< < This is pretty much how I have spent quite a bit of my time here at church over the last several days. Not listening to Sigur Ros (although that might keep me calm and centered during some of the hectic times around here) but painting…

We recently had a staff member leave the church. While his departure was kind of sticky (isn’t it always?), this presents our church with an opportunity to redirect some of what we have been doing and to reconsider what we are all about.

Part of our new direction is rediscovering the importance of ministry to children. Our church has so many wonderful, devoted people — but there has not really been anyone to champion children’s ministry. As a result, the kids’ ministry has mostly been maintenance and baby-sitting. Thankfully, our senior pastor has been very supportive as we have begun planting the idea of how vital it is for our kids to discover God’s love and to learn to live for Him. I’m reminded of one of those kind-of-corny ministry anecdotes where an old-time revival preacher was asked how his latest tent meeting went. He replied that three and a half people were saved. The original questioner then said, “That’s wonderful — three adults and one child!” to which the preacher responded, “No, it was three children and one adult” (and, rimshot!).

This past Sunday, we moved our Pre/K group out of the tiny room into which over twenty of them had been crammed (“Jump, jump, jump into the light, light, light… but don’t crush, crush, crush your neighbor!”) and over into a much larger room. Now they have room for interactive learning centers, dynamic action praise songs and room to hop around — all with a much lower percentage chance of causing bodily harm to a friend! But the room, though it was called a “multi-purpose” room, was really just kind of a big, empty, boring space. So, as part of creating a kid-friendly environment, we have been painting and redesigning the space.

I don’t mind painting or cleaning in the church most of the time.  In fact, I find repetitive tasks, like washing dishes or vacuuming, to be kind of therapeutic — up to a certain point, at least.  But I find myself pushing back a little bit when people expect pastors to perform menial tasks — as if this was some proof of humility.  A friend once half-jokingly observed that the qualifications for becoming a youth pastor in Korean American churches seemed to be the ability to drive a passenger van, play between three and seven chords on the guitar, and carry heavy things.

It must be because I still look pretty young (it was only a couple years ago that I was mistaken for a high school football player!), but I sometimes catch a “you still need to pay your dues” vibe from people — despite driving vans and carrying heavy things for the past twelve years or so in youth ministry.

But, if painting a room can make kids feel like they have a place in our church and say, in some small way, that we believe in children’s ministry then I am happy to paint the days away.