On a recent blizzardy Sunday morning, I couldn’t get out of my driveway much less to church, so I went to my go-to online church service. This was not a televangelist with all the show-biz trimmings – rather it was live-streamed from a not-very-big church in a sunnier state pastored by a friend who is an excellent expository Bible teacher (and very pro-Awana). If I lived there, I would go there.
And on this particular morning they had a high school girl sing a solo for the special music. She chose Amazing Grace.
I regularly attend a big church. A very BIG church. In fact, you can find it on the list of biggest churches in America. And it is a Bible church and people still bring their Bibles and we hear messages that teach us about God’s Word and are then challenged to make a difference in our community.
All good things.
But my first thought that morning as I watched the nervous high school girl shuffle up to the platform and as I heard her voice crack as she struggled to push past the stage fright – was that she would never, ever be asked to sing at my church. The last time I remember even hearing a soloist – it was a twenty-something who had her master’s degree in voice and had just recorded a song down in Nashville. And she was good. Nashville good.
The girl on the screen stood stiff as a figure in a wax museum as she sang the first verse of the song in a barely audible voice and then waded into the second. Somewhere in that second verse, she missed a note and for the remainder of her solo could not get back on track. But she bravely stumbled to the end, people clapped and the pastor said he remembered when she was born and how great it was to watch her grow up and …
I thought – we’re missing that in most of our churches today. We’re missing the privilege of giving the kids opportunity to use their talents to serve the Lord. I remember hearing many little kids one-finger a piano solo during offertory or for special music. No, not YouTube worthy, but a start to serving the Lord in church …
I know many pastors who first “preached” during a summer Wednesday or Sunday night service when the senior pastor was on vacation. I remember one pastor telling me about his first such sermon – he rambled so long and so monotonously that even his mom fell asleep. (True story.) But today he is a vibrant, dynamic pastor who loves encouraging kids to use their talents for the Lord.
And I know many children’s ministry workers who first worked with children when they were barely old enough to be distinguished from the kids themselves.
I think we’re missing some of that with our mega-churches, mega youth groups, mega kids programs, mega everything …
A survey showed that two thirds of the opportunities for kids to use their talents come at school. Shouldn’t we be providing those opportunities at church?
Mega or even semi-mega is fine. (Like I said, I attend one of those churches myself.) However, in designing everything to be bigger and better – let’s not forget to give the little and not-so-noteworthy “members” of our churches opportunity to serve the Lord by using their talents. No, not every young soloist or guitar player in a 3,000 member church can be on the platform, but where do they have an opportunity to use their talents?
Can they sing a solo in children’s church?
Strum their guitar in Awana?
Play the flute for the missions’ meeting?
How about a Journey teen giving the Large Group Lesson for Sparks?
How about that young artist designing the kids’ ministry section of the church webpage?
How about that outgoing high school kid ushering?
1 Timothy 4:12 reads that young people are to be an example in their conduct … Paul is writing about the Christian walk, but isn’t serving the Lord through talents part of that walk?
I don’t know how that nervous teen felt about her solo, but I do know the congregation was 100% behind her. I am sure they encouraged her after the service. I know she knew they “had her back” (and I’m guessing next time she sings, she’ll be a lot less panicky.)
Our churches can be intentional about encouraging our pastoral staff, our missionaries and even our communities –
let’s also be intentional about encouraging our kids.
Does your church give kids opportunity to use their talents?