Monday, 28 February 2011

Blogging 'In the Jungle...'

My rather limited blogging needs to regain some momentum...

So last week was holiday club, definitely an event of the year. I just love holiday clubs, my whole work life is just about building up to the next holiday club. This half term was entitled 'In the Jungle', based on the theme of exploration. Exploring key Christian thoughts from the Bible, fitted around Paul's life story of exploring the world with the sole purpose to tell them about Jesus.

Say sanctification to most Christian adults and what reaction do you get? Shock horror, confusion and fear sticks to their face as they feel that because they are a Christian they should know what it means but it's a big word. So try telling adults wh
o are doing your talks at holiday club for children and you want them to talk about Sanctification, redemption, adoption and Salvation. Tell you what it was worth it for the reaction. The thing is I feel that we do a child an injustice when we don't tell them things, in fact I read in a book by a guy called Keavan that:
“Teachers of religion have become possessed by the notion that young people do not have a readiness for complete catechesis in Christian doctrine”
And it's not just me that thinks this, one of my lecturers from college described it as 'us belittling children's view of God under ours'. We spend so much time protecting our children from the knowledge of drugs, drink and sex, does God come into the same category?

So with my hopefully God inspired theme I set about explaining to the children key Christian doctrines. I can safely say we had fun, despite gorilla tears, but all doctrine covered - oh of course I didn't actually use the jargon, e.g. Sanctification, just explained the concept - memory verse taught, Bible read, songs sung, drama done, tree houses made and my conclusion is...

I survived the first holiday club I've run properly on my own, with no co-worker to bounce ideas off, I did it. Yes, there are things that I would change straight away. The leaders didn't have name stickers on, I wanted the parents to have cards at the end of each day so they knew what we'd done but they didn't get done, I definately didn't give those leaders enough leaders challenges.

I guess one thing I found hard were the lack of time I have with the leaders and the fact that some just don't turn up at all with no excuse, no text, call or email. This isn't helpful when you have a church hall full of children that need entertaining safely. Plus there is not enough time to prepare the leaders for every eventuality. How can you give the kids (and the parents) the best possible experience, learn lots about God, are safe and generally enjoy the experience. The conclusion is that it is actually impossible. No amount of organisation and preparation can realistically prepare you for what happens when you get a bunch of adults with a large variety of gifts together with 60 plus children who are all different from each other. Basically all you need to do is trust God, without making it sound flippant, that is actually what you have to do. Therefore running a holiday club and being a control freak and Christian is, well, interesting.

The other thing I find hard is knowing that there are hundreds of children bouncing of walls in homes in Aberystwyth and an equal number of parents tearing hair out because it's half term and they have nothing to do with their kids. HELLO, free holiday club! I am actually willing to take on crazy children, that's fine with me, that's what I here to do. Although I often wonder if God not only gives us what we can cope with but what our resources can cope with. I am not totally sure we could fit any more kids into our hall so until we magically grow or gain a new space that's it.

There were so many encouragements from holiday club this year. We had incredible answers to prayer in the small and big things:

1. Craft. I knew which craft I wanted to do on the last day, something which I am going to attribute to God. I was certain, snake pen holders, I just knew it. The only problem was how? I mean ok, kitchen roll tubes would work, yoghurt pots, all fine but they would look soooo rubbish. Kids just don't do craft in the same ways these days, they don't take time over them and they are just never really good enough and they are never really bothered by them. So I waited. Then came phone call from a friend of mine who works for the welsh assembly wanting to get rid of some old promotional material like Frisbees, keyrings and pens because it was old and had incorrect details on it. So I trundle down to the Aberystwyth industrial estate to see the assemblies more recent glasshouse to go in search of Frisbees, pens and keyrings - cause that's what you do as a Children's Pastor! Just in case you think I've acquired a plane and flew there (from the picture below), I haven't, it's false advertising.

After locating the office and the correct people I was loaded up with Frisbees, pens, keyrings... and there's more...mouse mats, and wait for it... Pen holders (which I stupidly haven't taken a picture of). Incredible, flat pack pen holders, the main part of which is a rectangle of plastic that wraps around a base and a rim, one side is promotion the other just black, plain, perfect for my idea and suitable to curl a snake around.

2. Answer to prayer number two was the amount of children. Usually our holiday clubs attract around sixty plus children. On the Friday before we only had 30 children registered. So I got people to pray particularly our Friday night prayer meeting. I wanted sixty at least! Tuesday morning came and I was ready for sixty but still only had 30 registered - but full of hope I opened the doors and let the little sproglets in. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... after 40 minutes of registering - twice as long as it normally takes - we had... 60 kids. Oh yes, prayers answered.

There are so many more answers to prayer that week, leaders offering to help more because they'd enjoyed it so much, new friendships made, kept safe but of course the main joy of the week was seeing 6 kids decide that they wanted to become friends of Jesus, what more can I say!