Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple

I’m going to begin this post by venting a little.  Usually I vent first, find the humor, then go to the keyboard. But I haven’t found the humor yet.

Since I homeschool my kids, and lead an Awana group at church during the week, I don’t spend nearly enough time with children.

So I recently started volunteering my time to teach Sunday School every other week.

If you don’t know me well, I’m being facetious.  Because of my high-strung nature, I may very well be spending far too much time in a position of teaching.  Enter the Extra-strength Excedrin.

Anyhoo.

A hot button issue with me and childcare at church, is the area of security.  One of the reasons that we joined our church is because we love that they have a heart for the children, have a children’s pastor that has a heart for the children, and they CARE about the children’s well being.  And have security measures in place to make sure that parents can feel secure about entrusting their offspring to the ministry workers.

I dearly love my church.

When children are checked in to their classes, they wear a name tag with a corresponding number that matches the one their parents bring with them to pick the children up.  Since I just started teaching this particular class, I’m not familiar yet with which parents match up to what children.

On Sunday, I had a dad come to pick up his daughter early.  I had run into him a few minutes before when I escorted two of my girls from my class down to the drinking fountain.  He exchanged a few words with one of the girls, leading me to assume it was his daughter.  He did not say a word to me.

So when he showed up at the classroom early to pick up his child, I asked him if he had her tag number with him.  He was clearly put out that I would ask, and said in a rather surly tone, “No, do I need to go find it?” I said to wait just a second, and I was going to ask my co-teacher if she knew that was the girl’s dad and it was okay to release her to him.  Before I had a chance to check, he said brusquely, “I’ll just leave her.” The little girl had all her things and clearly wanted to leave with him, so I quickly asked my co-teacher, and she said absolutely yes, that was the girl’s dad and it was okay.

I told the little girl to have a great week and off they went.  The father left without saying a word to me.

I was a mad little hornet.

The security measures are in place TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN.  How dare him act as though it was an inconvenience for me to ask him for the tag.  And btw, I LEFT MY 3 CHILDREN AT HOME WITH THEIR DAD BECAUSE THEY ARE STILL COUGHING, TO COME AND TEACH YOUR CHILD!

And besides, I knew of a church that released a child to a non-custodial parent, the church was sued, and they lost everything.  So there.

All this was swirling around in my head.  While I attempted to focus on the virtue we were teaching the rest of the children.

Compassion.

How to look around us and recognize the needs of others.

While I was griping about my time at Sunday School with Fiddledaddy, he reminded me of a few things.

The church is kind of like an emergency room.  Full of broken people.  We absolutely cannot look solely to each other for any kind of spiritual fulfillment or encouragement.  That’s only going to come from the One who came to earth without blemish.  The One who died for our sins.  The One who endured that suffering so that we can enjoy eternal life.  Even though we absolutely do not deserve it.

Because we all have crap we’re working on.  I know this because I’ve got a whole bunch of luggage that God is dealing with me about.  A WHOLE BUNCH.

So instead of judging that man for his actions, I need extend enough grace to look beyond myself and see that he may be in a really difficult place.  What if he just lost his job?  What if his wife was ill?  And a million other what ifs’.

Compassion.

Caring enough to do something about someone elses need.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Today the Sunday School teacher learned a very valuable lesson.

DeeDeeSig

December 7, 2009

21 Responses to Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple

  • Great message, DeeDee. Thanks for sharing.

  • hmmm.

    For the record, you can call me, “Ms. Doormat.” (Can’t call me Mrs, for while I’m married, my husband is not even close to a doormat.)

    I am forever telling myself to give others grace. Oh, they can scream at me, because they had a bad day, or they can huff at me because their kid is sick or. . .

    Or, I can smile sweetly, and say something like, “I know you appreciate all that I’m doing to keep your child safe.”

    I can still remind myself to give them grace. . .but I’ve decided it won’t hurt to remind them either.

  • WOW..well said!!!!!
    I have walked down that VERY, EXACT SAME path….but it took me a little while longer to reach the same ending!!!! 😉
    Thanks for reminding me on the REAL purpose why we serve!!!!
    xxoxoxoxoxo

  • That is a great message, one I need to be reminded of. Yet don’t be too hard on yourself – it is wonderful your church has such thorough security measures, but they will only work if the parents do their part too. Perhaps as a backup there could be photos on file of the person/people who are authorized to pick up the child. Because I think of how I am inclined to always forget my church name tag when leaving for church, even though I know they are a good idea for helping people get to know each others’ names.

  • Wowee!!! South Africa could learn a thing or two about security from the USA, that’s for sure. Our church used to run a community children’s program, aimed specifically at providing a getaway day for children from problem homes. We would phone the families in the week to arrange to collect the children from their homes at a specific time on a Saturday morningm take them hiking or picnicking or tree climbing etc. And then drop them off at home in the afternoon. The shocker was that MOST of the parents never asked where we were going, what we’d be doing with their children, what time we’d be done or even who would be responsible for them for the day. They were just too happy to be rid of them for the day! Terrible! I have since resigned because as an adoptive mother (an infertile woman, at that), it was just too heary-rending for me to participate any longer. Shocking parenting. Shocking!

  • Been in the exact same situation when I taught in the Sunday School preschool class. I know it is frustrating when a parent acts that way…especially since you are only looking out for the safety of their child!
    A great lesson you shared. Compassion for others is many times difficult…and learning to have a servant’s heart for others. Not easy. I’m working on that too.

  • As a preschool teacher myself in a church of over 10,000 I find myself matching numbers and cards no matter if I know them or not. Practicing grace to grumpy parents who just want to get home is hard work! I just smile and remind myself that childs safety comes first.

  • Compassion is also putting your self in a difficult situation for the protection of a little child. You did good, Momma. I hope my girls have you as a Sunday School teacher someday soon.

  • Great post!! I’ve been in the same situation with the tag issue. People think that because they’re in church, everyone must trust everyone else so the rules don’t apply. However, in today’s world, you just never know…

    And I completely admire you for accepting Fiddledaddy’s lesson with humility rather than defensiveness (which would have been my posture because, um, I’m a little high strung too! :-)).

  • I have been teaching and ADULT SS class of my peers (and slightly older) for almost four years.

    It has been delightful and ROUGH all at once. There has been: healing, divorce, healthy babies born, illness, promotions, job loss, bankruptcy, sick kids, baptisms, salvation, and a whole lot of other “stuff”.

    Some good, a lot bad. It is so easy for me to forget why I teach and instead complain because the same people take meals to people every time, or noone wants to plan a social, but you are exactly right… God is teaching me more than I could ever teach anyone else about a lot of things, one being compassion.

  • I am there with you DeeDee. I am a teacher in a public school and part of my responsibility is to work in the room after school where parents come and pick up their child. You would not believe the number of parents who get angry at me when I ask to see the ID we handed out at the beginning of the year. I understand the inconvienance but it’s for your child’s safety. We’ve also had non-custodial parents attempt to pick up kids. It’s not a pretty sight.
    I must say that for as many parents who get angry/annoyed there are just as many if not more who express appreciation at the extra measures we take to insure the safety of the children.
    Hang in there and Bless you for all you do in working with children!

  • What a great message!

    This is such a huge HUGE issue. So many people put their heads in the sand and assume that bad things don’t happen in churches!

    You did good standing your ground and then going to ask someone who had been there longer for advice. The safety of the children is the #1 priority. A little grumpy is easier to live with then a child sent with the wrong person!

    Keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart! Working with children is so rewarding!

    BTW – Many times I have also left my kids home with dad to go teach my church class! 😀

  • I love you! You are absolutly right, and as humans we naturally would get upset about that. But in striving to live life the way that Christ wants, we have to step back, and take a look at the whole picture! Compassion… what a wonderful life lesson in your Sunday School day at church… your gonna be a GREAT sunday school teacher. (And I’m a homeschool momma too!)

  • You were right, he was hungry and cranky. I am sorry this happened, it is always better to deal with a cranky Dad than a freaking out parent who you just released their child to the wrong person. (hugs)

  • I love when the Lord teaches us little lessons like that:)

  • Wow, DeeDee, what a great post!!! Fiddledaddy is so smart. I will remember this the next time I think someone needs to be kicked around for being rude. 😉 (I have cough medicine head, so if this makes no sense, forgive me please!)

  • Wow! Love this message!

    It’s people like YOU that make our church so wonderful!! Thanks for all that you do!

  • I hear you, I’m always learning too. Great post Dee Dee!

  • Vent all you want! I completely 100% whole heartedly agree with you. Parents should be greatful that you and all the other churches out there take the time to safe guard their children. Sorry you had such bad time at a place where you should be able to have an open heart and mind for Christ.

  • Isn’t it funny how we learn some of our BIGGEST lessons with church folk?

    As a mother of four children, I am grateful for Sunday school teachers like you.

    It is pretty sad that a father just coming out of church, has such a sour attitude. Just confirms the fact “The Body has body odor!”

    Show him LOTS of love next week!

  • Our church must use the same material – our virtue of the month was the same, with the same definition, too. 🙂 Yes, that is too bad that he wasn’t more patient with you, being that you’re just starting to teach & you were trying to protect his child after all. But that’s a good point that we need to show compassion. 🙂