s ministry are often the only Bible teachers a child ever has.
When I started working in children’s ministry, I envisioned parents eager to know what their children were learning. I envisioned parents wanting to know what to work on at home.
This next statement may step on a few toes, but I’ve seen it and lived it. I learned quickly that few parents actually take any interest in what their children are learning at church.
I know this to be true because I’ve been one of these parents. I was this parent when I was going through the newborn stage. I am often this parent when I get sidetracked with toddlers or a conversation.
There are weeks where the crafts get tossed and the lessons never get looked at or reviewed. I get it because it’s hard to do all the things.
But I also know that the people who teach your children each week pour their hearts into teaching kids about the Bible. They seek these all-too-important discussions with them at those round tables every Sunday.
I also noticed that I often had to step away from teaching to work on a child’s heart. I spent many days just teaching kids the expectation of the classroom. I often left my room frustrated with my students because they just wanted to goof off and use ugly words.
I often wanted to send letters and emails and pull parents aside, but eventually I realized that I couldn’t do everything.
I realized the best thing I could do for them was show up each week with encouragement and love and prayer.
Despite all this discouragement, I did see seeds get planted in little hearts. And that’s all we’re required to do. Plant heart seeds. Water then with prayer. And have faith these seeds will burst into bloom one day.
I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about the Bible.
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain something to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
There is so much truth to those words. I can tell you that ever since I started reading a children’s Bible to my kids, I’m in awe of the truths I’ve missed in passages that I’ve studied dozens of times.
A good example is the story of the fall. If you’ve never read the account of it in The Jesus Storybook Bible, you need to put your hands on a copy of it. The beauty of the promise in that simple story changed my heart. It opened my eyes to real truth.
“God couldn’t let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him. There was only one way to protect them.” The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
That statement in that story taught me that God is always for me and not against me. What a blessing.
I really understand how children learn.
I’ve pretty much specialized in preschool all but one year of Sunday School. And I realized that not everyone wants to be in a room with 20 2-year-olds each Wednesday night.
These little room destroyers seemed very self-centered at first. But as the weeks stretched into months, I saw a little more maturity. They started singing the songs and saying the pledges. They started staying in their seats longer during the lesson and craft time.
And their sweet, innocent faces would light up with understanding when I asked them a question such as “Who made you?” They’d all try to talk over each other to be the one with the answer. I had one little boy who always liked to “help” with the lesson. They loved when I pretended to sleep. They got upset when I pretended to cry.
It’s not long before they want to go get into the toys, but it’s a start of something wonderful.
I’m blessed beyond measure for an hour and a half each week.
Wednesdays are hectic days in our house. Naps mess us up. Someone always needs to throw a fit right as we’re leaving.
But we make it almost every week. And I often pray silently in the car for peace in my heart before I walk into the church. The peace of prayer doesn’t always take root in my heart as we navigate the dinner line.
Feeding two toddlers and a bouncy big girl doesn’t always look beautiful. We usually forget to say the blessing. I’m usually shoveling food into my mouth and begging someone to eat something beside dessert.
Someone usually tells me I have my hands full. Someone usually gets a little frightened at how lackadaisical I am about kids standing in chairs. Someone almost always spills something.
But then we clear off the table and head downstairs. We drop off the younger toddler to a fountain of tears most nights. I’m usually begged by the older toddler to hold him and not leave.
But then we get to singing and playing and diaper changing. And I forget the stress I walked in with. I see those little lights shining. I see Matthew 19:14 coming to light.
Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.”
And while I know these children are getting a blessing from hearing the Word of God and being familiarized with the tenets of faith (God loves you. God made you. We should thank God.), I’m the one who is blessed. I get hugs and excitement and absolute faith right before my eyes.
And that my friends is the real blessing of working in children’s ministry. If you haven’t ever tried it, I encourage you to do so. You might just learn something.