Monday, I answered the phone here in the office at church and was pleased to hear the voice of an old friend. This gentleman and his wife and daughters attended our church serveral years ago. We caught up details of each other’s family and he shared the reason for his call. At the end of the conversation, I told him to hug his wife and kids for me, “if the girls even remember me.” (They were 1 and 3 when they left here.) He said, “They sure do! Everytime we go past there they say, ‘There is Miss Shelly’s church!'”
It was such an encouragement to me to hear that I had made a difference in their lives–so much that they still talked of me four years later!
Today I am reading from Craig Jutila’s book The Growing Leader: Healthy Essentials for Children’s Ministry. The intro to Chapter 2 made me stop in my tracks and blog. (it’s been awhile!)
I was walking around our children’s building just before the 9:45AM service when I noticed several lines of people waiting to get into various classrooms. What a slow check in, I thought. I began talking to parents in the first line, apologizing for the wait and asking them to consider attending the 8:00AM service where the attendance is a bit smaller. Without exception, I was told in no uncertain terms that “my child wants to see Mr. Chuck!”
I went to the next line, where eight kids patiently stood with their parents. I offered the same option. Again, without exception, the response from each parent went something like this: “I’d go to another service, but my child won’t let me do it. She really wants to see Ms. Shelly” (the name is a coincidence–it was not me.)
What’s the appeal? Why would kids wait in line to see their leaders?…Why? Because kids don’t come back for what you teach; they come back, long term, for who you are. And who you are is what teaches.
Please understand, it took us three years to encourage our leaders who serve on the weekends (and who served every other weekend, or once a month, or twice a year…) to serve every weekend. Now, we have children lined up to see their favorite teacher.
Craig goes on to talk about how teachers who are commited to every week engage with the kids on an emotional level that opens the doorway to learning Biblical lessons. I agree!!
If I think back to my childhood, I remember faithful teachers who taught week after week. I remember teachers that not only taught me until I was promoted out of their class, but stayed with that grade level through my younger siblings. All four of us can remember Ms. Rita and her love for us. I remember nursery workers who let me help in the nursery when I was a teenager and cared for my babies years later and camp counselors who were there when I was a camper and were still there when my kids went to camp. There’s something solid and stable about that!
We live in a world where a lot of kids are missing stability in their home lives. So many of them have fathers or “mom’s boyfriends” who have walked out of their lives. Even siblings are breaking ties and heading out on their own. Even the strongest, most stable families can benefit from one more person who loves and supports them on a long term basis.
I want to encourage each of my children’s workers in any of our Kidzone classes to consider taking your commitment a step deeper. What if kids were lining up to join your class? What if moms on the playground told other moms about how great you are? What if twenty years from now grown students still remember your name? Wouldn’t that feel great? It would, but it’s not the reason to commit to these kids. We commit to these kids because God loves them and He desires that they feel that love through a church who loves them and teaches them about Him, His Son, and His Word. Will you be that person? Will you be the vessel of His love? It’s such a high calling!! The reward is out of this world!! Are you willing?