First, let me say on the front end that my entire adult life has been devoted to caring for children. My day job is school nursing and I love to be around children. Second, as a Lay Speaker, I am (relatively) fearless and unafraid, prayed up and prepared.
Why then am I so afraid of the children’s message- the longest stretch of unscripted and unpredictable time in front of a congregation?
Is it a fear that the children will say random things that have nothing to do with the topic?
Is it because I’m pretty sure children don’t understand object lessons, even though entire libraries and websites have been devoted to comparing deep things of faith to objects you can find at Target?
Am I afraid because sometimes the children know more than I do?
Wherever the fear comes from, it is real.
This past month I volunteered to share the children’s message at my church five weeks in a row (yes, I counted). I had a theme, some bullet points and sweet children.
Here’s how it went:
I have no idea what I said during the first and second messages.
I hyperventilated 3 out of the five weeks.
It did get easier and I was very happy when week number five was over.
I was reminded of two things:
It is so easy to be in the congregation. Being in the congregation is a vacation, sitting relatively passively watching other people do hard things.
It’s humbling to be up in front, but an opportunity to trust God in the moment.
Did I get better? Well, I got better at accepting that I may always be a little anxious about unscripted moments in front of congregations. And that’s okay, because church is not a show and I am not the star. I am a servant--a Lay Servant. To God be the Glory.
Julie Schropp is a lay speaker and serves as the Kansas City District director of lay servant ministries. Her home church is Leawood United Methodist Church.