Part three is going to deal with an item that I actually thought about just before lecturing about the same topic – I ended up discussing the item during the lecture and got a positive response – it was not in the lecture notes, but I thought I would add it anyway because it’s a point of discussion:
The definition and explanation of an altar…
If you are in a community where there is a strong “liturgical” church presence, you will no doubt be faced with concern from adults – and even children who have learned of the sacredness of an “altar”. In some traditions, an altar is a physical place in the church building that cannot be accessed by just anyone – only the minister or priest. I had the opportunity to visit some of the oldest church buildings in the world in Armenia. In these buildings were “altars” that were falling apart, yet, no one was allowed to go near them or touch them… they were sacred. I would imagine there are those who fear the idea of an “altar” because they’ve been taught that it is too serious of a place.
I will not have a theological debate with anyone on the topic; I will tell you that I grew up in a catholic tradition and became born-again at age 10. When I learned that I could approach God on my own, it fascinated me! But the concern still lingered in my new church environment as to where the “altar” was on or near the platform… it didn’t exist. It was later that I was taught that when the time of prayer came, an “altar” was created by each individual at the front by kneeling at the steps.
Now, I understand that each and every church is different. And am no doubt a believer in the power of prayer. But, I have come to the conclusion that some teaching on the topic of an “altar” needs to take place on a regular basis. Kids need to have an understanding of what an “altar” was and still is. It was a place of worship, prayer and sacrifice. It still is, but because of the work of Christ on the cross, we can make any place we go, a place of worship, prayer and sacrifice. At times, I will have an “altar” time near the front of the Kids’ Church room where kids can stand or kneel. Other times, I will make them turn and kneel at their chairs. And still, at other times, I will have kids scatter throughout the room to pray or worship and find a place where they can connect with God. We see that even in ancient Jewish cultures, one would wrap his outer cloak around himself and cross his arms… this was known as his “prayer-closet” – location didn’t matter at times.
I think that last statement is really what I want to get across: To me, location of an altar time doesn’t matter – as long as they are connecting with God.
I’ll get back to altar times and kids later this week. For now I submit the following:
Today – this thought ran through my head:
If I never showed up again at my church – what would or wouldn’t the impact be? Now please don’t read into this as a future plan to bolt – I love my church, my Pastor, the staff and the kids.
You’ve heard the question: “If you church suddenly shut down, would anybody in the neighborhood notice?”
I guess that’s what I’m asking – if I never showed up again; sure, the kids might be sad for a time, the staff may have a few fond memories, but… what would the lasting impact be? Have I made a difference that will leave an impression on this generation and the generations to come?
What about you? Have you made the impact in such a way that if today was your last Sunday, would change a kid’s world? Would the impression last? You really need to ask yourself that question.
Larry Norman sang, “It’s only today that counts – so, live it like it might be your last…”
Well, it’s only today that counts… minister like it might be your last.
THE TIME AND PLACE
Where will children respond and receive from God, unless you give them a time and a place to do it? Trust me, they won’t wait until they get home to respond! I’ve been guilty of this:
Once upon a time, in a church far from here, when I was a much younger man… I saw the “moment” happen. You know what I’m talking about (I think I blogged about it a while back), it’s the “moment” when you realize that the connection has been made in these kids during the service. I was teaching away and I realize that the “moment” was present – God wanted to do something! But alas, there, at the back door were the parents waiting (how did they get out of church before us?) I panicked scrambled for what to do. So, I said something to the effect of:
“Kids, I know that God wants to do something special in your lives today… but we’ve run out of time! I want you to go home and get alone with God and let Him do that something special this afternoon…”
Do you think that these kids did it? Most likely NOT. When these kids leave your church, they are going to go do a variety of activities: go out to eat, go over to a friends house, go visit relatives, they have homework to do, they’re going to go out to play – these are KIDS with busy lives!
Everywhere else the world has the attention of your children. These kids have been given a time a place to respond and receive from the world on an hourly basis; Think about commercials, television shows, peer pressure at school and even in your own backyard. “Here, try this… this is fun… just do what I do… you need one of these… buy this!” And then comes the response from the children… “Ok, I’ll try it… this IS fun… mom, I want that… I need that… buy that for me!” You need to give them a place to respond and receive. The words I love to hear on Sunday mornings are, “I need that… I want that… Lord, give me that… I want more!”
A few items to be aware of:
- God wants your kids to come to Him – reread the story of Jesus and the kids.
- The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will often times move the strongest when you have planned for Him and make the room in your service for Him (yes, make no mistake,there will be those times when He will surprise you).
- God can and will speak to kids… if you allow kids to Hear His voice.