“Ma’am! Ma’am!” I heard someone shouting behind me, as I walked to my car in the packed parking lot. “You forgot your purse!” I turned to see what was going on and came face to face with one of the customers who had been in line with me at the store.
“You left this,” he said breathlessly, as he handed me my purse. I had so many purchases in my hands that I hadn’t even noticed that I had forgotten it.
“Thank you!” I took the purse from him, both amazed that I could have forgotten such an important thing and grateful that there was someone kind enough to bring it to me after I’d completely left the store.
Acts of kindness are usually not big. They don’t take up much time or a lot of effort, but they leave a trace where ever they go. Just like a tiny piece of glitter, that gets stuck in the spine of a book or the crease of a sofa cushion or the groove of a wooden chair.
That analogy came from one of my mother’s friends and like all good analogies, it has been passed from person to person, leaving a new way to see an ordinary thing. That too, reminds me of how glitter works. Each little piece gets stuck to something and carried across the room, out the door, into the car, over to your friends’ house, where it lands and settles into the crease in her sofa cushion.
Ministry can be a little like kindness…and glitter. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a series of small things that you do on a daily basis, all driven by the same simple idea - share God’s love with everyone, whenever you can.
Even the grandest worship experience delivered by a professional pastor and seasoned worship team doesn’t stay with you in its entirety. Small pieces of it follow you out the door and live in your heart waiting for the right moment to inspire you again.
Jesus’ ministry did not take place in a big cathedral. He spoke to large crowds sometimes, but he didn’t have a sound system or a projector screen. Many of the moments when Jesus taught his greatest lessons were in someone’s home or a one-on-one conversation with a person who was hurting.
Jesus said things like…
“…rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Mark 2:11
“…Daughter your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34
“…Little girl, I say to you arise.” Mark 5:41
He empowered people to be whole and confident in their faith. He made friends with sinners and poor people. He touched lepers and ate in the homes of tax collectors. His ministry was about delivering God’s message to individual people where ever they happened to be.
Each of us can be a minister to those around us. When we take part in the worship service at our church the things we do that will make a difference to other people will be the small things. We could give an engaging meditation, read the scripture perfectly, capture the children’s attention with our worship story or run the audio/visual system without a glitch. Those are all things to feel good about, but our impact on other people will likely be the caring thing we said as we greeted someone or how we remembered someone’s preference in the way we set up the microphones, so their job was easier.
Children’s ministry is less about presenting worship experiences and teaching lessons, than it is about sharing our experience with Christ and giving kids a way to understand their own relationship with God. When planning your part of the worship experience, don’t just focus on what you want people to get from your presentation, focus on what they might need to hear. Care for each child in your congregation. Pray for them; ask to be what they need.
When all is said and done, don’t forget to let God do the real work. He will take the glitter you have spread around and use it to grow strong, faith-filled individuals who will in turn, carry glitter to others, some who may not yet know his great love.