Some time ago, a friend of mine–we’ll call her Mary, was summoned to the pastor’s office for a meeting. From the pastor’s tone, Mary sensed that she’d made some sort of mistake but the pastor refused to give her any information over the phone. Prior to the impromptu meeting, Mary had never been called into the office before so she spent the whole night stewing over the possibilities.
Should I have given Ashley that prize even though she hadn’t earned it?
Did some parent catch me in a hurry and feel slighted?
Did I buy the wrong snack or forget to put the stapler back?
Mary is a worrier because she loves people. The notion that she may offend someone hurts her deeply. The next morning, Mary arrived at the appointed time and took her seat in the pastor’s office. They exchanged pleasantries until the pastor asked “How are things going in children’s church?”
Naturally, Mary answered, “Fine!” Then she began to share with the pastor some of the highlights from the past few weeks. She began to tell how God ministered to the children in the worship service. Kids were hungry for God and they were asking questions. “One child asked about the return of Jesus so we spent a few minutes talking about that…”
“Stop right there. That’s a problem,” the pastor told her.
“You can’t teach kids about the rapture.”
“Oh, I didn’t do that. Anna didn’t ask about that. She asked if Jesus was coming back. We talked about that.” Mary smiled nervously, feeling her stomach get queasy.
“Whatever you call it, you can’t teach that. The end of the world is never an appropriate subject for children’s church.”
Mary couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She tried to explain herself. “No, pastor. I didn’t teach about the end of the world or the rapture. I didn’t even prepare a lesson. The child asked a question because she heard a song. You know the song, People get ready, Jesus is coming… that one. Then the whole class wanted to know.”
“You can’t teach that here.” For the next fifteen minutes, Mary listened in stunned silence. It never occurred to her that teaching kids about the return of Jesus would be so controversial. She’d been careful not to present it as a scary event. The kids had received it and loved hearing the news. Mary left confused, feeling as if she’d stepped through the proverbial Looking Glass.
For the next few weeks Mary prayed over the conversation. She consulted a friend in ministry, someone who did not attend her church. She read the bible over and over. In the end, my friend left the church quietly two months later. She worked out her two months notice and helped train her replacement but it was all done peaceably. Today, God has opened over doors for her and she serves in ministry in new and exciting ways.
At our last coffee, Mary seemed so happy. She confessed that she didn’t know how important the return of Jesus was to her until her faith was tried in that area.
Please understand. This isn’t a message about the rapture or the return of Jesus. It’s about standing up for what you, personally, believe. On one hand we can’t let doctrinal points cause us to fall out with our brothers and sisters but don’t give way on your core beliefs. Even if it means you have to make a change.
You can do it and you are not alone.
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.