“So, when do I get one,” was the perhaps most innocent and revealing questions that I have encountered from a kid. Several of us had just spent about an hour running an energetic Easter egg assembly line consisting of hard candy, pencils, and chocolate bunnies. And as we were placing the bags and eggs back into their boxes, one kid naturally wanted to know how to get her share of the goodies. She was surprised and a touch disappointed to learn that we had been working to serve others. But on the upside, she learned an invaluable lesson: Church is not just about us.
As adults, we too need to be reminded that church is not about us. Though we all recognize Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and know we should use our freedom in Christ to serve one another (Gal 5:13), we still at times look at church, wondering what we will get out of it. While we don’t see the church as the ticket to free candy, we see it as the ticket to free childcare, entertainment, and community. We want other people to teach our kids, to sing for us, and to care about our problems without offering to serve those who care for us. Instead of asking, “What can we do for the body;” we ask only, “What will the body do for me?” In so doing, we downsize the radical service of the Bible to common, everyday service of self.
Love, community, and peace are not found in relaxing, fun actives or in cool worship services. They are found in radical, unnerving obedience to Christ. And being obedient to Christ means we have love God with everything and then care more about our neighbor’s needs than our own. We have to willing sacrifice for others, counting them more important than us. This calling is ridiculously hard. But to follow Christ as individual and as a church, we have to live to serve.
And, we need to teach our kids this Biblical mindset. Although I firmly believe kids’ ministry should be evangelistic (avoiding the common pitfall of training unbelieving kids to be missionaries,) I also think we need to practically demonstrate God’s love for others in front of our kids. We need to go beyond wacky Wednesday and Super Sundays. We need to include kids in mission trips, fundraising drives, and service projects. We need to help our kids see that true faith is not a call to consume but call to give.
I’ve been blessed to work with many teachers who have great ideas for serving others. What things or activities have helped your kids learn how to care for others?