I haven’t taught a children’s lesson since June, which is the longest stretch I’ve had since… 2005? That’s a rough guesstimate. It was 2005 when I got my driver’s license and started leading a little before-school Bible study for my sister and her classmates, and I don’t think I’ve had more than a few weeks break between opportunities since then.
I’ve been working hard on creating curriculum, so I haven’t been completely bereft of felt and coloring and imagination. The gaping hole, though, has been the lack of actual children to learn alongside. And then, last Sunday during worship, I remembered that there are people who have completely missed out on this opportunity- this growing alongside and listening to children as we worship together.
Children’s worship is often framed entirely as a gift for children or a responsibility of adults. When the focus of the lesson is merely the attainment of information and maintenance of crowd-control, I suppose that’s true. When I talk about Jesus with children, though, I find myself suddenly seeing a more complete, increasingly complex reality of the Kingdom of God. Solely as a result of not reaching mature cognitive function, children understand the Gospel differently than adults. It’s not that they misunderstand it, but that they see it from a different perspective which augments the perspective of the adults in the faith community.
In just the last 6 months, I’ve been reminded by my younger spiritual siblings of the vastness of God’s power over any difficult circumstance (“Jesus could help us even if we were really scared about our new class because we didn’t know anyone!”), the constancy of the Holy Spirit in everyday activities (“I talk with God whenever I ride my bike”), and the sheer joy of being with God forever in heaven (“and we’ll be there forever, and ever, and ever, and never have to leave!”). When I show up just to teach, I hear these comments as examples of good application and move on to the next question. When I show up to listen and learn, this adamant faith and joyful devotion leads me to deeper insight and love for the Lord, and I see the children not as recipients of my knowledge, but as fellow members of the Kingdom.
This Sunday, I get to learn about Genesis 1-2 with a group of children I haven’t met. Despite the fact that I wrote the curriculum, designed the classroom, and am doing 100% of the facilitation, I can hardly wait to learn something new.