So last Sunday I kinda sorta blew up. Well, I felt like I blew up. In hindsight, I was angry but I was controlled. I snapped, but I reigned it in. I reprimanded, but I didn't threaten or accuse. Here's what happened. (God, forgive me if I sinned in my anger.)
The kiddies have a presentation on Easter Sunday, so last Sunday, we spent Sunday School practicing our songs. I brought the little ones over to the big kids' classroom. The first straw was when I asked the big kids to help me push the tables and chairs against the wall so we can have more room for everyone.
It was like setting off a bomb. Many of these kids immediately and destructively pushed the tables and chairs against each other as they pushed it against the wall. A piece of a chair literally broke off. A child fell on the floor underneath two chairs. Another child was trapped between the table and the wall. They were shouting and shoving...
Remember, this was our 4th Sunday at our new building. Those chairs didn't belong to us or the church. A member lent it to us until we get our furniture. We're still settling in. The murals in the big kids' room aren't even done.
...and all I wanted was some help to clear some space.
After getting everyone calmed down, we practiced. After practicing, I told the little kids to sit on the floor, and I told the big kids they can sit on the chairs. Immediately, the same kids who were most destructive earlier started kicking the chairs. KICKING chairs.Why? I don't get it, but that was the last straw.
"Excuse me," I said sternly and raising my voice. "If you don't want to sit on the chairs, sit on the floor. This is a new building. God gave us a new building. You have no idea how much prayer and work went into this building. God gave this is to us. You need to respect the things God gave us. He blessed us with this building. If you don't respect it..."
I wanted to say, "then leave."
But I wouldn't have meant it. No matter how crazy their actions become and no matter how angry I get, I wouldn't want them to leave because God wants them there.
So instead I said, "then what will happen? You'll mess up what God gave us."
Pause. Breath. Stop the tears from falling.
"Do you get it?" I asked. They were quiet. I don't know if they got it. We had a break, and I handed out snacks.
It's been very challenging not having our own space. The church was always under constraints: in time, in days, in things we can and cannot do, in rooms we can and cannot use, and in abiding by the rules of other people.
Our children's ministry have always had many challenges too. One time, we had rooms that we had to tip-toe around. We cannot put up artwork or posters, or whatever. The furniture was big and made for adults. There were so many safety issues we cannot fix. Then we only had one huge room, a small sanctuary actually. We had no dividers. We had to go off to different corners. Sometimes there were tables and chairs. Other times, it was just one big open space. Another time, there were heavy chairs we cannot move. Sometimes chairs were stacked (safety issue, think about it). At another time, many of our things were stolen. An area rug. A big bin of toys marked with our name A storage drawer containing supplies one of my teachers bought with her own money and passed on being reimbursed for. That was the worst because we knew it was a ministry that took our things with them when they left to start their own church.
And our kids saw all this. They heard it often enough that we didn't own the furniture or the art materials around us. They heard it often enough not to touch them.
Now we have our own space. And perhaps it didn't connect in their heads to respect our new God-given place. But they're old enough to know that kicking and shoving furniture is wrong. They're old enough to know that shouting and hurting each other is not acceptable behavior.
Part of me wants to know what we - as the kidmin leaders - are lacking. Part of me wants to know what's going on at their homes. Part of me wants to know if it's a medical issue (because having been around kids since I was a kid myself, I could tell if a kid is just rambunctious or possibly have ADHD).
But mostly, I'm fed up. This is me being honest. Don't point me to discipline tactics/ideas. Don't give me verses about being patient. Don't train me or counsel me. Don't sympathize or empathize. Just read. And pray - that I'll take. I'll take your prayers because I've prayed too, and God showed me the answer. It's just hard. God is calling us back to Him. Back to His love and His passion. Back to His heart and His arms. The kiddies need to fall in love with God. That's the answer. Fall in love with God and He will change their hearts, their attitudes, their actions, and their mentally. Fall in love with God. Well...actually, it's not just that the kiddies need to fall in love with God. I kinda sorta - yep, I did - have the impression that I need to bring them back to Him where they can fall in love with Him. You know how it is. You ask God for an answer, and He gives you an assignment.
I feel like I'm about to butt heads with their culture. Remember the game Chicken? Two cars driving full speed head on. The first to flinch or turn away loses. I feel like nobody's turning away, and we're headed to a very messy collision. The victory belongs to the Lord, that I have no doubts on. But I don't know how I'll get out of it alive. Ever have one of those feelings like you're about to go through the wringer? Like you're about to be tested and you're just not sure if you'll pass?
So it boils down to this. I was mad because some of those kids broke a chair. But I reached the end of my straw because it's like they didn't care. We finally have an answered prayer and a beautiful space and they didn't care. Like they kicked the chairs, they kicked any hope that even just a small part of them wants to be there learning about God. At least Nineveh repented when they heard about God. Today's kids have been hearing about God, but culture trains them to stay unaffected. I have a headache.