When I was young, I remember attending church and listening to my Sunday school teacher walk us through a felt board presentation about why Jesus needed to die on the cross. Our teacher was an incredibly tall man named Mr. B. He had large sausage fingers that struggled to pull the felt away from the board. While he did at times struggle with the felt, I don’t ever remember him struggling with his words. His message was clear and it was the Gospel. There weren’t many people I listened to so intently back then.
Mr. B was engaged, helpful, caring and humble. These characteristics that I was also learning about in the Bible stories he shared, were constants in his life, regardless of what we brought to the table each week. I don’t ever remember getting in trouble but I am certain that I did. Mr. B never made us feel “bad” or “difficult” but rather forgiven and loveable. Very much a reflection of the kind of love I was learning about in the Bible. Sacrificial love.
He shared the Gospel through his words but he showed the Gospel through his life.
As I consider Mr. B, my own children including the culture that they live in, and my experience working in youth ministry, I become more and more certain that there is little value in a ministry that is not centred around the gospel.
It must be shared often. More than ever, church attendance has become irregular. A new person or child attending your church, may be back or they may not. Their first time could be their last. This has always been the case of course, but irregular attendance seems to be more common, and unfortunately even accepted.
I didn’t become a christian in Mr. B’s class. I didn’t become a Christian for many years following actually, but that doesn’t change the impact of his message or the impact of his living example.
“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:11 (NLT)
Most Awana club kids will tell you that game time is their favourite part, but it’s our alumni and club parents, that thank us for teaching the gospel so consistently through the years. As we age we tend to reflect on the things that have impacted us the most and few can deny the impact of the Gospel in their lives and of those that shared or showed it.