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From the Editor -
Patricia Sheets
We are the Church
Featured Article
ChurchThere’s a Crisis in the Church!
By Pat Sheets

There is a problem that I suspect plagues every church in the United States, and possibly other nations as well. The blight spans all denominations and its affects are felt in both small fellowships and large congregations. The problem is not feeding the hungry or warming the homeless. The problem is finding workers for the children’s department.

I was reminded of the problem during a planning meeting at our church. Someone mentioned the need for volunteers to help with children’s church and within seconds I thought the Battle of Armageddon had erupted. I heard everything from, "I’m too old" to "I think I’m allergic to kids." The consensus of the group was almost unanimous: Nobody wanted to work with the children.

In all honesty, I was on board with the diaper dodgers as I listened to the tales of horrifying experiences with children. My mind wandered back to my first experience working with children.

As a new Christian, I was honored when the pastor approached me and asked if I would be willing to work with the first and second graders.
Dealing with Difficult People
By Barbara Y. Stuart, Ph.D.

It may seem incredible, but difficult people are in the local church. Usually, they are quick to point out another person’s faults (Matthew 7), but overlook their own condition. Difficult people in the church are among gossipers, talebearers, and slanderers, those who cause divisions, the unruly, and the disobedient. They spread discord and cause contentions and conflicts among church members.

What Threats Do Difficult People Pose to The Church?

Difficult people pose some of the greatest threats to the church because they will sabotage its mission. What many Christians fail to understand is that the church is always on public display, that is why Jesus told us, "You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-17).

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The truth was, he had already asked everyone else in the church and they had declined, but I was unaware of the task before me and eagerly obliged.

On my first Sunday, I entered the classroom with my lesson prepared and ready to go. It just so happened that the preacher’s son, Brian, was among the group. Brian was six years old, going on thirty, and very eager to share his biblical knowledge. "Today’s lesson is about the coat of many colors," he informed me.

"No, I am going to teach about David and Goliath," I said through a forced smile.

"You can’t. You must follow the official Southern Baptist Sunday School Guide. My dad said so. Today the whole church is supposed to learn about the coat of many colors." Brian insisted.

I snatched the booklet from his hands and sure enough, it was indeed "Coat of Many Colors" Sunday. Thinking quickly, I came up with a plan. I’d simply tell the story as I remembered it from Vacation Bible School, then have the class glue pieces of colored paper together in the shape of a coat.

"Okay," I said. "Let’s all gather around the table to hear a story. Once upon a time there was a young boy named Jacob. His mother loved him very much, so she made a coat for him…"

"Mrs. Pat," Brian interrupted. "His name was Joseph, not Jacob."

I glared at Brian. "No, Brian dear. Joseph was Mary’s husband."

Brian smugly persisted, "They were both named Joseph."

I was beginning to wonder if perhaps my memory from Vacation Bible School had faded, but logic prevailed and I asked, "Brian, do you really think God would put two Josephs in the Bible? Don’t you think that would confuse us?"

Just as Brian was about to answer, I looked up and realized that the pastor had entered the room and heard part of my conversation with the child genius. "Mrs. Pat, how about if I help out today," he said as he snatched the class right out from under me!

As soon as Sunday school ended, I grabbed my husband by the arms and led him to the car. "We’re never setting foot in that church again!" I declared.

"Why? What happened?" he asked as we drove from the parking lot.

"They are teaching false doctrine!" I accused. "They believe there were two Josephs in the Bible!"

My husband, Jack, glanced at me from the corner of his eye. "You mean Joseph the husband of Mary, and Joseph with the coat of many colors?"

"Oh, no! They got to you, too!" I shouted, but Jack was insistent that there were, indeed, two men named Joseph in the Bible.

"But, why would God do that? Two Josephs? That’s too confusing. I guess you’re going to tell me there are two Johns in the Bible, also! And what’s with all the "J" names, anyway? There’s Judas, Jeremiah, Jacob, Jesus … it’s too confusing! I just can’t take it!" I cried.

By the next Sunday, however, I had settled down and was ready to tackle the class again. This time I had studied the lesson and was ready to face Brian the Baptist face-to-face. As I approached the classroom door, the pastor and Sunday school director were waiting in the hallway. I recognized the looks on their faces and said, "Brian ratted me out, didn’t he?"

The pastor politely informed me that it was not Brian who had spilled the beans, but Jack. "Not to worry, though. We think you would do a fine job with the three and four-year-old class," he said.

I contemplated for a moment, then agreed. After all, I had a lesson about David and Goliath prepared, so I excitedly took off to teach the toddlers.

I arrived in the classroom just as some men in white suits finished strapping the former teacher to a gurney. I looked at her withered face as they carried her from the room. "What happened to her?" I asked.

"Don’t know. She just keeps screaming something about ‘Satan Siblings’," one of the medics said.

"Poor old thing! She was just too old for the job," I said.

"She is only twenty-seven!" he said as he carried her from the building.

I mustered up my courage, went into the room and came face to face with Jeffrey and Jonathan, a.k.a., "The Satan Siblings". Their clothes were tattered and both boys were dirty. Jeffrey’s hair was sticking out as if he had put his finger in a light socket. "What happened to your hair?" I asked.

"Jonathan put me in the dryer," he nonchalantly answered.

I was shocked. "Jonathan, why would you put your brother in the dryer?" I scolded.

"Because, it was his turn!" Jonathan responded.

"You’re not tall enough to reach the microwave, are you?" I asked, hesitant to hear the answer.

Jonathan ignored my question and ran to join a group of his peers who had gathered at the window. I followed to see what all the commotion was about and saw a young child with a bare bottom waddling through the parking lot. "Does anyone know that kid?" I asked.

"Yeah, that’s Suzy," answered one of the kids. "She’s going home, ‘cause she poopied in her pants."

"What? How did she get out?" I shrieked.

"She crawled out the window, to get away from the flood," a little voice said.

"Flood? What flood?" One of the kids pointed to a door in the back of the room. I reluctantly walked to the door and slowly opened it, releasing a wave of water.

Pandemonium followed. One kid started crying because his feet were wet, another kid put his face in the water and started to drink, and some kid ran into the hallway screaming, "Help! Mrs. Pat’s trying to drown us."

I was startled from my nightmare and back to the present when someone said, "We don’t need Children’s Church! Make ‘em stay in the service and suffer with the rest of us!"

Before I could agree with the gentlemen who made the statement, my grandson came into my mind. Even though he is just a toddler, he is reactive to his environment. Since the separation of his parents, he is sometimes angry and incorrigible. That doesn’t make him a bad kid. It just makes him a kid reacting to stress in the only way he knows.

As the church, we must not forget that our mission is not only to help the single parent, the drug addicted mother, or the alcoholic father. We are also called to mentor, care for, and love their children. Anything less is not of God. Matthew 19:14 is very clear on the matter: "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." (NLT)

The discussion ended without a clear resolution, most people standing firm on their commitment to serve or not to serve in the children’s department. As for me, however, I realized that in order to go to Jesus, children must first meet Him. It is a blessing, not a job, to make that introduction.

Look out kids, here I come!
Pat Sheets is a freelance writer with an offbeat sense of humor. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the three men in her life: Jack, her husband, is a pastor. Duncan and Barkley are pound-saved mutts but none-the-less, her "boys".