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Communicating the Love of God

Over the past weeks, we’ve seen numerous Christian responses to the tragedies of September 11. Some of those responses were made off-the-cuff, so to speak, and caused controversy. The controversial statements were later retracted and/or restated as to their meaning and intent. Communication is an evasive art at times and it seems that no one person has ever mastered it. As a Children’s Minister, how can you be sure you are communicating the tender love of God to those precious ones in your care?

As I consider this, I think of the scripture in 2 Timothy 4:2 which says, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” As we consider this verse together, I believe that all of us will conclude that if careful instruction has ever been needed, it is needed today in times like these. There are questions we simply cannot answer and shouldn’t try. But there are needs that we can meet and must. The key word in this passage is prepared. Are you prepared?

Two years ago we were invited to co-speak for a Children’s Pastors’ Retreat along with a fairly well-known Children’s Pastor who had just moved to a church prior to a revival breaking out. Needless to say, I was eager to glean from his experience and hear what great things God was doing in the ministry at his church. The best way to describe his presentation is to say that it had a shotgun effect. The comments were good, but scattered in such a way that it was difficult to follow and some needed further explanation later as we had the opportunity to share dinner together. There was one remark that explained his strewn thoughts and it made me cringe when I heard it. According to his viewpoint, this individual has such a busy schedule that he doesn’t have the time to prepare the way most pastors would. Therefore, he relies on the Spirit to guide him on the spot when necessary, including each Sunday morning for service. His comment was that he’ll be on his way down the hall to the Children’s Church room without knowing what the lesson is on that day or what he should say when they begin in 15 minutes and suddenly he’ll see an object or hear a comment that sparks an idea. Though that has a spiritual sound to it, allow me to explain why that makes me cringe.

As you most likely realize, it takes God-given talent, ability, creativity and a certain kind of insight to effectively work with children. As I’ve traveled and met Children’s Pastors from many different denominations, one thing is obvious. God uses creative and talented individuals in Children’s Ministry. In fact, if you were to be asked to do a 5 to 10 minute presentation in the next half an hour for a group of children, you most likely would not find it hard to do. You’ve probably taught a lesson recently that you really enjoyed and are still gleaning the insights from today. It would be easy for you to get up and do an object lesson off-the-cuff, so to speak. Does that mean that what you are saying is what God is directing you to say at that moment? Are you relying on Him or your own creativity?

I should make it clear here that I realize that God has given you your abilities and creativity to carry out the tasks at hand and to use in situations like these. But let’s be real. God has also given you time to prepare so you can correct, rebuke, and encourage with “careful instruction.” If you were to just walk in on a Sunday morning for service without a clue as to what you were going to teach, would that be giving it your best? Remember these verses? – Eccl. 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Col. 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” 2 Cor. 13:11 “Aim for perfection.” God expects your best. He expects you to be prepared.

Have you ever heard the explanation along the lines of this? “Well, God knows what He wants to say then, so I go in and let Him speak through me.”

Yes, God does know what He wants said. He also knows who will be there. He does want to speak through us. But remember, He knows these things well before 20 minutes prior to service; He knew before the foundations of the earth! He desires you to give your best so you will have the strongest impact and most effective ministry on the souls He has entrusted to your care. And if we’ve ever needed it, we need it today!

Consider another verse. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In the Hebrew, ‘be still’ may also be translated as ‘let go.’ (FLSB p.806) Let go of the things that hold you back from knowing and experiencing that He is God! Let go of your reliance on your talents and abilities. Be still; experience God, hear from Him, and then prepare accordingly. God wants to move in your services. He wants to do so much more than any of us could ever do in a service. In order to experience His moving, we must ‘let go.’ Creative and talented people can pull off a service and have an incredible response. The enthusiasm and momentum can be outstanding while all is being carried out with ‘the best laid plans of mice and men.’ However, when you allow yourself to let go of your reliance on your talents and abilities, you find yourself humbled and desiring to be prepared. Prepared for His service to accomplish great and wonderful things.

Let me encourage you to prepare this week and know that He is God!

Rev. Gary R. Linn
Copyright Children’s Ministry Today

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