I apologize in advance if this comes across as bold, or judgmental, or out of line, but it is something I want to remember.
Today we went to a different church that we don't normally go to (that will remain un-named to protect the innocent who are going to do great things in the future here). And to put it bluntly, the children's ministry was the pits. My son was ushered into a 4's and 5's classroom where the Sunday school teacher welcomed him and me. She then showed me some bookmarks they were making and told me they were learning that Jesus was the "Good Shepherd." She said, "He probably won't get it, but it's okay." WHOA LADY. THAT WAS THE WRONG THING TO SAY. The person who's church I was attending made mention that I probably was offended that she insinuated that my child wasn't bright enough to "get" the story, but that wasn't it at all. This is what those 5 little words said to me,
"I am teaching the next generation of Christ followers, but I believe I am just a babysitter. I have been given no training, no tools, and no confidence that a 4 or 5 year old can grasp concepts about God's love for them or that this hour that I am spending with these little people is making an eternal difference in their lives."
Hang on... there's more.....
When service let out (which by the way service was GREAT) My husband went to go pick up the kids while I caught up with a friend for a second. As Justin walked down the hallway he heard Gabe say, "Dad! Wait!" Gabe was sitting on a chair outside the sanctuary by himself...with no grown ups around. He said he was looking for us and he had left the classroom. No one was looking for him. I'm not sure if they even knew he had gone. This made us frustrated with Gabe, (he got a talkin to afterwards) of course, but more so frustrated with the lack of security and organization of the leaders in the children's ministry!! What he had left the building and started walking down the street? What if someone had taken him? What the crap!?!?! We were both pretty hot.
Anyways.... there are good leaders at this church that are taking steps toward positive change in many areas of the church.
All this to say this.... because I'm not posting this to vent or rag on this particular church. I'm saying this to PRAISE THE LORD for our children's ministry at the church we attend. For the leaders who "get" that little people can TOTALLY understand God's love and share it with their family and friends even at such a young age. I have a new appreciation for the partnership with our children's ministry and a new found understanding for its importance in the early development of my kids understanding and desire to be a part of the "church" as an institution. I know when I leave him there he is surrounded by people who are praying for him, who are teaching him and reinforcing basic concepts about things like God made the world. God made me. God loves me. God wants me to tell others about Him. He is memorizing Scripture. He is starting a love relationship with his Saviour.
I am sincerely praying for children's ministries everywhere now. It is such an important place to serve, if not THE most important place to serve, if God places it upon your heart. Don't take it lightly. Even at 2, children can understand God's love.