I would really love to share the points below more widely within my own church and I would appreciate prayer and guidance on how to do so. We have so much going on (exciting!!) that everything always has to compete a little for time, space and attention and I need to be sensitive to that. I feel tears pricking up in my eyes as I even just think for a second on the kinds of things that happen and are said over children and teenagers every single week in our UK churches.
Last week, at our pre-service prayer meeting, we gathered to pray for the preaching of the word in the service and its effect on the hearers and I felt something rising up within me: WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US OPENING UP THE WORD TO CHILDREN? Can we be prayed for? Can our youth pastor's team be prayed for too as they teach from the word of God too?
Excuse the capitals, I wasn't angry; having been trained in theological college I utterly agree that preaching is an event where the Word of God is released, but don't the mentions of preaching and teaching in the Bible (proclaiming/declaring/telling/teaching/explaining/announcing.....there are many more!) have something to say about the dynamic relevance of opening up the Word of God to a wide variety of groups of people? I'm totally happy to be corrected and taught by other readers on this one; it is a genuine question I have and one I must ask my SP. He's a good instructor.
I am very grateful to the encouragement a fellow blogger has sent me recently to keep on going; in that they have recognised that there is something driving me, which, in their opinion, could be the missing piece of the revival jigsaw. To hear that from someone I haven't met, who is far away and in a different denominational stream, has meant a lot. Thank you!
Here, then, is my writings on Unlearning the Unhelpful. I post it in order that it may help the hundreds of readers who now visit each week; as you prayerfully go through it I trust that it will help you draw near to God as you renounce things that are not true and replace them with the truth.
I need to stress that there is no guilt in doing so; we live in a world that is FULL of unhelpful attitudes towards children and simply put, we get tainted with this. Today is a time to break free of these and come afresh to Father God to be re-energised with his wonderful heart towards children.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Things we may need to renounce:-
•not seeing children as made in the image of God (seeing them as to be tolerated)
•thinking that we have nothing to learn from children
•not allowing children to express ideas and opinions (ignoring faith development studies, where children need to ask questions and test what we say against what they say)
•if we are teaching children, -not giving over adequate time for prep (these are all well known stories I know like the back of my hand) and therefore not allowing the Spirit to speak to our hearts as we read from The Word.
•seeing children as bait: if we get them to come to church, we get the adults (the important people)
•believing that squirmy/noisy children are not listening in church when in reality they are taking everything in
•not allowing children to experience God taking hold of their imaginations (hence the resurgence I think, of Jerome Berryman’s Godly Play, allowing children to enter right into the stories)
•limiting children to our own experience, not allowing joy or sadness or excitedness or the experiential dynamism of the Holy Spirit
•being glad when they have left the service; seeing them as interruptions to our own worship
•if you are a kids' leader, seeing yourself as a babysitting service, missing out on the “main event”
•going “phew!” when children leave the room
•believing that all we need are lovely facilities and the best equipment and then children will be happy (and leave us alone to enjoy God as adults together)
•being a lone ranger and not part of a team
Here is a prayer of renunciation and repentance that I suggested could be used on the training day:
Father, I renounce the lie that _______________________________________
I am truly sorry and ask you to forgive me. I choose today to believe today that ____________________________________________________________________________________ (say here something that is the opposite of the lie that you have believed)
In Jesus name I pray. Amen.