A Gentle Rebuke

I’m wrong. Again.

We’re midway through our week of summer ministry for children, a 5 Day Club. It’s similar to Vacation Bible School, but less expensive, a good alternative for small churches.

Outwardly I’ve been on board with the planning since the beginning. Inwardly, I had some doubts. During the past year we lost two of our three families with children in this age group. The third family’s child is out of town visiting relatives this week. Therefore we had no children from our own congregation to form the nucleus of a children’s summer ministry in the community. None at all. Church consultants say it’s difficult, almost impossible, for a church without children to reach children. It would take a Herculean, laser-focused effort yielding a high quality program to attract them. That almost never happens in a small, rural church with mostly older people.

I wouldn’t say we’ve produced a high quality program in the eyes of church growth experts. But we do have a team of adults who love God and love kids. And it shows. So far, we’ve served ten children at 5 Day Club this week. We’ve played simple games and memorized Scripture and learned Bible lessons and heard a missionary story. Simple. Low tech. Barely organized. And God has showered us with his grace.

Each night I’ve felt God’s presence, even the first class with just four kids and nine adults. The second and third nights have attracted ten kids. I sense a gentle rebuke from the Lord as if he’s saying, “See, it’s not all about church growth principles. It’s about me. I can work in any way I choose to work and through whom I choose to work.”

A few minutes ago I talked to a neighbor who said their kids would be there, except it’s the same time as swimming lessons. I didn’t even know the swimming lessons were going on at the same time. (Hey, we don’t have kids in the church.) Yet God has blessed our children’s ministry. I can see the spiritual hunger in ten children’s faces. They’re soaking up God’s word and his love.

I wish I could say this is the first time I’ve been wrong about this. It’s not. Two years ago we did a week of children’s ministry in nearby Hazel Run, population 63. In the beginning I expected it to be a waste of time. I was wrong. There were only eight kids that week. But it was probably the most joyful, spiritually productive week of summer children’s ministry I’ve ever seen. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The point is I thought it was a waste of time. I entered that week of ministry with low expectations. I was wrong then. Now I’m wrong again.

Praise God!