“Oh, Pastor Mike,” Nella peered around the corner of the door into the pastor’s study, leaning in with her right arm still behind her. “I hope you don’t mind, but I had to bring Julie with me.”
The right arm came into view with a dark-haired little girl clinging to Nella’s hand. “Bob is working late and I’m going to let her go into the kindergarten class. They’ve got some toys and she’s always good.”
Pastor Mike smiled. “No problem, Nella. Our committee meeting won’t take long. Dick is and Larry is on the way.”
Nella sat down in one of three chairs placed in a semi-circle in front of the pastor’s desk. Dick and Larry were soon in their places and after a few words of chitchat, the meeting got under way.
“Let’s open with prayer,” said Pastor Mike, bowing his head. “Dear Lord, you’ve said that when two or three are gathered together in your name, you are in the midst. Make your presence known to us tonight; give us wisdom so we can do the best for our Sunday School and our children.”
“Amen,” they said in unison.
“Mike, we need to make some changes, some major changes,” Dick said abruptly. “We are losing kids right and left. As soon as they get old enough to tell their parents they don’t like church anymore, they’re gone!”
“That’s not our fault,” Larry replied, almost as sharply. “Parents don’t make their kids come to church like they used to. Why when we built this church 40 years ago, brick by brick, we had our kids out here helping! We knew how to keep ’em on the farm.”
Pastor Mike sighed. It looked like another Sunday School committee meeting was destined to end in a draw. “Well, it is true our numbers are down a little for the younger groups, but I think that could change. The new factory going up outside of town is going to bring in new families. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready and that we have something to offer.”
“Whatever it is, I don’t want to be like that independent bunch on Willow,” Dick’s voice was as sharp as ever. “They wouldn’t know a hymnbook if it fell on ’em. They had a rapper there just last week!”
“And I don’t want a bunch of parties,” Larry picked up the argument. “If you hot dog ’em to get ’em in, you have to hot dog ’em to keep ’em!”
Nella wasn’t going to let that pass by. “The New Testament church people met everyday to break bread together. It sounds like hot dogging was part of the worship!”
“Let’s all calm down,” Pastor Mike implored quietly. “Young people need to fellowship, They need to have a little fun. We just need to make sure we have a structure that brings them to Jesus and helps them grow in the Lord.”
Larry wasn’t buying. “We ought to forget Sunday School. Let’s just have children’s church and leave it at that.”
The four fell into silence. They knew they were going around in circles. Pastor Mike bowed his head in resignation.
As the quiet settled around them, they heard Julie’s sing-song voice next door. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so….” She began talking to the dolls in the room. “Barry, you sit here; Amanda you sit here. I’m going to tell you about David and his slingshot and the awful giant.”
Pastor Mike lifted his head. A sense of embarrassment seemed to have come over all of them.
“I think we need to remember why we’re here,” Pastor Mike said quietly. “It’s not about music or hot dogs. It’s about this church doing what God has called us to do for our children and for the others who may come. Let’s start over.”
Larry bowed his head. “Pastor, I’d appreciate your letting me say a word of prayer. I think I need to.”
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