Monday, March 24, 2008


It's like it was yesterday...and yet so long ago. The truth is, it has been a little over two weeks since the Children's Pastors Conference in San Diego. As in years past, I am still letting concepts, principles, ideas, and inspirations settle in. Some things will hit me months from now. I still look back at notes from 2003 for an idea or to refresh my memory on something I heard. This is no different. I have fun, fond memories of my time in San Diego...the worship, the workshops, the meeting new friends at the Kidology gathering (made even more significant and somewhat bittersweet by the passing of Dan Rase, with whom I shared a meal at the CPC's "Dinner on the Town" function. You can read a touching article about Dan here). I got to put faces and names together of fellow bloggers and ministers I've only known by screen names, icons, or book titles. As I've posted before, it was a wonderful experience.

But interestingly enough, one of the most significant concepts I brought back from San Diego did not occur at a workshop or a general session or a gathering or from the myriad of resources I obtained. No, this concept hit me in the quiet of my hotel room, the night before the conference officially began, as I was thinking and praying about what was in store for me that first week of March and what would make an impact in the lives of the children on Sunday morning.

I began thinking about our setup on Sunday mornings. Because we hold our Large Group gathering in the fellowship hall, everything has to be moved into position. So on Saturday night, I am down at the church hauling tables, chairs, moving sound equipment, setting up projectors, and getting the area ready for the kids. Some nights, I am joined by others, some nights I do it alone, but I get caught up in the excitement of getting ready!

But on Sunday morning, as the hour ends and parents start filtering in to pick up their kids, the process is reversed. Chairs get stacked, equipment gets moved, tables are put up, props and dvds put away, etc. and so on. Our young helpers help, our team helps, and, if we are speedy enough, we don't have to stay too long after the service.

But then it hit me, in one of those obvious, "duhhh" ways that God sometimes uses to get my attention. You see, the elders have said that they want to see me in the main service periodically so that parents can know who it is that teaches their kids (Of course, unless I'm pointed out as the one who teaches their kids, they aren't going to know who I am. And if I am pointed out, it begs the question, "if you're up here, who's back there teaching my kids now?"). At any rate, I do miss the connection with the kids and their parents. I have four little blond haired girls from two different families whose names I still get mixed up to this day! I don't always get to see the parents who picks up the little guy in his Sunday best, or the single mom of the new kid who was too shy to sing. I don't always get the chance to joke around with the kids or shake the hands of their folks because all the stuff has to get put away and cleaned up before I go.

(Slap upside the head)! Like the proverbial ton of bricks, it hit me. The stuff that has to be put away will still be there. I claim to want to build relationships with children and their families. I'm missing a prime connecting point right after the service. So, there in my hotel room far from my southern Oregon home, I resolved not to put anything away, not to help clean up, not to lift a single chair or piece of equipment until the kids were gone. Hey, our teen helpers can start if they want...that's fine. But for that golden time following the service, I want to be talking to children and greeting the parents. I want to make those connections. I told my wife about it, since any after-church plans could be affected. She understood and was all in favor. My pastor is thrilled. My team sometimes can stay later, sometimes can't, but they are all supportive.

Yes, I took a lot from CPC. But this little lesson on not cleaning up before the last child walks out the door was by far the most valuable.

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