A three-year-old girl came running down the center aisle of the sanctuary and straight into my arms. “I’m here!” she exclaimed, laying her head on my shoulder.
I had no idea who she was, but I held her close for a few moments before beginning the children’s message. I have forgotten what my message was about that day, and I imagine everyone else has too. But many of us will never forget this child’s exuberant and tender response to the invitation to join the circle of faith.
When I began serving as an associate pastor for children’s ministries, I thought I would be at it for a year or two—three at the most. It was a part-time position, after all; the hours matched the needs of my family. Our children were both in preschool at the time, so I planned to stay at the church until the youngest one entered kindergarten. Then, I thought, I would move on to something more high- profile and adult-centered—something more like what I’d envisioned when I was in divinity school.