In Honor of Small Country Churches and Those Who Teach There
We missed the turn.
A u-turn later. A dirt and gravel road veering off the county highway. Over the railroad tracks. Turn right. Down a dusty road. There it was.
The site of the Johnson family reunion. Bolton Friends Church. Cars piled around it. Welcoming all to come inside.
That day I saw lots of family. A few more wrinkles here and there. A few faces I had never met. Fried chicken, potato salad and chocolate cake covered the red-checkered table cloths. Conversation filled the room. Unsure glances wondering whom exactly that person was. Who they belonged to.
There was the five generation picture. My grandma, mom, sister, niece and great niece. Those are rare.
There was the surprise. My sister and me sneaking into the church with not a single family member knowing we were coming. We came from the farthest places- Chattanooga and Minneapolis- meeting in Kansas City and driving south for the big surprise.
There were discoveries of where lives had twisted and turned since last we saw each other.
And there was this. My aunt just four years older than me. . . with joy on her face talking about the kid’s days and the cruise ship and building on sand and building on rock and the kids bounding into the church and through the church.
That stuck with me.
Something holy and pure and sweet happened in those moments. We think we must do it all right. The building. The signage. The methods. But really so many of us working in kid’s ministry do not have that.
The fact is while megachurches are the ones getting the headlines, the buzz, and often setting the course for kid’s ministry, they are only one small part of a big picture. One piece that brings kids into God’s kingdom.
It’s those in little white churches, stone churches, brick churches. It’s those who show up Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Or maybe Wednesday. Or Saturday. Whatever day. They show up. And they teach. And model. And pour their hearts into the handful of kids that pour into the church eager to learn.
So today we stop and remember those who minister in small tucked away places. Let’s honor the commitment. The dedication. The desire to see the kids in these places grow and learn about grace, forgiveness and love. Let’s not forget that as much as we love projectors, computers and fog machines. . . that a good imagination, a willing heart and a love for kids can get the same results. And that is exactly what happens week after week in places like Bolton, Kansas, an old whistle stop depot town comprised of a handful of houses, a railroad track and a little stone church.