Children’s Ministry: Smores and Analogies

Children’s sermons during worship services are not my forte. I don’t have a commanding or quieting presence…the kids seem to know this as well and have a tendency to “do their own thing,” i.e. chat among themselves or to take over and preach their own sermons sometimes 🙂 I love it and can’t help but laugh most of the time – which probably doesn’t help my situation. But there is a part of me that has never really cared honestly…I have something to say, usually that I have prepared the week before, but I know they have something to say, too, and they’re probably much more theologically interesting and compelling than I am…

All this is to say that I’ve always struggled with what’s the “best” or most effective way to talk about God in worship during this specific time. A couple of pastors have told me that trying to teach by analogy isn’t the best way because most of the children – developmentally – aren’t quite there yet in terms of making connections between everyday-stuff and God-stuff. This past Sunday someone had come in from the Presbytery’s camp to talk about summer camp, and she used smores as the object lesson to talk about faith in God (i.e. the graham cracker represents something foundational, the chocolate represents something fun, the fire is the Holy Spirit maybe etc. I can’t remember everything exactly because taking care of the babies has depleted much of my brain cells). I thought it was thoughtful and clever, and although I doubt that the kids understood the connection (could they see past the chocolate?) it still seemed like a good way to plant seeds. It was definitely a nice marketing strategy for getting kids to camp especially since she had a table in the narthex that would have smores for the children to have after worship.

Even though some might feel like it’s too reductionistic to talk about faith in these terms, I think that the divine and sacred are best articulated by the normal-ordinary stuff of life…like Jesus did in his parables. Sure, the parables aren’t always so easily straight forward but the entrance to the divine was earthly and earthy. So even if kids can’t make the connection right away, I think they will in the future. And I have to give a lot of our kids credit…they’re so super smart, and comprehend way more than we give them credit…I think the key is to be really honest and intentional and let it spark more dialogue with the little ones.