The air was cool and a gentle breeze was blowing across the porch looking out on the mountains, so I moved to the porch for my prayer time. As I sipped coffee and prayed, I heard movement below and slightly beyond where I was sitting. Often, I hear gobblers and hens, which gather at the stream below, so I sat up to see if a hen had wandered to the top of the mountain looking for breakfast. The woods are thick in the direction I heard the noise coming from, so I waited patiently as the movement through the dry leaves continued. It was too loud to be a hen, so I anticipated something larger. I sat frozen, almost afraid to breathe, because I didn’t want to miss what was moving in my direction.
With my neck stretched as far as it would go, without moving out of my seat, finally I spotted it. It was a deer. As it moved closer, I could see its tail drooping and its ears raised, like a radar antenna. When it was confident that no danger was imminent, it moved through the tall grass, nibbling the seeds that dangled and then the leaves. By now its tail was wagging, happily like a bunny.
I remained frozen, because I didn’t want to scare it away. It continued meandering through the vegetation, nibbling and munching as it strolled. It moved out of my site, so I stood up to see. It continued eating and I moved again, this time into its line of sight. It saw me and froze. I moved out of its view, but when I crept back to take another peak, it was gone.
It was exhilarating. I wanted to awaken my grandkids to share the experience with them, but I didn’t dare move, because I knew movement would scare the deer away. As I pondered my early morning visitor, I thought of the similarities between my actions and the tendencies of some children’s pastors.
While they seem to be unrelated, too often we act as if we think the noise and activity of children will frighten Holy Spirit like a dove or deer flees when frightened. Maybe our caution is shaped by the fact that one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit found in the Bible is a dove. Perhaps, we think that the presence of God can be scared away by the noise that accompanies a group of children. We seem to think that God’s presence is fragile and requires quiet children, which we know most children are incapable of experiencing for any period of time. While Holy Spirit is like a dove, gentle and un-invasive, He isn’t timid and noise doesn’t bother God; He welcomes it. Just read the account of Jesus’ opinion of kid’s worship at his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
It is arguably true, that one of our primary jobs in children’s ministry is to help children develop a personal relationship with God. Helping children engage in worship that takes them into God’s presence is a vital relationship key. As a children’s ministry leader with a passion to take children into the presence of God there are four very important things to remember.
1. Kids can genuinely experience the presence of God in life changing dimensions. His presence can leave its imprint on their lives for eternity.
2. Kids can move in and out of the presence of God easily. This is because they are kids and not adults. They are easily distracted, so establishing boundaries and aids to facilitate and direct their focus helps them to experience the most from their God encounter.
3. Because kids can move in and out of the presence of God so easy, you can help them move back into His presence with encouragement and redirection.
4. It doesn’t have to be lengthy to be powerful. Don’t measure the impact by time or emotional reaction. God can say some powerful things to children as they encounter God without children reacting with weird or strong emotions.