The word, Lent, comes from the Old English word, lencten, which means springtime or spring. I love this image. After all, the days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter, and sports teams start spring training. As we walk through the earliest days of spring with you, we will provide ideas, tips, stories and resources so you can exercise previously underused stewardship muscles to prepare for a new season of ministry. March’s spring training topics include Kids Strengthen Mission, Impact Investing, Setting Limits, Money and Mission, and Personal Wellness.
Kids Strengthen Mission
Lent is the perfect time to engage kids in a little spring training for mission! Young children have energy to burn and enthusiasm for all things new, so tap into it and your mission and ministry will be transformed. So often, stewardship leaders focus on adults and young children are left out. Admittedly, thinking about having traditional stewardship conversations with six year olds can be daunting, and I would not recommend going about it in a traditional way. Instead, flex some new muscles. Get to know some kids. Ask questions about their lives—school, friends, pets, and family members. As they tell you stories, they will share joys and concerns and will have concrete ideas about how to love their neighbors. Kids will help lead the way to strengthening and expanding your mission.
John’s gospel includes the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with bread and fish shared by a child—a young boy. We don’t have details about how the disciples first encountered the boy; he just appears. If the boy was anything like the kids I have worked with, he noticed the hungry people around him and went to the people in charge of the gathering with an offer to help. Let me give you some examples to illustrate what I mean. The following stories about Norah and Michael are true. They happened during my time serving in a congregational context as a director of children’s ministry and are representative of dozens of similar experiences when our ministry was strengthened and expanded by kids.
- Norah was 8 years old when her mom was in treatment for cancer and because sometimes the medicine made her mom feel chilly, Norah wanted to provide a little cozy comfort for her and others receiving cancer treatment. So, at her 9th birthday party she asked her friends to bring two pieces of blanket-sized polar fleece instead of presents. During her party the 9 year-olds made polar fleece tie blankets for cancer patients. A few days later, Norah, her mom, Gina, and brother, Max, drove to a cancer hospital and presented 15 patients with a blanket.
- Michael was 10 years old and super excited after Sunday school March 15, 2020 because he learned that the next Sunday was Sandwich Day. Sandwich Day was an annual tradition, when all the Sunday school kids aged 4-6th grade came together to make 1,500 sandwiches for people experiencing homelessness. But when everything shut down on March 18 because of Covid-19 and sandwich making was cancelled, Michael asked his mom if his family could still make sandwiches because people were still going to be homeless and hungry. So, with masks and gloves, a few loaves of bread and some cheese, Michael and his family made 50 sandwiches.
Get to know the young children in your midst. Listen deeply to what they are saying, provide support for them and their ideas, and enjoy the good ache of using stewardship muscles you didn’t even know you had. Thanks be to God. Amen.