I love reading the search terms that lead people to my blog. Defying the one-way dynamic of the writer-reader relationship, search terms give me insight into the people who find my blog. Yesterday I read one that touched me more than usual, because the seeker poured their heart out to the query field with these words: “I am nervous about doing a children’s church sermon” – mystery reader, I pray you found something to set your heart and mind at ease.
Since I first wrote about children’s sermons this past May, I have noticed a trend that I call the “Saturday night spike”: The most hits I get all week are usually on Saturday – many of them via internet searches having to do with children’s sermons.
At first, I was bemused, then concerned – why were so many people putting off planning their children’s sermons until they had less than 24 hours to prepare? I was upset, wondering if they had just forgotten; if children – those about whom Jesus said, “to such belong the kingdom of God” – were an afterthought. But yesterday’s “nervous” worship leader reminded me that thoughtlessness is seldom the problem – more often, it is thoughtfulness to the point of alternating panic and avoidance.
I know that when I procrastinate, it is because I fear the task set before me on some level. I love children’s sermons, so I always start thinking about them right away. But if children’s sermons don’t intimidate me, that doesn’t mean that nothing intimidates me! There are plenty of things that I put off out of fear, counting on the panic at the last “do or die” moment to drive me more towards “do” than towards “die.” Sadly, it doesn’t work out that way for everyone. I remember learning in worship class in seminary that more pastors commit suicide on Saturday than on any other day of the week by far. The message: if you are feeling intimidated by any task that is set before you, get help early on – from a therapist, a spiritual director, a confessor… someone who can help you do your work without relying on last minute panic to drive you.
I wonder if my posts on children’s sermons are helpful. I hope so. Particularly given how often they are read on a Saturday night. I pray that those who find themselves talking to the children on Sunday morning will discover joy in their work, and will rest in the assurance that God loves them very much – no less than God loves the children that they are charged with.
And if you are very nervous about talking with the children in front of the congregation, see if you can think of someone who loved and welcomed you when you were a child. (And oh, how I pray you had at least one, and hopefully many people in your life as a child who fit that description!) May their love for you give you courage, and their words and actions guide you as you find your own style of letting the love of God flow through you in your worship leadership and your work with the children. Amen.