“Why do you have so many bumps on your face? It looks bad.” Kids are notorious for saying what comes to their mind. With an undeveloped filter, we can be left humbled by the honesty and bluntness of their words.
“Why, yes, sweet child of my womb, that is adult acne on my face and yes, it looks bad.”
This actual statement from one of my children is just one of many humbling statements that push me to find grace from God.
This morning, my daughter’s words were painful.
“I just don’t see the point in going to Church and hearing the same stories I already know. I don’t learn anything.”
Ugh. Stomach punch to the Children’s Deacon.
My first internal response was to feel like I’ve missed the mark as a leader in our children’s ministry. I jumped to question where we were failing to create a ministry our children enjoy. I want them to want to go to church. Shouldn’t it be fun to go to Church?
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can move us beyond our first thought and speak some truth into our minds and hearts. I continued to ponder her question for the rest of the morning. Is there some perspective to her question that reveals an honest feeling and desire we adults have as well? Why do we belong to a Church? Why do we leave Churches? What do we look for in Churches?
If I strip down my daughter’s words I can hear this question from her heart, “What is the point of going on Sunday morning if I don’t receive anything out of it?” “What is in it for me?” There, in her exposed heart, I hear my own sin too. How often do I approach Church (the Body of Believers) as a consumer, looking to find where I can be filled, how I can be served or how I can feel good? How often do I harbor disappointment when my desires are not met when,
in reality, only God can meet those desires.
Do not hear me say that Sunday mornings shouldn’t be enjoyable or fun for our kids. We make many choices on Sunday morning to encourage a fun atmosphere. But Church is different than Netflix. If, as a children’s ministry, all we’ve done is entertain our kids and throw a Jesus stamp on it, we are failing to prepare them to actually follow Jesus in life.
Following Jesus is not always fun. There are times our hearts want to ask, “What is in this for me?”
For example, at the moment, I am having to walk in a relationship that is very difficult. I am affected by this individual’s selfishness and hurt by their lack of boundaries. There is nothing in it for me. Yet, God has placed this relationship in my life and, though I may want to, I cannot run from it. Following Jesus means to continue to love the unlovable and consider how I may choose to still be a blessing to them. Following Jesus means I am offered the opportunity not to see relationships in my life through the lens of what they can do for me.
Maybe being part of a Church is where we get to practice this.
Disappointment can expose a desire in our hearts to be filled with something other than Jesus. Maybe it can be a good thing to be disappointed with your Church.
What if an unmet expectation on Sunday morning meant an opportunity for my heart to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for meeting all my needs and I follow you to corporate worship even if I am disappointed.”
What if a hurt from a brother or sister in our MC meant an opportunity for my heart to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect friend and I follow you into relationship even if I am disappointed.” What if its not about me?
I want my daughter to follow Jesus more than anything. With the perspective God gave me this morning, I realize don’t have to be fearful or threatened by her dislike of Sunday mornings. If my kids groan about going to Church on Sunday morning it could be because being a part of a Church is more difficult than turning on the TV.
Following Jesus is not the same thing as being entertained by Jesus.
As we approach Family Sunday, we might catch our hearts doing their own groaning. Family Sundays are harder. It is much easier to sit and receive on a Sunday morning than to serve and show hospitality to our kids. I am not immune to it either. May God help our perspective and give us hearts that resist being consumers. May we depend on God, the only one that does not disappoint, as we follow Jesus together.
~Kim Janous lives in Issaquah with her husband and three kids. She serves Soma Eastside as a Deacons of Children's Ministry.