Monday, July 14, 2008

Building Sunday School Attendance

I’d love to tell you that we had a mob of visitors at our church yesterday, that our Children’s department was overflowing with children. The truth is, our attendance was zero. There were no children in the preschool class. There were no children in the elementary age class. There were no children for Wee Worship or Junior Worship either.

We could account for most of the missing children. One child spends the summer with his dad in Florida. Another three were at a family reunion. Other children on the roster are infrequent at best and this just wasn’t their Sunday to be there. Yet I was discouraged and I saw discouragement etched on my teachers’ faces.

Yet two events came out of this that encouraged me. As our wee worship teacher told me of the lack of kids, I said to her, “We need to pray more fervently that the Lord will send children to us.” Her face brightened and she responded with a heartfelt, “Oh yes, exactly.” I was encouraged by her enthusiastic response to my suggestion. I want to follow up on that. I want to gather my teachers together for a prayer meeting where we will pray for the children in our congregation. If we had had children, I wouldn’t have thought of this idea – something that we need to be doing more anyway.

Second, a ten-year-old girl did come with her mother yesterday to church. She came because the mother was meeting with our elders to ask for benevolence. The elders asked me and my eighteen-year-old daughter to stay with the ten-year-old while they met with the mother. We had a fantastic visit with her. No we didn’t have an impromptu bible lesson. I didn’t read a bible story to her. We talked sudoku puzzles with her. We asked her about her. We built relationship with her and her mother. There’s a good chance the two of them will come back to church. There’s one student.

It reminded me that teaching happens outside as well as inside the classroom. It also reminded me that teaching is living the example of Jesus as much as it is talking about Jesus. We were teaching this girl that God cares about her family, that God’s spirit has been placed in people so they are able to be kind and generous like Jesus. We taught her that she is valuable and other people think she has unique gifts that God has given her.

I realized that I need to be ready to teach at any moment. I could have been in a bad mood all morning because we had no kids. Instead, the Lord taught me to look for the opportunities He has planned that may or may not be Inside the Classroom. I hope I did all that He called me to do and I pray He takes what I did do and magnifies it bring this girl and her mom closer to Himself.

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