Monday, May 5, 2008

Grace in the midst of chaos

One of the challenges we've been facing and dealing with regularly at the CORE Church of Troy is the large number of Children that seem to be drawn to our ministry. This past Sunday was no exception as a few new young faces came through our doors. It would be nice if these kids came well mannered and ready for church, but the reality is that for most of them it is their first exposure to church. An added challenge is that some of these kids come to church hungry; physically hungry that is. My own two sons take it for granted that they can have breakfast before coming to church. They are learning that not all children are that fortunate. Case in point; three girls came to church this past Sunday with popsicles in hand that they had bought at the corner store. My boys were upset that we would not walk across the street and buy popsicles at 10:00 am. We soon learned that the popsicles the girls had was the only food they had eaten for breakfast. One of the girls ( 9 years old) explained that her mom was at work and that she was on her own, with the help of a 12 year old baby sitter. The babysitter was with her when she came to church, along with her own little sister and thought it was okay for them to eat popsicles for breakfast, since she admittedly didn't know how to cook. So, Sunday school hour became breakfast time as well.

This past Sunday the children, once again, outnumbered the adults. Kids are telling other kids about our ministry and they just keep coming. It seems like this past Sunday all of the kids were super wound. None of them wanted to sit and listen. I stopped and prayed for a second for the grace of God to lead the way. It had turned out to be a nice, sunny morning after a chilly, cloudy start. So, we went outside where we tossed a nerf football around and played some other games as well. At the end of the Sunday school hour we had barely read a few verses of Scripture, but what we had accomplished I am now seeing the broader implications of. Most of the kids stayed for our worship gathering and had worked off enough energy to where they were able to sit and pay attention and participate. I am learning that these kids are watching us to see if we really care about them, or if we just want to get them in the door to preach to them. Spending that Sunday school hour playing games and laughing with them gave them what they were looking for. They are seeing that we do care about them; even when they are rowdy and acting out. Along the way God is teaching us how to extend grace and to simply love these kids for who they are, messy, chaotic lives and all. We expected, coming into this ministry, that it would not be easy work; that we would be forced to step out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves to be used and stretched by the Holy Spirit. Children see through us for what we really are. Being transparent and authentic has not come naturally. God is showing us how to let go of what we know so that He can lead the way and grow His church.