Messy Ministry

It’s a typical Wednesday for me. I yawn on my way to work, and I start to think about the tasks that the day entails. It’s Wednesday—my longest day of the week! I take the day to prepare for my evening programming. Before I know it, it is 6 PM and kids are arriving. The volume grows louder and louder, the activity increases greatly, and the energy in the church sky-rockets. Parents drop off their children and head out to get some errands accomplished, the house cleaned, or grab groceries.

The night rolls on like any other night. Kids are learning from God’s Word, memorizing Scripture, building relationships with volunteers, playing with friends, and much more.

As parents come to the classroom to pick up their children, they see the aftermath of a night of Children’s ministry—food crumbs are plentiful, papers are everywhere, children are running around, and joyful yelling and screaming is happening in each room. Each time parents come to pick up children, I wonder if the parents think that the biggest thing accomplished that night was making a mess of the facility and tiring out the wonderful volunteers and leaders. Ultimately, the facility probably does look like a mess. In reality, it could appear as if the night was a wreck. It may, in fact, seem like the only thing that was accomplished was leaving the Children’s pastor with a lot of clean up. I mean, did you see that bathroom? Someone left the sink running again and the floor is covered in water! I know my kids cause quite the mess each time they leave my programming. But, there is oh-so much beauty in the mess!

Ask any parent, elementary school teacher, children’s pastor, daycare worker, janitor, or grandma if kids are messy, and I am positive that their answer will be a firm, YES!

I love working with children. It is my passion and calling. However, they are absolutely wonderful at destroying things the majority of the time. After dismissing children on a Sunday Morning or Wednesday night, I always turn to start cleaning up the mess that is left behind; it sometimes leaves me with a discouraging taste in my mouth. However, I am often reminded of how the Lord works in the messes of life.

Take a look through the stories of Scripture—you will find some disorderly blessings. Joseph’s life was a mess; it was a wreck! He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and put in jail—things weren’t that tidy in Joseph’s life. But, God worked in that mess in a way that could have never been expected! In the end, he ended up saving his father and the brothers that betrayed him from starvation. Joseph’s mess turned into a beautiful story of forgiveness and love.

Too, think of Mary! She was pregnant, but she wasn’t married. She was pledged to be married to Joseph. Would he stay with her?  I’m sure people looked at her and thought, “Wow! Her life is a mess.” I can’t even begin to tell of the greatness of this “mess”! Our glorious Savior came from what seemed like a scandal. The “mess” of Mary’s life became the greatest example of love that we could ever know! Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful mess!

If we take a further glance through Scripture, we will find more examples of stories that started out as a mess. The beauty is that God takes messed up stories, people, and situations and turned them into beautiful testaments of His power, love, grace, and glory.

What messes come to our minds while reading through these last few paragraphs? Do some areas in our lives look like complete wrecks? There are so many people in the midst of a mess who feel there is no hope or light to bring encouragement; thankfully, there is encouragement for those people today! God absolutely loves to take a mess and turn it into something or someone that glorifies Him. Therefore, let us be prayerful. Let us trust Him. Let us put our hope in the only One that truly gives hope. He can make a mess a masterpiece. It may not be in the way that we expect, but it will be more than we could ever imagine. How can we trust God right now in the middle of our messes?

On a night that a bathroom flooded, two young boys asked each other for forgiveness. On a night that a bathroom flooded, children had a genuine and eager desire to hear the Word of God! There is beauty in the mess. There is growth in the mess. There is hope in the mess. Let us cling to Him—the Master of Messy Redemption.

Kayla Knox, Children’s Minister