I noticed a couple of things about myself after posting those last few entries. 1 – I apologize a lot for posting anything that doesn’t seem “serious” or “grown-up” enough. Like this is (sort of) a ministry blog and I’m like “oh noes I’m getting all silly again.” 2 – But that’s the sort of thing I like to post and it’s a lot of fun and I spend a lot of time thinking about it. And more to the point, thinking of it in professional ways – I’m interested in kids’ entertainment because I care about teaching kids and relating to them on their level. I think a lot about having kids of my own and what messages I want them to get from the world.
To be honest, I don’t think a whole lot about the more “serious” topics I post here. And even when I’m talking about more adult-oriented comics and trying to analyze them, it’s a bit weird because I don’t read those things for analysis, I read them to relax. It’s a lot easier and more natural to talk about why I chose children’s books/comics/toys/whatever, because in those things I’m always actively thinking about sharing them with my future kids or with kids I teach or baby-sit or whatever. These are actually my more professional choices.
I’ve been re-reading Fred Craddock’s Preaching to figure out why I’m having such trouble remembering how to do a sermon and why it’s just not working. One of the things that really stood out to me is the idea of the audience being an active participant. In a lecture the speaker is simply delivering their information, while preaching is more of a conversation. It’s not just delivering information, it’s calling for action and continuing a discussion that takes place at every sermon, class, and event in the church or community.
So who’s my audience here? I struggle with that a lot. On the one hand, I know who tends to actually read it and I do sometimes edit what I say so I won’t bore friends who I figure don’t care about ministry. Which is a really weird thing to do since I set this up as a blog about ministry. But they’re supporting me by reading! I can’t alienate them! 😀 Of course, the fact that they bother to read probably says that they’d support me anyway and I really just need to get over that fear, so I’m working on it. Also, if they’re not interested then we’re probably friends for other reasons and can continue bonding over things we do both like. Instead I should be focused on the “audience” (perhaps better described as community) I would like to have reading this. People with similar interests sharing ideas about religious education and particularly kids’ religious education.
It might be fun to practice children’s sermons instead. I’ve never really done that before. There was one time I got to put together the service at my church and I planned to give a children’s sermon, but that wasn’t really a part of that church and there was only one family with kids who didn’t show up that week. So I wound up trying to adapt it for adults and it was weird. They said they liked it, though. I didn’t get a lot of comments saying they liked the main sermon, it got a bit lecture-y.
Thinking back, I probably should have just stuck with the children’s book I used to preface it and made the whole sermon all-ages. Even in classes full of grad students I was always told my sermons were too “teachy,” which I now think probably means too lecture-y, not aware enough of the audience and context. I take on a different persona when I’m trying to teach grown-ups, more distant and academic. It’s more natural talking to kids, I know better how to teach and lead as myself instead of retreating to lecture-land.
When I started telling my husband about all this, I realized part of why I keep going back to wanting to be a pastor even though most of that work terrifies me is that I think this is the “grown-up” job. In the churches where I grew up, children’s ministry was delegated to women who weren’t really educated in religion and were just using pre-packaged curriculum. Women weren’t allowed to teach adult men in these churches and weren’t treated as real authorities – children’s ministry was basically just baby-sitting. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be a calling, and I think it is for me. I think that’s where I feel the most useful and at home, and any time I find myself looking for jobs I try to look for the serious office type jobs but find myself wishing I could just take care of kids all day. Back when I was working in child care, I had so much extra energy. Now I’m always tired.
I’m still interested in religious ed for all ages. I have lots of ideas and love finding new curricula. Thinking up inter-generational activities interests me a lot, and I think I’ll like working with a church to develop classes and groups for everyone. Maybe even occasionally lecture if it fits – but I know that’s probably what it would be, combined with a lot of group discussion (which is what I tended to do when I was teaching an adult class so it didn’t just become me talking at everyone). When I think about teaching, I’m thinking about teaching kids.
And that was kind of the whole idea behind this blog. Make teaching and religion fun. Bring out the spiritual components of entertainment and make everything an opportunity for learning and celebrating. And since I’m constantly doing that with kids’ books and other entertainment, I should probably talk about that more and stop apologizing for it. I’m good at it and it’s what I want to be doing with my life, so talking about it is professional and important.