The other day, I got the opportunity to do one of my least favorite things in the world, strip paint. I absolutely despise the process. However, as I was scraping paint from the outside of our church building, I had a thought that I recently shared on a podcast that I am a part of. Based on a recommendation from my cohost of that show, I’m writing it here.
The thing about paint is that as I was scraping the paint from the building and it was flaking off, the wood underneath had barely been affected by the paint itself. Sure, from the outside looking in, the wood looked white, but with a little bit of effort, the truth about the wood quickly began to show through. I think for many who teach children, we just teach kids the Bible and about Jesus and it sticks to them. It might stick for a long time or it might stick for a short while, but in the end, it doesn’t actually change them. It just appears as if they have been changed.
A better goal to strive for is stain. When you stain wood, that stain soaks deep into the wood itself. In fact, while the original integrity of the wood often shows through in this method, it is forever changed by the stain. It soaks into the wood and you can’t just scrap it away. This is more of what we should strive for. Rather than just covering things up with facts about Jesus, we need to allow the Gospel to soak our kids and saturate their very being. The beauty of a good stain is that, while the original texture of the wood is still visible, it is made more beautiful by the stain. This is the Gospel in our lives. It beautifies without hiding. It saturates and changes us without covering who we were meant to be. This is accomplished when those facts we learn are allowed to form a relationship with Jesus. It happens when instead of memorizing a verse for a project or to earn points, we allow that verse to shape how we live our lives.
Obviously, the second is much more difficult. It requires being intentional and strategic. It requires much more thought and preparation. You can’t just show up and throw on a video, because it’s a day-to-day thing, not an hour a week thing. But, in the end, it’s the only system that works. It’s what I believe Jesus meant when he said make disciples. It’s creating something in the life of a child that will last.