I like to dress up for Lutheran schools week. My goal each year for this week is to dress up as much as possible. I am all about “going big or going home”. My favorite part is watching peoples reactions when I walk in the building. I know I look like a nut. I know I should probably never go out in public like this but I do. I do it all because I love to draw attention to myself….(ok that sounds really narcissistic when you write it that way but keep reading so you don’t think too poorly of me.)
The reason I dress this way is so you notice me. I want you to notice me SO THAT I can share with you this guy who has made me nuts. This guy who made me dress up in costumes, dye my hair pink and go all out for Lutheran Schools weeks each year. I want you to know this Jesus guy who ruined my life SO THAT I can no longer miss opportunities to share with you Jesus. The one who loved me so much He gave Himself for me. He loved me. This awkward kid who was not the coolest kid in the world. A guy who was bald and 26 and has very little filter when talking with others. A guy who is trying to follow Jesus.
So tomorrow or the next day when you see me walking around its ok to stare. I don’t mind if you laugh. I don’t mind much of anything. I just hope you know I really am not doing these crazy things for me. I am doing them SO THAT you might know Jesus and the joy he gives me every day. So lets all think about ways we can share Jesus and the joy we have in Him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
So I did a children’s message this past Sunday. I normally don’t do them in worship. In fact I try to avoid them. This past Sunday for a worship service in the park it made a lot of sense to do it. I think children’s messages have a place in worship services. I think we shouldn’t do them often. I think for many of us we do them because we think if we want to be family friendly we should do them. I think this is a mistake. Doing a children’s message doesn’t make one family friendly. It just can be a neat way to interact with kids in worship. And in a park setting it made a whole lot of sense to share Jesus with them in this way.
I think getting Kids involved in worship is important. I think we have a whole lot of others ways to do that in a regular worship service that are far better. I think we might be missing the point when we think we are family friendly by doing children’s messages. You see I think we need to think about children and families as often as possible throughout the whole service not just a three minute moment of cuteness. So here are some things I think we all should think about in worship to help make it more kid and family friendly. I think their are three things we should do to help kids participate more.
First, repetition in important. It allows kids who can’t read to participate. It could be through liturgy, lords prayer, contemporary worship songs that are simple, etc. repetition allows kids to know the words and participate.
Second we should allow kids who are squirmy to participate. Maybe do a confession that allows them to move around the room. Once I had kids bring a rock to the front of the room and drop it in a sand pit. We were confessing using John chapter 8 as our reference to scripture. Having them move and be involved is important for worship with children.
Third and probably the easiest way to share Jesus with kids in worship is to use pictures and visuals in worship. Stained glass was used to tell the story of Jesus. It still is today. You could use pictures and other visuals on screen or in the bulletin. Visuals give students something to see and focus on with the words. It helps the little ones see Jesus.
Let us all strive to share Jesus with the whole family of faith. Children’s messages can be good, but we have lots of other ways to be family friendly and share Jesus.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
We all have scars. I have a few from ministry. Some of those scars are seen and others are right in the middle of my face. But scars can be a good thing if they are done for the sake of the Gospel.
This past week we had an amazing VBS. We had more kids attend VBS this year than any of the past 5. We capped it off by collecting 545 items for food pantries in our area. This led to my most recent scar. I told the kids if they collected 500 canned goods I would jump into a pool of ice. It was going to be awesome. The kids were cheering, and excited when we brought them out to watch it. They were cheering me on. I thought the worst that could happen was get some bumps or bruises jumping into the kiddy pool. I leaped and was in the water. The pain wasn’t that bad but when I came out of the water I saw blood. My wife gave me the look that said “you did something very wrong to your face.” She grabbed my hat off my head and shoved it into my face so the children wouldn’t be further traumatized. It was not my best moment in ministry. Something that seemed so promising had gone so bad in a matter of seconds.
But I wouldn’t change a thing. I did get bandaged up and was able to walk back inside and share with kids I was alright and lead them in a prayer. One of the themes for the week was Jesus heals us and so I tied it all together. It turned into a good moment to share Jesus. I am someone who will jump in a pool of ice water if I think it will let me talk about Jesus with a kid. Heck the scar was a great story in the ER when I got my 11 stitches. I got to share Jesus with a doctor, nurse and three paper work people. I don’t mind the scars in ministry because another family, kid, student, adult or whoever got to hear the good news of Jesus. They got to see some crazy grown kid stand up and share Jesus. Who knows if they will ever be a believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit does that work anyway. I never even know if the scar is worth it.
I do know this however, I would take all the scars in the world if it meant one more kid or family might know Jesus. So for all of you in ministry, either volunteer or paid professional lets make more scars so others can know this Jesus who loves and cares for us. Lets tell the world even if it means some pain and scars.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:8 ESV