I struggle each week when I am scheduled to do the children’s sermon. While I enjoy doing them, I am constantly questioning what they are for and am cautious about the real purpose behind each message. For some kids, the idea of sitting up front on the stage can be exciting, for others it can be terrifying. It can easily turn into a “show” for the adults in the congregation to see all the cute kids coming up front. Often times they are used as subtle messages to the adults disguised as a messages especially for the children.
My ultimate goal is to make it a time where kids know they have a place in the worshipping body, and that they are loved and cared for in that place. I also want them to hear the language of the faith and keep their focus on God in our place of worship.
This week I strayed from my goal, and turned the message into a subtle message for the adults. Our Senior Pastor is retiring at the end of the month and I wanted to send him off with a gift from the children. There were several children who participated in the gift by writing advice for him for his retirement or reflecting on something he taught them about God, coupled with a picture. They were all compiled to make a book.
I wanted the congregation to see what the kids wrote and the kids to be present when the Pastor received the gift. So I had slides of various submissions up on the screen to share with the congregation some advice the children gave. I wrestled with which ones to show. I wanted the congregation to see the heart and the humor in the book, but I didn’t want it to become a spectacle where kids were being laughed at, which so often happens. Though the laughing from the congregation generally comes from an overwhelming joy at seeing the children, and their innocent responses, when you are a child up on the stage, it can cause embarrassment and take away from my ultimate goal “allowing children to know they have a place.”
There was one in particular submission that I loved. The advice was “You should stay the night in the zoo.” I wanted people to hear that because of the imagination that comes from that sentence, but I didn’t want it to be a point of laughter and embarrassment. So I added to my children’s sermon a message to the adults about wisdom from children.
We often think of wisdom coming from older, wiser people, but our congregations could really benefit from listening to the wisdom of children more. I ultimately share dthe advice about staying in the zoo, because though that might not qualify as “wisdom” in many of our books, I think there is a lot of wisdom in the silly advice from kids. The wisdom is to dream big, use our imaginations, and not take life so seriously.