By Claire Chinn, Minister of Children & Mission
A question that comes up frequently when talking with other children’s ministers is “How do we know our children are learning and being transformed?” We do not administer a test at the end of each nine weeks or make our children pass a test before moving to the next grade level. So how do we know??
To be honest, I do not have the perfect answer for this question. Churches and ministries all over the world have been grappling with this question and will continue to. Over the past several months I have discovered something else with our children. I have discovered that it might not be all about having the right answers.
If you have ever spent time with children, you might have experienced that dreaded series of “Why?” questions. There doesn’t ever seem to be an end in sight, and sometimes there is no answer that seems to explain just what the child needs or wants to hear. It can be a frustrating time when you hear the “why” for the 20th time in 10 minutes and you are tired of trying to come up with the answer that will end the why. It is in that moment that our children are discovering something new and wonderful.
They are not searching for the exact scientific reason why stars exist or why they need to wear shoes to go to school. In these moments they are not searching for the right answers; they are looking to explore with you. Our faith calls us to explore—to explore the Bible, to explore our world, to explore our relationships with ourselves and with others.
Our children may not be able to explain what the Trinity is, but they can explore the ways Jesus showed grace and mercy or how Jesus taught us to be kind and compassionate. We may not be able to test our children to see if they can tell us the differences between the four Gospels, but we will know that they have learned about the life and ministry of Jesus by the way they live their lives.
When our children ask us why, they are seeking to learn from us; when we ask why in church, we are seeking a better way to live a life closer to God. So maybe our right answers are found when we ask why. Ask why and explore; it is amazing what can happen when we stop looking for the right answers and we start to live the way of Jesus.