In my last post, I said it would be the final edition of my thoughts on Children's Ministry. Thank you to all who have heard the discouragement in my words and have written to encourage me. You are precious people! That post will be the final edition in this blog about children for awhile because I currently have no contact with children and have nothing to draw from to share with you. However, if you are willing to bear with me, I'd like to turn my attention to sharing vignettes from the journey I'm currently on.
We tend to couple creditability with success. You aren't worthy to write a book unless you're an expert on the subject, unless you have a success story to tell of how the principles you are promoting have worked for you. We look in envy at church programs that attract dozens of kids; those are the "successful" programs. A few years back, our national church convention provided a number of workshops that started with "How our church broke the (fill in the number: 200, 500, 1000) barrier." I talked to a number of people that, like me and my husband, were heartsick. We were floundering in our ministries. We had tried all the formulas. We had seen the heartache, the defeat, the brokenness, the struggle. We felt inferior and intimidated. I so want to write a book on "the inner qualities of leadership" but because I don't have a platform or a resume that lists lines of credentials and success stories, I have an idea no publisher would want to give me the time of day. The world - and too often, the Christian world, wants success stories.
Blogs, websites and books abound on how to make your good children's program better. Printed and digital media give us the impression that "I must be the only one" who oversees a shriveling program. Yet I have a hunch that a significant minority exists out there of those who have encountered broken programs, struggling workers, defeated parents, disillusioned teachers, all wondering why God would allow their program to go down the hole, why the Lord of the harvest hasn't answered their pleas for more workers, why God let a child slip away from the inviting arms of the Savior. Perhaps we need to hear more of the wisdom of those who don't have the numbers to stand behind but have prevailed through the struggle.
I don't have any answers on how to make your children's ministry grow; in fact, I'm asking those hard questions myself The only answer I have today is a series of questions God seems to be asking me. In spite of the way our children's ministry looks, will I still be faithful to Him? Not necessarily to a program, but to Him. Will I still worship Him as great and good, a God whose loving-kindness endures forever? Will I still trust Him that He has a plan? Do I believe that He and only He can bring about change? Am I willing to wait, to be patient even though that change may take years and I may never actually see the change take place? Do I believe that God can work all things for good according to His purposes - that God can possibly bring good to a church who has no children running through the halls?
If I am going to be authentic in this column, I must tell you that my answer lies in the words of the father who witnessed the debilitating results of a demon residing within his son when Jesus reminded him that everything is possible for him who believes. (Mk 9:14-29).
"I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief."
May the Lord give each of us the grace we need to carry us through the seemingly impossible situations we face.