Isn’t it amazing what we can learn from children? Often, with no prompting, they tell you how they really see things. And so often, their honesty contains real nuggets of truth.
That very thing happened recently with my niece.
We were traveling in a car, and if our travels are anything like yours, it’s a great time to “chat.” With my niece, all you have to do is ask a question. Then sit back and listen because you will learn many things!
My niece attends Awana, an experiential education program that helps churches teach children the Bible. As we traveled on our 45 minute drive, I asked her what she was learning in her Awana class.
She quickly began to tell me they were studying Moses. “What have you learned about Moses?” I asked. To which she began to tell me about how a “bad” guy was trying to kill all the little boys so his sister hid him in a basket on the river. We continued our chat during which she shared what Moses did when he “grew up and got a job” and led the children of Israel out of captivity.
I smiled in the front seat as she told the story in her words and from her understanding.
Then I asked her what she had learned about Jesus to which she replied, “We haven’t gotten to Him yet.”
As I drove, my first response was to chuckle as my niece relayed the week by week lessons she was learning. Moses was last week. Who knows, Joshua may be next week. Then at some point, the story of Jesus is on the calendar. But upon deeper reflection, her statement raised a greater question in my mind.
How many times is that statement true in our ministries? How often are we caught up in the activities of ministry that we lose sight of the real purpose of the ministry? Is Jesus always on our “lesson list?”
That question penetrates through our intentions, albeit good ones, to reach out to people who have never been introduced to real hope.
The old adages are true: people don’t care what you know until they know you care and your life is the only Bible some people will read.
In our ministries, are we intentionally and actively speaking about Jesus in all we do? Sadly, our activities calendar can sometimes capture our attention and slowly dilute the effectiveness of our real purpose.
This question applies beyond organized ministries as well. In my personal life ministry, how often is Jesus a part of my conversations? The power of Christ is active, living and dynamic. How often do I recognize His presence in a work meeting on Tuesday or an interaction with a co-worker on Thursday? And most importantly, am I sharing that with others?
So what can we learn? Here are three ideas to keep in mind as we think about who God may bring into our path:
1. For ministries, as we plan a social event, embed specific goals into the planning process to intentionally speak about Jesus. It’s beyond a decision time. Determine how to include Christ into the interaction of the event in a way that is unforced and relevant to those attending. For example, a children’s Halloween dress up event may include a time to talk about how God created you to be the character you are. You don’t need a costume or mask to be someone else because God was intentional in His plans for you. It’s not an over the top strategy but it keeps the message of Christ a part of an event as silly as costumes and candy.
2. For ministries who provide small group studies, help the leaders to find ways to answer the “so what” question at each gathering. Even through a topical discussion like stress, there is an opportunity to link practical strategies to reduce stress through our relationship with Christ. Group leaders must be focused on redirecting a small group back to how Christ makes the difference.
3. And personally, in our weekly calendar, how often do we ask the Lord at the beginning of our week to place people in our path we can share with. Each day should begin with an acknowledgment of who the day belongs to. It takes me eyes off the trap of believing my day is my own and giving it to the One who can truly make a day productive.
For me, I needed that subtle yet powerful reminder from my niece—through an innocent remark. God sometimes uses the most surprising methods to get my attention.
I look forward to the next chat with my niece and finding out what she is learning in Awana.