Monday, October 27, 2008

The Real Focus...

I am going to step into a sticky topic here because I simply want to share it......
That topic is ... my church.
Why is that a sticky topic?
Well, because as sure as people are people, everyone has an opinion, a feeling, and an experience.

It has now been a little over 7 years since we helped to start this church and I continue to be amazed and ever so grateful for the blessings involved, the people, the presence, the relationships.

The relationships.....The older I get, the more I learn that relationship is completely what God is all about. The more I learn, the more I see that the symbolism of "church" has gotten so wrapped up in rules, guidelines, steps, classes, structure, and format.....that the heart core and reasoning for church has been side stepped and forgotten. I often find myself picturing God shaking His head and saying, 'No that is not how it should be. Please just listen.'

My Disclaimers:
No my church is not perfect. None are because people are people....completely fail able.
Other churches are great too. Different churches fit different kinds of people.
There is a time and place for long as people listen to God's guidance.

With that being said, I LOVE my church. As we seek God's truth from the bible, we also seek His character, grace, and mercy. Continually we strive to have relationship as the main foundation and for people to find comfort and healing in a non-condemning environment.

Why am I bringing all of this up? Simply because last week I learned fresh that the ripple effects of that sort of environment effects the children too.

I have always encouraged my teachers to focus on relationship. I have always said that there is comfort in having a lesson plan and great things can be accomplished and learned with the structure of a lesson plan....but never be so focused on a check list that the children are forgotten. If things turn upside down in class and nothing gets "taught" but the children go home feeling more secure and confident...then GREAT things happened in class.

Ah...but fighting the security of a check list can be difficult at times. In my last post I talked about being empty for a long time and losing focus. After coming back from that retreat, I felt all of that fall away and when I taught the next day at church I felt a renewed sense of purpose in relationship instead of check lists. Boy am I grateful.

I had 2 new students in class, a brother and sister, ages 6 and 8. The little girl was scared to come into class and hugged her daddy for a long time before relenting to step into the unknown. Instead of opening the class time with the usual structure, I chose to break the class into small groups, I took one group and my teaching partner took the other. We discussed the happenings of the week, favorite foods, and how best to eat chocolate (yes I had the girls group). Then the subject of good things and bad things rolled around and the girls began to share with one another what was on their mind. You know what? Even a 1st grader can offer deep compassion in a relationship. They prayed and hugged each other ......without my prompting.

It was at this point that the little 6 year old really opened up. In words that were much too old for her years she took a deep breath and shared this, "Ok I want to share something with you all and it is bad. I mean really bad and sad. Okay, my parents are getting a divorce and....."
And on she went explaining what was on her heart. When she was finished sharing, the others in the group offered their young encouragement, hugs, and prayers. She looked happier and lighter when it was all said and done.

I was so touched and amazed. Over and over it hit me that if I had kept with my check list, she never would have had opportunity to share her heart and find relationships in new surroundings. The other children would have not had opportunity to reach out from themselves and have compassion in action for another.

By the time we pulled the groups back together, there wasn't much time for a lesson, but I think the real lesson had truly already been taught.

Yesterday in church they were visiting again. I saw that little girl smiling and talking with her new friends. She ran up to me and shared what a great day she was having and how glad she was to be back.

Again I felt in awe at the importance of relationship.........the real focus.

(David at Authorblog honored this post with a mention on his post of the day column.)


  1. ... and it's so wonderful to be reminded why we serve. Bless you Jules. Ray

  2. Inter-personal relations, yup, they make the world go round.

    Thank you, Jules.

  3. Hi Jules, glad you found serenity in the church. Have a good week ahead :D

  4. when we live by example it is then that we have the greatest effect on those around us. Jules you live in such a way that these young ones get to see Jesus in you. You love unconditioanly which creates a safe enviroment for those that need to share can. You have imparted your heart and those seeds are growing.

  5. Finding and expressing compassion at such young age is marvellous indeed. No wonder you feel mercifull and happy for these children.

  6. Jules that is why you are their God's word comes first And rules can go out the window.With the Holy Spirit plus His word and LOVE. we as a body can do all things in Him.TO YOU A BIG JESUS HUG.LOTS OF LOVE The word GOD gave me for you last week which i sent to you is coming true he as alot more for you.go for it sis.Did you pick up your award from last week???FROM one of my older blog.

  7. Jules I am so glad for you that you are surrounded by such a strong community and are able to find ways to bring others into that community and overcome fear. I think we all remember that awful moment when we step into the unknown, and what a kindness to help someone though it, and allow them to open up to others, by sharing that burden we are able to cope so much better. You do wonderful things.

  8. What a beautiful post Jules...I love that the little girl was able to open up and share her distress, therefore lightening a burden that was crushing her...what a wonderful gift you gave her!

  9. It was a great lesson. I am so glad you learned it! ;)

    I have found as a teacher that some of my greatest insights and advancements come during unplanned moments.

  10. what a sweet and meaningful post...God had your lesson plan all's good that you listened to your heart.

  11. I think God taps us on the shoulder many more times than we take note of. He prompts us to make a choice and then waits to see if we are listening or not. I think it's safe to say that you were definitely listening that day. Well done!

  12. How sweet, the little girl seems to have been afraid from beginning, but in the end she made a brave choice.

  13. Oh Jules....You are SO meant to be where you are, doing what you are doing! I agree with Quilly, because as a teacher, I found that the best 'lessons' were the unplanned ones. And Jeff B: that God taps us on the shoulder many more times than we acknowledge. I know He throws bricks at me when I've ignored those taps. You, and your church, are very blessed....and I am blessed to have found you!

  14. Way cool post. We never seem to give enough credit to the youngsters do we? They pick up on far more than we think.

  15. I would tell any Cristian Ed. teacher that preparation and study are of critical importance, but things don't always go as we plan, and we should know how to stay on task and communicate the essentials of the lesson we've planned. Once a person has that as a foundation, they are ready for the next phase... God occasionally uses divine interruptions to accomplish His purposes. It is a sign of maturity to be able to do like David and trust God's plan His timing is not our own.

    It sounds like you did well that day. That's a tricky thing and I'm sure I have erred both ways in similar situations.


I love to hear from other. Your opinions and viewpoints are always a blessing and encourage other readers as well.