As a children and families worker, for me the summer holidays – with the distinct lack of kids – can be a strange time.
But when I think of what makes this time of year particularly distinct, what sticks with me is the term “moving up”. During their time at school every July children and young people will begin the process of “moving up” to the next school year in September.
This also applies to my work. I have been in this role for just over two-and-a-half years now, and this is the first time we will have a cohort of children “moving up” to our youth groups in September.
They have hit an age or stage in life where they have outgrown the various children’s groups and are ready for our youth groups. In many ways it is similar to the move from primary school to secondary school.
For me this brings up two things: will their faith stick and what does “moving up” actually look like in our church? Both these things carry a certain amount of pressure for me; they could very easily be seen as markers for how well I am doing my job, not just by the church but for myself as well. If I see it this way, though, I am forgetting that this job and my work with children aren’t all about me and what I can achieve, but about God and what he can do.
Although we have a part to play, a child’s faith — as with everyone’s — comes down to their own personal relationship with the Father. As much as we may want to be the middle man there comes a point where we have to let go of the control and trust that God has it in hand.
Both at work and in my own life this is one of the hardest things I have to do. In a society where we aspire to the ability to be in control, it isn’t easy to let someone else be in charge.
Our ability to trust in God, though, is the ultimate outworking of our faith. It is because of our faith that we choose to keep trusting in Him. So if I want our children to grow in their faith, I have to lead by example. I need to trust that God is at work in their lives and in their relationships with Him.
A few weeks ago I was sat chatting to one of the children at my church at the end of a shared lunch. She turned to me and said: ”Sometimes God shows me pictures, how does he speak to you?”
I feel very privileged and excited that through my work I get to be a witness to some of the things God is doing in our children’s lives and to see how he is using them in this world.
As to my second thought – what does “moving up” look like for our church – I guess we will have to wait and see.