Monday, January 20, 2014

Ministry Monday: That Was Supposed To Work

Chalk it up to experience, but I usually know what to expect from teens. This isn't to say that I'm never surprised by what they say or do, how they act or feel, but in a general way, I've learned (and re-learned) their culture. 

But my job isn't limited to simply working with teens. No, a few years ago my local church decided I would be a good fit to oversee working with jello. 

Yes, jello.

Jello is wiggly. It's hard to grab. It stains the carpet. It comes in all sort of flavors. Some of you might assume jello is a metaphor for working with the older ladies and helping them plan their mother/daughter teas or ensuring there are different types of salad at the next Missions Brunch. 

Nope, jello would refer to a much younger group. Kids. (Insert over-reacting woman's scream right here.) The horror. Perhaps this can be chalked up to my inexperience, but I feel lost with children in a ministry setting. They are a great mystery to me. When one of them, from age 3 through 6th grade walks up to me, I have no idea what they are going to say or do. I am clueless as to whether they are going to tell me a cute story or kick me in the groin. Even if they are mid-way through a story about their dog, I stand guarded.....just in case. 

You can't effectively lead a children's meeting if you are curled up on the ground in the fetal position. 

Here are a couple of examples of the mystery that is children. 

I once gave a little devotion during Big Church about how God uses angels to watch over us. One little boy raised his hand. Guarding my groin, I asked him what he wanted to share. He said, "I believe in angels....I also believe in leprechauns." 

Ah, lesson accomplished!

More recently I was teaching a group of children how God wants our attention. Following the curriculum, planned by people who have supposedly tried this at home, I tried the following exercise.

What was supposed to happen: Child A hold two pencils with arms outstretched. While closing one eye, Child A then attempts to make the pencils touch at the end. Understanding depth perception as you do, you would figure on them failing. 

What actually happened: Child A was unable to close just one eye. 

What was supposed to happen next: A second child would be called up. They would each close an eye and attempt to touch these pencils tips together. 

What actually happened next: Child A (a girl) and Child B (a boy) giggled about having to stand next to each other and sort of, barely touched the pencil tips together. 

The supposed conclusion: It should have been easier when two kids attempted this, thus solidifying the point that God wants us to work together and He often uses other people to get our attention. But these children failed both times and, when asked, said it was harder working together. 

Ah, lesson derailed!

Perhaps my lesson for working with children is two-fold. Always be ready to admit when an experiment doesn't work and teach them what I wanted to teach them anyway. And always protect my groin when they say they want to tell a story.

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