When the Christmas and Easter Crowd Shows Up
Christmas is an exciting time in Children’s Ministry. Most likely, as a volunteer or as a leader, you are preparing for a children’s program, a special Christmas song, a Happy Birthday Jesus party or some other way of celebrating with your kids. You want kids to be excited about the birth of Jesus and to fully embrace the true meaning of Christmas. You want them to focus not on the presents, but on who Christ is and what His birth means for all of us. So, as leaders, we prepare and we anticipate and we make sure we are doing everything we can to get “our” kids excited about the true meaning of Christmas! We spend the entire year pouring into these kids, teaching them about who Jesus is, and getting to celebrate with them is just the icing on the cake!
And then it happens. Just like it does every year. Christmas and Easter families show up. You know, the ones who only make it to church twice a year or any time they may need an electric bill paid.
If you’re anything like me, you find yourself feeling frustrated. Frustrated their parents don’t see the importance of year-long engagement in Bible learning. Frustrated with their lack of commitment to the church body. Frustrated they will receive a family gift and get to celebrate just like the families who are here all year long do.
It’s in this moment in my thinking pattern that I step back for a minute, take a deep breath, and repent. Because what I’m really saying is this: I’m frustrated with grace. In my sin nature and in my humanness, I want it to be fair. But here’s the thing about grace: fair isn’t part of the equation. What I myself have been given from my Father in heaven, I do not deserve. I have done nothing and will do nothing that will somehow credit what He has done for me. How can I justify being stingy with grace? When did I earn the right to choose who receives grace and who doesn’t? The truth is I never did, and I never will.
“Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” John 1:16
And from this verse, this is what I have determined:
Because of who He is and what He has done for me, I can continue to extend grace in place of grace already given to others.
So what are we to do when our Christmas and Easter families show up? Here are a few ideas:
1. Be Thankful.
Think about it: out of all the places they could choose to go around the holiday season, they chose your church. Whether it’s the love and grace you have extended as a church in the past, the quality of the children’s classes and teachers, or the love shown by your pastor, whatever the reason, they came back to your church. The love of Christ is being shown and your church is a light for Him. That is what every church should desire to be! Be thankful for their presence, and be thankful that your church family is known by their love for others.
2. Extend Grace.
When the children may not follow the rules, extend grace. When the children play the musical instruments a little too loud or talk out of turn a little too often, extend grace. A good reminder for me is this: I may be the only Jesus follower this child meets this year. If that’s the case, am I loving like Jesus would? Am I extending grace like Jesus would? Show them who Jesus is by being the best representation of Him. And when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, continue to extend grace. Because that is what we have been asked to do, and because that is what we are capable of doing because of what He has done for us.
Pray for the children. Pray for their family. Pray for your attitude. Keep them on your prayer list all year long. Prayer is the primary work of God’s people. If we can do nothing else the entire year we don’t see them, we can pray for them. And that, my friends, is powerful.
Please join me this Christmas season in being thankful, extending grace, and praying for all of our families, especially our Christmas and Easter ones. Together, let’s be the Light that God has called us to be in this dark world, and let’s be faithful to the calling He has given each one of us to love others as He has loved us.