There are local churches ‘saving’ spaces for when we ‘get back to normal.’ This means, there are spaces unused and off-limits to ministry with children and families. If ever there was a time for territorial caution tape to be torn down, it’s now. It will require hard phone calls to church saints, awkward zoom meetings with trustees, and not everyone is up for the challenge. I want to encourage you to have these courageous conversations. The days of playing it safe and walking away from a table (or zoom meeting) content or settling for whatever you are given, are over.
Perhaps you were chosen for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) David Kinnaman of the Barna Group of researchers made the bold statement last week that one out of five churches will close in the next 18 months. Not one to jump down a hole of negativity, let me just proclaim in my loudest voice with a megaphone, for me and my church, “Not on my watch!”
There’s a great church whose reservations for their first Sunday in the building for the children’s services filled up in three hours. Three hours! All because the space the Children’s Ministry Lead was offered could only hold twelve kids. What happens to kids #13, #14, #15….#25? What happens to their family? What subtle, but very loud message is being conveyed? Loving families to Jesus doesn’t just happen in the Sanctuary. Faith formation is not just providing content and a distant sense of normalcy in a space that is not kid-friendly, but rather saying, “We stand with you, Mom, Dad!”
Several hours later, this warrior-for-kids texted me to share the senior pastor made those hard phone calls and the larger spaces will be available to kids the following week. She and I had prayed for that and God blessed it with a resounding, “Yes!” Maybe we should have prayed for more! Oh Lord, let us not be limited to what we can see. If Jesus came back tomorrow, would I stand before His precious face and say, “I tried, but they wouldn’t let me.” I just can’t!
Recently we enjoyed two infant baptisms at our outdoor, in-person worship service on the lawn. We said aloud, together, “With God’s help,” we will faithfully stand with these families to love their kids to Jesus with our lives. I gave party blowers to the siblings, the cousins, and the great-grandparents, because we stand in celebration for their legacies of faith. They can trust that I will speak up, wave the banner, and though I will submit to the authority over me, I will push the limits of what is comfortable to make sure kids hear other voices in their heads saying they are,“fearfully and wonderfully made.” I know this is your heart, as well.
Let’s be creative. Let’s be innovative. Let’s find out what it would take to get a YES and then work within those boundaries all the way to the margin. Andy Stanley shared at a Catalyst conference in 2017, “A single act of courage is often the catalyst for extraordinary.” We share the stories of courageous people with our kids all the time, but what about your story? Are you ready to be courageous?
Let’s give ‘em something to talk about!
Whatever you are facing, this may be your Esther moment, your Daniel moment. Put on the armor of an exile and I encourage you to prayerfully go with what you know and not with how you feel. I can’t imagine the anxiety Esther or Daniel must have felt, but whatever you are wrestling with to make more noise for your families will not get you killed. I am standing in the gap for you. Are you ready to step up, step out? Just don’t step aside! Don’t miss your shot (Hamilton!) You do know what hangs in the balance: Loving kids to Jesus!
“On the day I called, You answered me; You increased strength within me.” Psalm 138:3