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Walking On Water and Other Feats

Tassie Green

In the seven years I've been a family pastor, we've covered the feeding of the 5,000 five times in vacation Bible school. Such good drama! Great special effects with a never-emptying basket of fish! But are drama and special effects really why the miraculous events of Jesus' life are included in the Bible? Are they set up to function as tall tales or even comic relief? Sadly, some in your church may think so. They may privately dismiss Bible "stories" as fairy tales meant for kids. Or maybe they've heard the same stories so many times they've become desensitized to their truth.

Do you ever worry that the children in your ministry view the miracles of Jesus' life as fiction, as merely good drama and special effects? Do you wonder if kids are truly inspired by Jesus' amazing life and sacrifice? If you do, take heart -- you're not alone.

But what does it take to grab a skeptic's attention -- whether adult or child -- and change a heart?

Well, that's fairly simple: It takes a children's minister who can walk on water, right alongside Jesus. It takes a children's minister whose biblical imagination is so fully developed that he or she believes without doubt that with God all things are possible. It takes a children's minister who lives by the certainty that miracles such as transforming lives or feeding 5,000 with a few fish and loaves truly are possible. It takes a children's minister who's eager to meet Jesus and to plunge into his miracles as if for the very first time each and every Sunday.

So...can you walk on water?

If you're nervously looking for your water wings, read on. We'll learn the basics of water-walking -- or reintroducing yourself to the wonder and glory of Jesus through the eyes and hearts of the children you serve.

Check Your Flotation Device

To understand Jesus, kids need to learn about the events that paint a full picture of him, a portrait of Jesus as fully human and fully divine. Having that full disclosure about our Savior gets their attention and shakes them up so they realize their faith in Jesus calls for them to do more than simply sit back and passively consume biblical information. Kids need the miraculous and the off-putting, the attractive and the controversial, the comforting and the unsettling elements of Jesus' life spooned out in age-appropriate doses.

As their teacher, mentor, leader, you're charged with the task of making certain your personal flotation device is fully inflated, properly positioned, and not losing air through leaks in need of repair. In a nutshell, to teach kids about the gospel, you must be full of it and leak-free. Read, re-read, and understand God's Word. Don't worry about memorizing facts or names; focus on learning the truths spelled out in the Bible. Learn about the Old Testament as it builds anticipation and the New Testament as it proclaims the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for us. Feed yourself on this knowledge, spend time with God to prevent leaks and repair old ones, and make sure you're living what you're teaching.

Deploy Your Biblical Imagination

To inspire and impart God's Word to kids, a biblical imagination is key. And I don't mean imagination in the sense of playing "let's pretend." I mean learning a true sense of hopeful expectation based on the details of the Bible's heroes, a sense that God acted in the past, that God saved his people again and again, that God sent Jesus to save us once and for all, that God will act again in our future. I mean being fully captivated by God's actions and Jesus' life. Building a biblical imagination involves waiting passionately in joyful expectation of what God will do next.

As a children's minister, staying centered on Jesus and developing a joyful biblical imagination is critical to the future of the church. After all, how can you lean on or pass on a flimsy faith? How can you inspire children if you're uninspired yourself? You've got to have passion to share it. You must be full of a sturdy, sound faith to inspire the next generation to develop and use their biblical imaginations. Every Christian needs regular encounters with Jesus, coming into contact with the whole of Jesus' personality and ministry, to keep us from creating our own favorite flavor of personal savior. The true Jesus is far different and far more amazing than any Jesus we might invent. So be inspired to get to know Jesus all over again in the gospels -- regularly -- and share your discovery with kids.

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