I went to May Park yesterday to watch L, and some other kids involved at The New Place in their end of half term school play.
Each class did something, drumming, a rap, poems and other such creative things. I am often in awe of the creativity of children, I have to sometimes remind myself to be more like that, and less like the fogy, busy, uncreative person adulthood has tried to make me.
I remember being about eleven years old and my church minister, Neil Johnson coming to watch me in a school concert. I remember being chuffed that he had turned up for me, and I’ve kind of kept this in my head as I’ve engaged more and more with children, young people and families.
What mattered to me as a child and young person in the church wasn’t the sermon or the children’s address, what mattered was that someone turned up at key moments and showed me that they cared for me and valued me. Whilst being chuffed at the time, the significance wasn’t apparent.
It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I looked back on my journey of faith, and my journey mentally and I realised the huge impact the church had on me as a young person, even though often I had pushed it away.
If all the work at The New Place fails, if we close down all of our projects, if we don’t break even will it matter too much? because a handful of kids might get to their twenties and remember that the church turned up for their school play, that the church valued them and thought them of worth and they might be reminded of the call of God in their lives and they might turn up for someone’s school play too.
I’ve never claimed to be a children’s worker or anything like that, but the more that children and families become part of the work at The New Place; the more I am relearning what it is to be like a child. I don’t mean this in some weak and patronising way, but the energy, creativity and hope that children have gets lost somewhere in our growing up. Yet I feel very much that as adults we seek so strongly an identity because we seek worth and value, what we have to learn from children is that value does not come in what we do or how well we perform but simply in the fact that because we are human others will turn up and clap at our efforts without marking them out with a set of standards or expectations.