FaithBuilders is just about my favorite thing to do. For three days this week I attempted to corral and teach 25 of our 6th and 7th graders here at Central the basics of our Christian faith. It’s loud, it’s hectic, it’s invigorating, and exhausting. I always forget until I’m right in the middle of it how much energy this age group has. There’s no “pause” button on these kids. No volume control knob. There’s certainly no “stop” switch. It’s constant movement and noise. And it’s really cool.
On the first day we talked about how we are made in the image of God. We discussed words and concepts like glory and honor, righteousness and relationship, perfection and peace. And then we discussed how sin has totally messed all that up. We’ve all fallen short of that glory of God and, therefore, are eternally separated from our holy Creator. Wow, that’s a real problem, right? Of course, talking about Adam and Eve, the serpent, and original sin leads to all kinds of interesting discussions with eleven-and-twelve-year-olds. What if Eve had never sinned, would we need Jesus? Was it an apple or an orange? Could all the animals in the Garden of Eden talk, or just the snake? We contemplated Adam and Eve’s last names and whether or not they had belly buttons. The origin and ultimate demise of the dinosaurs also came up. So did the question of what God really looks like. But we spent a good deal of our time considering together the sobering truth that, on our own, we are wholly incapable of getting back into a right relationship with God.
On the second day we looked at Jesus as the solution to the problem of sin. How do we know he’s really the Messiah, the Promised One? What do the prophesies, the miracles, the eyewitness accounts of his resurrection prove to us? And how do his death and resurrection atone for our sins? Naturally, we also discussed whether all the cool stuff Jesus did was because he was God or because he was a man fully in tune with his God. We talked about why forgiveness of sin requires so much blood. And the topic of whether babies are born with sin. Whoa. Pretty heavy.
Yesterday, we wrapped things up by talking about faith. What does faith look like? Why are we baptized into Christ? What does it mean to really be a disciple of Jesus? Is it even possible to live like him? What is the Son of God really calling us to do?
It was hard core study in the mornings and then lunch and fun in the afternoons. Robin and Becky and Mean Jean made the meals. Matt and Ethan drove our church vans. On Monday, it was the WT Activities Center for swimming and sliding in their little water park, bowling, volley ball, and racquetball. Well, not really racquetball. Some courts had three or four kids, some had as many as seven or eight at a time. I think it was more like dodgeball with racquets. Britton may have blacked out after being struck in the temple. Maybe. But nobody got hurt.
Tuesday’s activity was a trip to the UA Theater to see “Brave.” “Wee naked bobby” and “Feast your eyes!” became the popular exclamations on the way home. Then yesterday we had a progressive pool party that began at the Williams’ home and ended in the Vaughans’ back yard. I’ve heard Skillet’s “Monster” song enough now to last me three lifetimes. And if I ever hear Luke and McKaden kareoke “Call Me Maybe” again — EVER!! — it’ll be too soon.
By the way, I totally underestimated the power of the sticky frog. When purchasing a bunch of cheap little daily homework prizes for the kids, I completely undervalued the sticky frog. I bought eight of them initially. And they were taken by the first eight kids. I brought eight more the next day and you would have thought I had walked in with Super Bowl tickets. It was incredible! I knew a few of the boys would want these sticky, slimy, little sling toys. But I had no idea the girls would go bananas for them, too. They proved to be a little distracting during some of our lessons. A couple of boys got nailed in the throat by frog slingers and at least one girl suffered a fall off a chair while attempting to retrieve her frog from the ceiling. But, man, I had no idea. Sticky frogs. Who knew?
My favorite part of FaithBuilders is when, at 4:00, they go home. No, not because I’m rid of the kids. I love these boys and girls. They are hungry and thirsty for God. They want to be taught. They ask all the right questions. They’re exploring and experimenting and reflecting. They’re so expressive and uninhibited. I learn from these kids. Every time Adley spoke to me I felt like I was talking to an angel, like I should be taking notes and putting them in my sermons. I’m re-energized by them. Playing “DORK” with a bunch of hyper twelve-year-old boys is good for the body and the soul. And I’m not grateful for 4:00 because now I can get some peace and quiet. I figure my time with these children is just beginning. I figure the relationships we’re forging now are only going to get closer and tighter and, probably, even messier in the future. I cherish my hours with these guys and gals. Hopefully they’re seeing their preacher as a real guy who can relate to them and the things they feel. I know any time I can spend with a kid is valuable. They’re picky with their time and their attention. I’m grateful for all of it. No, my favorite part of FaithBuilders is 4:00 each afternoon because I know the kids are going home to study with their parents. They’re taking their folders and Bibles and homework assignments, sitting down with their moms and dads and grandparents, and discussing together our Christian faith. It’s being passed on around kitchen tables and living room sofas. Bibles are read and Scriptures are searched. Stories are shared and truth is explored. At home. You and I both know that’s the best part.