Lessons from the Kresge Kids
By SHARON YANCEY
“And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain.” -- Isaiah 25:6
They started praying weeks before the van left to pick up children who had been invited to Anna Kresge UMC in Cedartown. They weren't sure who would be waiting to get on it, but get on it they did. Kresge had an all too common problem: few children were attending their church. But a committed group, including several senior adults, decided to extend the table and reach out to children not reached by any church. The van returned loaded with children, and then went back out for even more children waiting to come.
On a June summer evening, Kresge went from an average of 10 children to 40! The church now welcomes 65 children, and pastor Rebecca Holmes tells me adult attendance is growing too. Three vans go out each week, including the van from nearby Aragon UMC. Has it been perfect? Hardly. Have these children increased worship attendance or giving? The jury is still out. But lives have been forever changed, including the adults who now consider Wednesdays the highlight of their week.
I offer some lessons learned from the Kresge Kids; they offer unique insights on those who are not yet at the table.
It starts with prayer: Prayer makes the impossible, suddenly possible. Wesley was right, God is for us. Are we praying like we believe that?
Children are important to God: They are Jesus’ future church. Do whatever it takes to make them a priority ministry. The church they inherit will be very different from the one we know today. We are going to have to do things differently.
Senior adults are a powerful resource: When brought into process to become change agents, they will amaze us. They care about their ministry legacy.
There are children in your community not being reached by anyone: Ask God to show you where they are. Your church may be the only church they can walk or get to. Be a lighthouse for children who don’t know what a Bible is or if Jesus is just someone they heard about from their mother’s new boyfriend.
It is all about the kids: Is Sunday the best day, or would Wednesday be a better day? For Kresge, it was Wednesday evening. For the unchurched, and for many in the fold, Sunday mornings are just hard. We have some work to do on why church matters.
Adam Hamilton recently stated: The future of our church is in the hands of those can communicate with 5 and 10 year olds. Well said, and I too want our church to have a hope and a future. Meanwhile, the vans keep rolling out on Wednesday’s and Kresge is changing their community.
Thank you Kresge Kids; glad you found your place at the Lord’s table. May God give us the courage to make room for all of the others not yet there.
Sharon Yancey is founder of The Matthew Initiative, a non-profit foundation that provides the seed funding and staff expertise to help new churches and churches who need to grow again, start a dynamic children's ministries program. Contact her at Yancey.Sharon@gmail.com.