I have a new friend, Ashley, who is a third grader at Harrison Primary Center. We read together on Friday afternoons. She usually brings a book along, one that she picked up at the library earlier in the day, but one that’s not really “exciting.” We read it, because she’s going to have to take a test on it later, but I find myself getting anxious to get on to the “fun” book we picked out together. The book I call “boring” is one that is simple enough for her to read, and great practice for her, as she’s still working really hard to put written words together. I know it’s important, but it’s really not an encouragement to want to read. So when we get to book number two, she likes for me to read. And I love it.
Yesterday, we read “The Cat in the Hat.” Ashley was familiar with some of the story, but not all and didn’t even know how it ended. But her face lit up as I read with excitement, used different voices and held her off with dramatic pauses. I would ask her questions along the way and I knew by her face that she couldn’t wait to turn the page!
The goal is to help Ashley develop a love of reading. When you enjoy something you tend to want to explore it, spend time with it, learn more about it, get better at it. It’s the same with people. When you enjoy being with them, you value your time together, you find ways to make the time together richer, and you look forward to seeing them again soon.
Last Sunday, Herb Buwalda, our lead pastor, shared the question, “What is most important right now?” and Aaron Helman, our youth minister, answered that question. He said, “We must become experts at noticing the people around us and connecting with their needs and lives.” If you missed it, you can watch Question #6 in “My Life as a Mission” series. As I listened to them, I couldn’t help but think of Ashley. I don’t know her very well yet, but she tells me about her grandpa and her little cousin. She tells me about a field trip she’s going on Monday. She tells me likes to draw. I think we’ll be good friends before long.
It dawned on me yesterday: I wonder if her family knows someone is spending time with her, investing in her, beginning to care for her?
And that leads me to wonder, “Do you know who’s spending time with, investing in, and caring for your child on Sunday mornings?”
We have an amazing team of small group leaders in FaithWorks! And every one of them is there because they want to be there. Here’s a highlight reel of the people dedicated to helping kids have a faith that works:
Tom and Judy Rossow have been with their Kindergarten class since they were three years old. They call their group “their kids” and spend every single Sunday with them during the school year. I bet if you asked a Kindergartener at the second hour which one of them doesn’t mind looking for a snack, they’d tell you! Tom and Judy have grown to love and care about these kids.
This is the second year that Amy Romanin has been with her group of second graders. She has helped them develop a bond with each other and tells me often that she loves being with these kids because they now know each other so well that they share very openly and discussions are lively. She cares for these kids!
Joan Keeler knows her small group of fifth graders. She’s been with this group for years and has even taken a lead role in our THRIVE preteen ministry. They have spent enough time together that the kids share openly. She comes to me with prayer requests for her group when she knows they need more prayer than just from her. I know Joan prays for these kids as if they were her own. She cares.
Marina Collier is going to invite her fourth graders to her farm. She’s been with this group of kids for two years now and loves them enough to share life with them! She knows which one’s going to chase the turkeys or ride the horse and which would rather just pick a pumpkin. She cares enough to know this kind of stuff.
Jen and Doug Williamson spend time with the little ones in the nursery. They care enough to know when it’s time to load everyone up the wagons and explore the hallways and cafe. And they walk together. That says something about them.
This is just a small sampling of the people who have decided to spend their time not just talking about Jesus, but living life with the children of Clay Church. I could go on and one with stories. But I’d rather you found them out. I could tell you what they are teaching your kids. But I’d rather you asked. I could tell you that these people (the whole FaithWorks! team, not just those I mentioned above) are totally amazing. But I’d rather you experience that.
This Sunday, don’t wait for your child at the door. Don’t wave to them from across the room to come to you. If they run to you, walk back to their rug. Your child’s small group leader is someone to notice and connect with. They are someone whose lives are intersecting with your child’s. Get to know them. I think you’ll find out they are doing more than teaching.