[From the Sept/Oct 2008 issue's Editor Letter]
You’re in the middle of recruiting, aren’t you? Tell me if you’ve heard this excuse for not signing up: “Children’s ministry isn’t my spiritual gift.” If you’re like me, you may begin to wonder if the focus on spiritual gifts has unintentionally created a self-centered approach to ministry based on “who I am” rather than “what God is calling me to.” Makes me wonder.
Recently, I heard Wes Stafford, the president of Compassion International and author of Too Small to Ignore, talk about Mark 10:13-16: “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother him. But when Jesus saw what was happening, he was very displeased with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.’ Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Not only was Jesus “very displeased,” Wes said, but he was downright angry! And why? Because the adults stopped the children from getting to Jesus. They stood in their way. They became an obstacle or a hindrance.
In racquetball, there’s a funny rule that allows people to get a do-over if they miss a shot. All you have to do is call out “hinder”—meaning that your opponent got in the way. It doesn’t even have to be an intentional hindrance; it can be completely by accident. But calling “hinder” means that for whatever reason, your opponent kept you from reaching your goal.
It makes me wonder if we applied that to the church, what would it look like? Every time there wasn’t enough money to get the resources necessary for children to learn more about Jesus, could we call “hinder”? Every time we sat and prayed over vacant spots in our ministry, could we cry out “hinder”? Every time people made a comment about us just “babysitting,” could we lovingly help them see how their minimizing children’s ministry could result in a “hinder” somewhere down the road?
It was this line of musing that led to this issue’s Hot Topic article: “When Gifts Get in the Way." Read it with an open mind, and remember that Jesus called every one of us to do whatever is possible to get kids to Jesus. Could today’s spiritual gift inventories really be a “hinder”?
What do you think? Every week, you can find my musings on my blog at childrensministry.com. Come and join me!