Vol.XIII No.II Pg.8
April 1976

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

I was standing at the church door, dutifully shaking hands and passing pleasantries with the departing congregation, when this young man paused and thanked me for the sermon. His mature, gentlemanly manners prompted me to ask, How old are you Son? To which he replied, Six years old, and Im a-feeling it too. Yes, he was!!

Remembering my own childhood days at church (arguing with my teacher about a scripture I knew was in there but could not find) I am sympathetic with youngsters who take an active interest, even at my expense. Following a sermon on the conscience, illustrated by a clumsily drawn steam governor, a young fellow pointed at the chalk board and said with great seriousness, Brother Turner, I cant believe the conscience looks like that! To tell the truth, I couldnt believe it either.

But not all youngsters are happy about going to church-- for various reasons. One little boy became wedded to a T.V. Cowboy show following the preacher dinner, and when time came to leave he caused his mother some embarrassment. Finally a pat on the back, down low, got him started, but he was sobbing and muttering to himself as we rode toward the building. I was seated next to him, and had no difficulty in getting the message. He was saying, Well, it had better be good, thats all I say. It had better be good!! What chance has a preacher against competition like that?

There are few compliments more prized by the preacher in the know than the genuine, unprompted compliment of a child. It may not measure depth, but it will tell you the difference in depth and muddy water. If the message is clear enough for the youngsters to get it, and interesting enough to make them want it, you have a reasonable chance of reaching a few adults as well. But when you cut the children out you are cutting off a large portion of your hearers. Adults may not squirm as much, but politeness hides many wandering minds.

The open-faced honesty of children is so refreshing and delightful, even when one must question some of their concepts. When one little boy was told it was time for church he whined, Do we have to go again? Then, before his mother could correct him, he brightened up saying, Oh, I forgot! I told God Id go every night if He would heal my cat!