Love and Popsicle Sticks
Written by Christina Yantis
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children..." Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)
Before my family came to Crossroads the year I started middle school, I had spent my childhood in small, more traditional churches. The Sunday School classes I attended often only had two or three kids, and sometimes it was just me. What I remember most about Sunday School isn't the Bible stories we heard, the prayers we spoke, the games we played, or the snacks we ate. No, what I remember most is: (1) I made a lot of random crafts with glue and popsicle sticks; (2) the ladies who taught the classes were always loving and kind to me. Those women loved God, believed in what they taught, and allowed me to experience the love of Jesus through them. Over the years, I've often seen them in the community and they've still greeted me with a warm smile and taken the time to stop and chat.
I started teaching Sunday School in Crossroads Kids when I was in high school and continued through college. I loved spending time with the children and being able to engage with them in creative ways to bring the Bible stories to life. Since there were two services, I was able to teach during one and worship during the other. In recent years, I was attending and periodically teaching Sunday School at a different church, but when I came back to Crossroads last year I was excited to have the opportunity to return to Crossroads Kids as well. Since there was a shortage of teachers, I hesitantly agreed to teach every Sunday instead of once or twice a month. I wanted to support the new vision for our Children's Ministry, however I was concerned that I might have over-committed. But to what better use did I think I could put that time on Sunday morning? Grabbing one extra hour of sleep? Squeezing in one more household chore? I decided to go for it and see how it went.
As I got to know the precious children in the 2nd-3rd Grade class, 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings quickly became one of my favorite times. Surprisingly, I found myself actually looking forward to it during the work week. I was excited to discover that the lessons required only minimal preparation, all of the supplies and materials were waiting in the classroom, and the activities were fun, creative, and easy to lead.
I was astounded by the incredible level of support the teachers received from the Children's Ministry leadership. I was also astounded by the children: they were compassionate, inventive, hilarious and insightful. I looked forward to seeing them every week and missed them when we didn't have class. They amazed me with their enthusiasm for taking turns reading aloud from the Bible, their ability to memorize and recite scripture, their understanding of the parables that Jesus taught, their capacity for spiritual conversation, and their heartfelt prayers. Each time I sat down with them to begin a lesson, I felt so privileged and humbled to be entrusted with teaching them about God. It is truly a sacred trust.
As they travel through life, I hope that these children will remember some of the Bible stories and verses that they've learned, some of the deep truths we've shared about God and about how to love one another. I hope that they will continue to be involved in a church and will pursue their own spiritual development. Mostly, though, I hope that coming to church stands out as a positive experience in their childhood and that, like me, they can look back and know that they experienced the love of Jesus through their teachers. Even as they wander, that is something they can always carry with them.
Teaching Sunday School certainly isn't for everyone or for every season of your life. But for me, right now, this is where I feel called by God to serve within our Crossroads community. In fact, I was so attached to the 2nd-3rd Grade class from last year that I decided to move up with them to the next grade level this fall and have enthusiastically signed up for every Sunday. I'm looking forward to another successful year of Crossroads Kids! Maybe we'll even make something with Popsicle sticks.