Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's Really Necessary

So I'm sitting here, typing one handed while holding a bobby pin with super glue on it, waiting for it to bond to a jack that's stuck in my head phone port. Yeah, it was one of those Sundays. Today was one of the few days of the year where we had several video clips to support the lesson. First the normal sound booth computer couldn't get on the internet. So I figured out how to hook my laptop up to the projector (patted myself on the back... I'm slowly becoming a sound booth pro). Then the input on the sound cord was partially broken. But if you jiggled it just right, the sound came through! Unfortunately, I wiggled it too much during one of the video clips. Thus my superglue situation. So between services, Tim (our media/technology guy) and I spend about 20 minutes setting up his laptop and then improvising--some cables were too short, one was super long, but the screen turned purple, and finally, we found a solution! We still had a couple of glitches during second service, but at least we always had sound!

I was introducing the slow worship song for the kids, and stopped to think about the words... "You're all I need, You're all I need, You're all I need, in this world." While working electronics are helpful, they aren't what I need. While a lack of stress would be nice, it isn't what I need. All I need on Sunday mornings, as well as any other day of the week, is Jesus.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Is This Thing On?

I feel like I've been going through the motions of Children's Ministries but not really feeling the heart behind it. Going into Easter weekend, my prayer was that it wouldn't be my biggest work weekend of the year, but instead, that I'd get to actually enjoy and feel that it was Easter. I had the joy of teaching the elementary kids Saturday night. I loved the way our curriculum wrote out the lesson. The kids were attentive, and I really felt like the message was communicated. After telling kids how they can accept Christ as their forever friend, I invited to the kids to come talk to me or another teacher afterwards if they wanted to know more about making that step. Later, two fifth grade girls approached me. "We want to do what you were talking about!" Both these girls have been at our church for quite some time. I was surprised they'd never asked Jesus in their hearts. So I verified that they hadn't done it before. "No, we haven't, that's why we want to now!" So I talked about what it meant, asked if they believed Jesus died for them, etc. and then lead them through the prayer. I was on the verge of tears at what a blessing this was! We chatted about how we're now sisters in Christ. I told them I was three when I first asked Jesus in my heart. One of them slipped and said, "So was I!"

Both the girls had accepted Christ before. One was even baptized. Why lie? Because they thought it would be fun to spend some one-on-one time with me. I love that they wanted that time... but really? Lie about asking Jesus in your heart?

Sunday went smoothly. I was disappointed by how many families weren't there because of Spring break. And while I loved being in "big church" for one service and watching a wonderful large group teacher during the other, I didn't really feel Easter.

But then, on Tuesday, I heard a wonderful story. One of our kindergarten boys comes from a sad home. His grandma loves him dearly and brings him each week to both services. I guess on the way home from church, he couldn't stop talking about the Easter story. He told his mom and grandma all about what Jesus did for him, how much Jesus loves him, and through the entire story, he was full of joy. Grandma said that they've been trying to get him to understand Christ's sacrifice, but it didn't click until this week. He's a changed person.

And yesterday, I got a sweet picture (the purple one in this post) from the mom of one of our 4-year-olds. Her daughter wanted to write out the Easter story. Mom helped spell the words, but Maile chose exactly what was said. If you can't read it, it says, "Do you know that Jesus was dead on the cross and 2 other cosses? Then Jesus was out of the cave and the big rock rolled away. Then Jesus visited His friends before He was in Heaven with God."

While I felt like Saturday and Sunday were spent tapping a microphone, asking, "Is this thing on?" Easter came on Tuesday and Thursday for me. Jesus died for my sins and rose again. It's the reason for all I do. An unresponsive audience doesn't change the story. He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Tip of the Sword

Our team spent last Friday in and out of workshops at the North West Christian Education Conference. (As a side note... it really made me look forward to the Promiseland conference!) One of the work shops I went to was on becoming a volunteer champion. Craig Miles, the speaker, made a great point about recruiting--we should recruit not because of a need, but because it gives people an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God. Give the people in your church the chance to say, "I teamed up with God today."
To help make his point on the importance of volunteers, he showed a clip from the movie, Pearl Harbor. A crew of soldiers was preparing for what, most likely, would be a fatal mission. Two of the soldiers were talking about why they're going, and one said, "We're the tip of the sword." The scene then cuts to the officers, one of which says something like, "We may not win this battle, but I know we'll win the war. Because there's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer."
God is the warrior, and the volunteers serving in our ministries are the tip of the sword. While yes, God's power is stronger than a volunteer, but what can be stronger than God using the heart of a volunteer? Hoping to express to our church that volunteers aren't there purely to fill a need, I asked some of our elementary leaders what satisfaction they get from serving. Their answers were wonderful (and you won't see that they only do it to fill a need). Here is some of what they wrote:
"I have seen God use me by being a familiar face—someone who is genuinely interested in the kids. They bless me MUCH more than I bless them. I get hugs, reminders of biblical principles, tugs at the heart when we sing, and I see kids of all ages standing and worshiping God without reservation."

“After trying various ‘jobs’ in Children’s Ministries, I finally found my gifting as a large group leader. God has taught me so much. I love connecting with the kids and teachers as we serve together. God gives us great moments when a child is touched by the Truth, or a teacher is convicted by something that is taught.”

“I was outside my comfort zone when I started teaching in Grow Zone, but God allowed me to be an effective leader from the start because the lessons were easy to teach—even for a simple person like me. God allowing me to play a part in a child’s spiritual growth is not only satisfying, but spiritually grows me as well. I’m closer to Christ because of it.”

“I did not feel capable when I first volunteered. I brought only my love for children and my love for our Lord. The possibility of making a difference in one life draws me back. Being recognized by the children and being their friend for that one hour each week is rewarding in and of itself.”

“I know I’m in the will of God, I’m serving His body, and that’s a joy. I’ve seen several from my first fifth grade class, now juniors in high school, come back and teach! More than ever, kids need God’s truth preparing them to be young men and women of God.”

Our volunteers are ordinary people being used for extraordinary purposes. I'm blessed to serve alongside them.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Touching Moment

We were short handed in Grow Zone tonight, so we decided not to do small groups. Instead, after the large group lesson, Jared (our Grow Zone Director) lead the kids through the questions from the stage. I was out of the room when they started this time. My return was met by 40 kids on and around the stage, crowded close to Jared. Never have I seen this many kids, in such a setting, so attentive. The large group actually became small. The older kids had their Bibles in hand and were looking up verses. The litter ones were watching the Bible search. I love how even when we are weak, short-handed vessels, God works.

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