My name is Robert Payne. I am a Young Harris College intern at Andrews United Methodist Church. My job has been to educate the children through the church curriculum, which has consisted of Bible stories from the creation narrative to the stories of Paul ministry and life. In my surprise, the children have grasped and retained the stories. I originally did not grow up in church and only remembered what my child-state mind deemed cool. So initially going into this position, I only had a small idea of what I would really learn. In an earlier blog post, I talked about All Saints Day, a day in the church where past lives are celebrated and the importance of volunteers (which if you haven’t been in a room full of kids by yourself, are the difference between a good day and leaving with a chip on your shoulder), but I have learned valuable lessons from my time at Andrews United Methodist, too.
The first lesson I have learned is that children can understand very deep topics and trust them more than an adult. I have a kid in my class at church. Let’s call him Bobby. He is an example of a kid who will make your day. Bobby is young, but he treats people with a positive smile on his face. In my current life, I can be totally exhausted from schoolwork and co-curricular activities. My goal is to walk in with a positive attitude, but sometimes I just don’t have one. Bobby, however, is a reminder to me of life’s joy because, no matter what is going on, he continues to smile through it all. This is a lesson I wish I could apply all the time. Another example is a girl I will call Ella. Ella is probably the youngest one I teach, but she astounds me with some of the statements that come out of her untainted mouth. Anyone who is planning to go into children’s ministry for the first time should make note of these examples, because children will blow your mind some days.
The second lesson I’ve learned is that children’s ministry is just as hard as being a leader for a youth group or teaching adults. While children will grasp ideas and stories, I have learned that their vocabulary is not up to par with a high school graduate. In order to communicate the stories to their young minds, you have to be careful not to confuse a kid. For example, I was teaching about Pharisees. However, how many of you could tell me what a Pharisee was? If you thought you couldn’t, you would have the same issue the children had. Instead, I would have to use a word choice such as “Jewish teacher” or “person who taught Jewish rules.” In other words, I have to know the details in order to simplify the words to explain it to the kids. Simplicity is the key.
Lastly, since this will be my last blog post of the year, I would like to thank a few people. The first one I want to thank in Pastor Mary. She does a great job and has a lot of experience that I can learn from. She is patient and kind. God has blessed her with great reason, too. The second group I would like to thank are my volunteers. Dusty, Mary, and Kay are very helpful, and I couldn’t do my job without their help. The next person I would to thank is Joslyn. Joslyn is one of the people who has poured herself into the program, and it is great because of that. I have been blessed to work with her. The next group I would like to the church. You all have welcomed me with love and trust. You embody how a church should treat new people. The last group I would like to thank are the kids. I have learned just as much for you as you have from me (hopefully). I have been blessed to meet all of you.