I got an email from my friend Carrie asking about serving as a sub in the Grace Kids hallway while the high school students would be away in early February at their long-awaited MERGE retreat. Up to that point, I had never served with our children other than during Grace Kids Camp. I have loved serving at Grace Kids Camp, because I can give it my all for a week and then take the next 12 months to recharge. I have two of my own kids, and my plan was to wait until they were grown before I branched out to serve with kids more regularly. But Carrie’s email tugged at my heartstrings since the need was clearly there—and it was a temporary assignment. I thought to myself, “I may not be very good at it, but I can branch out of my comfort zone and help just this one time.”
I explained that it was my very first time as a leader in Grace Kids, and they all giggled when I said that I knew they’d be really good at teaching me how to do it.
The day came, and I’ll admit that I was fairly nervous that morning. I had been assigned to serve as a small group leader for the 3rd-5th grade room. I was looking forward to the experience, but the role felt very intimidating to me. I figured I was about to find out the hard way whether or not I was cut out for it! I checked in and reported to my post. Carrie and the volunteers greeted me and shared the lesson plan for the day. Our topic for that day was Communion. At about that point, the kids started coming in, and I was all in!
We took a few minutes to learn names and get to know each other. I explained that it was my very first time as a leader in Grace Kids, and they all giggled when I said that I knew they’d be really good at teaching me how to do it. Right off the bat, I observed that my group of 6 girls had some shy ones, some talkative ones, some who had been around for a while, and some who were new—just like me. As soon as we got through our intros, it was time to head to Large Group for worship.
Large Group lasted a generous chunk of time, and it was sweet to see how enthusiastic many of the kids were about singing and following along with the dance moves. They asked very thoughtful questions during the teaching time, and I remember feeling surprised and impressed at how much they already understood about the day’s topic. By the time we started heading back to the classroom, we only had a brief handful of minutes left for discussion.
The lesson plan had plenty of suggested discussion icebreakers to choose from, but another idea sprang to mind when we sat down and began to talk. I said, “If you were able to take communion with Jesus, what would you say to him?” Immediately, I could feel the Holy Spirit at work. I hadn’t planned that question, but every single one of the girls raised their hands wanting to answer.
We took turns going around the table, and one of the quiet girls started. She said she would tell him, “Hi!” I instinctively responded from my heart to her simple contribution by telling her I loved that she would greet him and then be able to listen to whatever he wanted to talk about—because it would all be interesting!
Next, a couple of the other girls listed off specific things Jesus had done in their lives that they would want to thank him for. Finally, the last of the group to share her answer said, “I would tell him I love him.” As my heart was melting into a puddle at that small group table, I knew that we had touched on the reason Jesus taught his disciples to be like little children.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:14-16
These girls had just shown me how they would receive Jesus if they had the opportunity to meet him in person—they would greet him, thank him, and share their love with him. I believe there is a great deal of wisdom wrapped up in the simplicity of their heartfelt responses. In fact, we heard from Barry about the Lord’s Prayer recently. He taught that Jesus reminded us to start our time in prayer with a focus on God the Father. It’s not about me. This little small group had demonstrated a whole month ahead of Barry’s sermon that they get it!
Despite their giggles at the idea that they would be teaching me in our time together, I knew going into it that I’d be learning something that morning. And I did. I learned about the love for Jesus that pours out of the pure hearts of little children. What a wonderful lesson it was! I’ve already been back to serve a second time, because the experience has impacted me so much.
If you are interested in having your own experience serving in Grace Kids, you can learn more here, or log in to your Grace Account to browse and sign up for serving opportunities. I hope you’ll give it a try!