Jesus or squirrel?

When I came for interview for my current job as Children and Families worker several people in the church mentioned the desire to see a midweek children’s club started and it so happened that that was first on my agenda too after a brief period of settling in.

And so, last September, JESUS AND ME (JAM) Club was launched on Tuesdays. We started with 3 very keen church children and about 6 leaders (good ratios!) and over last term we steadily grew to 10 children on the books by Christmas, and a couple more leaders too!

It was so exciting to see what happens when you take a great concept and allow God to grow it. It was never going to grow fast and that’s fine. I marketed the club as a specifically Christian one, and in today’s world where there are so many clubs competing for children’s attention and time, I knew it would take a bit of time for word to get out. I never recall having that many clubs to go to as a child. We had ‘Brownies’, if we were lucky. It’s great there’s so much for kids nowadays but hopefully there’s also time and space for them just to be kids as well!

Anyhow, over Christmas I was recalling with gratitude  how God has grown the little group on a Tuesday over the past term. It was ALL Him. He gave me the material ideas to do, before half term we did Treasure Box, which really works for children with some prior knowledge of God, and we only had church kids. Then after half term we spent time looking at some of the cool stuff Jesus did in his early ministry as told by Mark. The Lord showed me before half term that as I did that He would bring in some children from outside the church and sure enough at our Light Cafe one boy expressed and interest in coming along.

All it takes is one person.

One person who comes along, enjoys himself, and tells his friend about it at school the next day.

The next week he brings his friend along, who also enjoys it and they bring younger siblings the next week.

Later in the term these same children bring more school friends.

Children are natural evangelists. If they like it, they’ll tell others. It’s wonderfully simple!

Anyway, we’ve launched into this term with a new series about ‘Encounters with the King’ and this week we learnt about following Jesus and what it means to be a disciple. They all knew the answers, but then maybe they knew that I was looking for the answer ‘Jesus’.

Which reminds me of a story I once heard:

‘One Sunday a pastor was using squirrels for an object lesson for the children. He started, “I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.” The children nodded eagerly.

“This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)…” No hands went up. “And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)…” The children were looking at each other nervously, but still no hands raised. “It jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it’s excited (pause)…”

Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor quickly called on him. “Well,” said the boy, “I know the answer must be ‘Jesus’ … but it sure sounds like a squirrel!”‘


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