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Heart Matters: Plunge In

An usher coming my way in the middle of a worship service means one of two things: It's time for the offering, or there's trouble in the preschool area. This time he looks worried.

"Amy needs you," he whispers. Quietly, I slip from my seat and head toward the preschoolers. When I agreed to coordinate our preschool ministry, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. How hard could it be to schedule volunteers, provide a lesson, and prepare a snack? I'd thought. Now, though, I know that serving God in preschool ministry means so much more than that.

It means being prepared for the unexpected.

Noise floats down the hall, and I hurry to B105. Amy's at the door waiting anxiously.

"Someone stuffed a dog in the toilet," she says.

I wonder if I heard her correctly. "A dog?"

"A stuffed dog," she nods.

It means solving conflict calmly and quickly.

Inside B105, the awe-filled faces of seven preschoolers greet me. I smile, noting the water on the floor.

"There's a mop in the hall closet," I say to Amy.

A large stuffed dog is swimming in the potty amid an overload of soppy toilet paper. I fish him out before I think about rubber gloves and plop him in the sink.

It means being flexible.

One little girl ventures close to the restroom door. "He had an accident," she reports, jabbing a chubby finger toward another preschooler.

Jackson's grinning sheepishly, his pants wet to his ankles. This, I think, gets more interesting by the moment.

Amy returns to mop the floor. I reach for the plunger. One of two plunges produces the satisfying slurp of a clear pipe. I now glance reluctantly at the dog.

It means loving the other saints who volunteer with you.

"Here's a plastic bag," offers Amy.

I smile. "You thought of everything." With two fingers, I pick up the dog and maneuver it into the bag. Then I turn to the kids. "Jackson, do you have extra clothes?"

He nods and heads to his cubby.

"Now, who can tell me what happened with the dog?" I ask.

The little girl who turned in Jackson comes forward again. "It's Mikey's."

It means loving children as Jesus loves them.

Mikey's eyes tear up. I tell the others they may go play. "What happened, Mikey?"

His lip trembles.

"It's okay. We've got it all cleaned up," I reassure him. "But I need to know how your dog got in the potty."

"I dunno," he says. He's trying not to cry. Before I can say anything else, he blurts, "Will he be okay?"

I'm caught off guard. "I'm sure he'll be back to normal after a good washing."

"Am I in trouble?"

"No," I say, "but let's be sure to keep an eye on any toys we bring to church from now on, okay?"

He smiles and reaches for my hand. "Whew! Jesus even loves my dog!" All better, Mikey runs off to play.

It means worshipping God.

Mikey's words stay with me as I re-enter the worship service. I feel as if I never left because a child taught me something about God today. He doesn't just care about the big things. God is deeply interested in the little things...even a stuffed dog in the pot.

The Psalmist said, "Serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100:2). What better way to serve him gladly than by plunging into children's ministry?

Sarah Young is a children's minister in Geneva, Florida.

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