“I Can Pray” by Sandra Fish…(Post 1 from P-yoo to Pew)
This post is the first in the series called, From P-yoo to Pew. Please Let Sandra know your thoughts!
Over the years of being involved in church, I have thought often about children’s ministry. Not just the idea of, “where are the men in children’s and youth ministry”, but also, “why do we always have such a hard time finding anyone to fill the many needed positions in our churches”. If we really value children and young people, shouldn’t there be a waiting list of folks, young and old, male and female, lining up to be involved?
Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty…they will tell of the power of your awesome works.” I was struck by the idea that “One generation will commend your works to another…”. I have been so blessed by those in generations older than mine who have shared their journey with me. There are times when I am in the midst of a challenging time and I know just whom to call to ask for prayer because they have been through a similar thing. So then I ask myself, “Am I being faithful to share His works in my life, the times when I have experienced His glorious splendor and seen the power of His awesome works”? Am I sharing these things with those younger than me? I don’t have to be a skilled teacher, nor does it matter if I am male or female, to share of God’s faithfulness in my life!
A regular thing I am trying to practice is asking someone how I can be praying for them, and then to pray right then for their request. This can feel so awkward! I remember teaching 4thand 5th grade Sunday school and being asked over and over again to pray for one particular little girl that her parents would let her have a kitten. I think in my mind I rolled my eyes a little but then went ahead and prayed, wondering what God might be thinking. I don’t remember if that little girl ever got a kitten but I do remember several years later when her parents were going through a divorce, she called me one day and asked me to pray for her. Then in her last years of high school, her brother was arrested….she called again. I was glad to pray for her. I wonder if that willingness to pray for a kitten somehow let this little girl know that there were adults in her life who cared about the things she cared about and were willing to pray for her no matter what her requests. I don’t have to be a skilled teacher to ask a young person how I can pray for them!
One of my boys plays football (okay, he might live and breathe football). He doesn’t have any friends at church right now who play football. But there is an older gentleman in our church who played football in high school and college. He found out that my son played football and began to ask him every Sunday at church how his game went that week! Then there was one week when this man even came to one of his games. One of the first things said to me after that game, “did you see ______ at the game”. That Sunday, my son sought him out to say, “thanks for coming”. My son now has a friend at church who played football.
For me this has been an amazing example of how meaningful it can be when one generation shares with another. You don’t have to be a gifted teacher to notice young people in your church who have similar interests to you and then reach out to them and start a conversation.
I have had the privilege over the past 15 years of teaching Sunday School with a team of 4-8 people. Teaching with a team lightens the load and makes being committed to teaching Sunday School do-able. Some of the people on these teams would say, “teaching is not my gift”. Somehow they were able to see being involved with the young people in our church not just as an opportunity to “use their gifts,” but as an opportunity to reach out to a younger generation and build a lasting relationship, sharing what God has done in their life.
One wonderful thing about being part of a team is that each adult seemed to connect with different young people in the class. When there was a challenging situation, there was a group ready to listen and pray with. If I taught a lesson in a way that didn’t make sense, a different teacher would follow up the next week with a different teaching style that might help the class understand better. It’s wasn’t just one adult in the room sharing their experiences with Christ….
It’s not always easy, in fact sometimes it’s hard and exhausting, but God’s faithfulness and blessing have been overwhelming. I don’t have to be a skilled or trained teacher to be part of a team of people reaching out to young people.
Our church and other churches in the Northwest are going through a 50-day prayer journal. As we do so, we are being challenged to ask those around us how we can pray for them. In fact we are being asked to seek out and ask others how we can pray for them. I notice that it is easier to ask my friends how I can pray for them than it is to reach out to someone new. I wonder if it would make a difference if we were all intentional about asking as least one young person every week how we can pray for them! I don’t have to be a skilled teacher, or a woman, or a man, to ask a young person how I can pray for them and then do it!
Sandra Fish is a member of Newberg Friends Church and serves as Chair of the Board at Twin Rocks Friends Camp and Conference Center, and has taught Sunday School in a children’s classroom for the last 15 years!