Today at VBS was absolutely amazing. It was the day we teach the Gospel story, also known in VBS teacher circles as Decision Day. After hearing the story of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection three days later, we give the kids (particularly the older kids) a chance to pray about it and come talk to a leader if they want to make a decision to follow Christ.
I'll be honest with you: this always makes me feel a little squeamish. I don't want to pressure anyone or cram the Holy Spirit down anyone's throat, but especially not a young, impressionable kid. I've been to church services where the Pastor has the Worship Leader and praise band keep playing the same chorus over and over AND OVER again for an altar call until you're so sick of the song you could scream. You're praying for someone, ANYONE, to walk down front to the altar not because you're worried about their eternal salvation but because your stomach is growling and you know that all the Methodists (or insert the "rival" church of your choice) are going to get to the Shoney's and totally scarf the buffet before you get out of the service!
I hate that kind of pressure. I hate when the pastoral staff members feel like failures unless people come sobbing to the altar. Or when they gloat at staff meeting later in the week because five people answered the call in their service that week. Hello? It's not a cause to pat yourselves on the back and puff out your chest. It's not about the church staff; it's about the kingdom!
But, having said all that, I'm celebrating tonight because three girls in my 4th and 5th grade group today accepted Christ and are going to heaven. Wow. How cool is that?
I made the guy I'm teaching with pray with them and lead them through it all because I felt so overwhelmed by the whole thing. I'm so not worthy. It's still hard for me to believe that all you have to do is say a prayer and you can have eternal life. I kept waiting for someone to say, "No, I'm sorry but you're not good enough. See, only the good people are allowed to do this. Didn't you get the memo?" You know, it seems like there should be some sort of form you fill out and then wait three to five weeks to get your approval letter back in the mail with your Heaven Membership Card and numeric code to pass through the pearly gates. And of course they'd send me a very nicely worded rejection letter:
Thank you for your interest in our Eternal Life program. We're sorry, but you don't meet our minimum requirements for membership. We'll pray for your soul as you burn in hell. Thank you and have a nice damnation.
But, thankfully, it doesn't work that way.
If you want to see an example of the sinner's prayer, go here. If you feel that's something you want to do, be sure to talk to someone at your local church. You can also talk to me about it, but I'll probably stammer and flail around and find someone else, someone MUCH wiser and intelligent, for you to talk to.
Because I still feel unworthy and tongue-tied at the magnitude of leading people through the most important decision they'll ever make. Oh, the pressure.