I am a little exited about the internship I will be part of this year at my church. Of course, who isn’t excited at the beginning of something new. Ask me in a few months how I feel about it and things may be a little different. Life has a funny way about it when it comes to new endeavors. Excitement begins, then reality hits and we want out. Rarely do the great things undertaken ever feel like they are great and wonderful while they are happening.
Now I am not calling what I am doing in the internship a great thing. But, I do have some good tasks laid before me for the upcoming year. Apart from the regular readings, meetings, and fellowship, I have been assigned a project. My job is to help out with the curriculum for some children’s outreach.
Now, I know some of you are already laughing at the thought of my working with kids. I mean, here’s a guy who tutors Hebrew, reads it every morning (not very willingly most mornings), and reads scholarly works like, The Deuteronomistic History by Martin Noth, for fun. He will be attempting to write for kids!? HI-larious!
As entertaining as that may be, you should realize that working with kids is not a new task for me. I have far more experience teaching children in a church setting than adults. I taught Royal Ambassadors for years, led many Vacation Bible School classes, children’s Sunday school classes, and a Good News Bible Club after school, just to name a few…
Now, I am not listing these credentials as if to say, “I am the man for the job!” Quite the contrary. I have a great deal to learn about teaching children. But, I am not starting from scratch. I have little experience in working with kids. I am excited to put that experience to good use and watch it mature over the course of the year.
Because I have worked with kids I don’t take this task lightly. Kids can sometimes be the hardest to teach. Not because it is hard to keep their attention (actually we adults often get in our own way here), but because they’ll ask the questions that adults are too scared or embarrassed to ask. In fact, they can be the most inquisitive theologians. And if the teaching deals with the deep questions that every kid is asking (like, “is God really real?”), the answers we give them will be memorable to them.
Back when I was teaching RAs my buddy Wes and I decided that we would go through church history with the kids (1st grade through 6th). One night I was teaching on the martyrdom of Polycarp. As I was telling them about his death one of the kids just interrupted and said, “That’s not going to work!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He replied, “I don’t want to die!”
Immediately he had taken Polycarp’s death and applied it to his own situation. He understood that Polycarp’s death was because Polycarp believed in Christ. The kid believed in Christ. Would he die too?
When all the other kids heard the word “die” the room grew silent and all eyes were glued on me. It was unexpected and I was taken aback for a few moments, but I knew that all I had was about thirty seconds to explain the preciousness of Christ. I don’t remember all that was said, but I know the gist, that Christ more precious than anything else in this world. And I hope those kids took that with them when they left. They continued to talk about Polycarp for a few weeks (until we got to Ulfilas, then was Ufilas Dufilas—as in doofus).
In all the classes that I taught, both adult classes and children’s classes, it is that moment, that I remember most vividly. The looks on the kids faces, and the realization that believing in Jesus might cost them their life is etched into my memory. When I am old and Alzheimery, I’ll still remember that night.
The only difference this year will be writing/editing children’s curriculum. My writing abilities will be brought into it a bit (I hope). I’m excited about this. Being a quiet man who doesn’t force himself on others in conversation too much; I have found writing to be a far more comfortable endeavor than conversation with complete strangers . And now, being able to use writing in this way excites me!