The 2nd grade boy woke up early Sunday morning. He dressed in the “good clothes” his mom had laid out for him the night before. After breakfast, he grabbed the brand new Bible, forgetting to take off the price tag, as he dashed to the car. Mom said they needed to get there early so they had time to figure out where to go. They were going to church. For the first time. Mom said it was a new year and they needed to start it right.
They found a parking space and walked into the church building. The boy immediately noticed most of the kids his age were wearing jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts sporting their favorite NFL teams. Suddenly, the collar of his dress shirt felt very itchy. A lady helped them find the 2nd grade room, where I serve on Sunday mornings. I introduced the boy to a great Small Group Leader, noting we’d been presented with an opportunity to touch this child. I had no idea.
He seemed to have a good time through Large Group. During Small Group, his leader, just a teen himself, helped the boy find the week’s memory verse in the crisp Bible, explaining about chapters and verses. As he flipped through his Bible, the boy noticed the words written in red, and asked what they meant.
“Well, those are the words that Jesus said,” the Small Group Leader explained.
“No way!” the boy exclaimed. “We know what Jesus said!?! And it’s written right here!?!”
For the rest of the hour, even amidst the chaos of pick-up, the boy studiously read the New Testament. When I checked on him, he told me he was reading “Saint Matthew” and had made it to chapter 5. His family checked out with our greeter before I had the chance to talk with them, but I hope they’ll come back. I’ll be watching for him.
It is so easy for me to forget that, even here in suburban America, there are kids who don’t know the basics. I need to constantly be thinking about the unchurched family that will courageously visit my church on Sunday. How can I make sure they feel welcomed? How can I teach in ways they’ll understand? How can I serve their family even after they leave our building?