Learner Turner: Let it go
It’s been a few years since ‘Let it go’ took over our lives. Some of us loved it, while others would have paid good money never to hear it again. But every year it creeps back in.
This year, though, I think it’s the ultimate youth and children’s leader Christmas song.
Christmas can feel like an endless slog of activities, planning, organisation, creativity and leadership. From services to outreach events, we are stretched thin. But I want to screechingly sing “Let it go!” over you all because I think there are a few Christmas truths we need to be reminded of.
Christmas is not a church competition. Let it go.
I remember at one church, after many years of relationship-building, we were finally invited to participate in our local school’s Nativity service. We were so excited about the opportunity to influence the telling of God’s story in that school. Our contribution was small: helping to write the script, encouraging children during rehearsals and doing some RE lessons around the story as they practised and planned.
We were over the moon that this school was opening up to us, and that we got to be part of its plans. That is, I was excited until I heard about another church in town that was hosting busloads of students from six local schools to a fully equipped, multisensory, complete with actors, food and live music Christmas extravaganza.
All of a sudden, my offering to our local school seemed beyond inadequate. I felt as though I wanted to pull out and let the other church take over. I felt angry at myself for not being more creative. I felt disappointed that I could never have
pulled off something like that at my church. Rather than celebrating the opportunity I had and joyfully giving my all, I chose to look around and compare myself and my church to others. And it robbed me of the joy of what God had put in front of me.
Some churches feel called and capable of producing enormous and fantastical events. For those children’s and youth leaders, we are praying for you! I’ve worked in a few of those churches, and I know the exhaustion and effort it takes. May God bless you. But I’ve also worked in churches that choose to do less or are limited by the influence they have and the capacity of the congregation. I want to say that what you do is no less significant. Don’t compare yourself with other churches. God has placed you in the lives of those you serve. You! He has asked you, with your creativity and the people you have, to serve and help others connect with him this season in the way that bubbles up within you. What God wants to do through you with the people he has called you to is dependent on you being you and joyfully stepping into the opportunities he has opened up with whatever you have in your hands. Let it go.
Don’t forget to give yourself ‘pause moments’ to let it all go and enjoy God in the space
The success of an event cannot always be measured. Let it go.
There is always the inevitable assessment of how ‘successful’ an event was based on numbers, how smoothly it went and whether people had a good time. But don’t let that assessment fool you into thinking that these things are a true measure of success.
God is at work in the midst of every event, so don’t forget to look out for his influence. It might be in the one child who grasps the wonder of who Jesus is, the family that finally comes to a church event together or the team member who finds his creativity and voice in your community. Our events and services are full of lives changed and God-connections made. So, as you look around and lead, don’t forget that God is popping up everywhere and that you may never know the significance of what he has done.
It doesn’t matter how many people showed up or if you had enough cups. Let it go.
God is actively seeking the lost and lonely, regardless of whether they showed up at our events. Let it go.
We spend a lot of time talking about the amazing outreach opportunities at Christmas, and we can be bitterly disappointed when they don’t go the way we had hoped. I want to remind you not to beat yourself up or to carry any sadness about ‘failing’. God is active and powerful, and he is hunting down the lost and the lonely with a relentless love. He desires a relationship with them more than we could ever possibly want or pray for. God is with them in this season; they just might not be at our event. We must trust God for what he is doing in their lives at this very moment. Let it go.
Even in the middle, allow yourself to be you and meet with God. Let it go.
As you rush around making sure the kids have costumes and the youth aren’t high when they show up at our events, filling in last-minute rotas and staying up until 2am to cut out crafts, don’t forget to give yourself ‘pause moments’ to let it all go and enjoy God in the space, to be in awe of a testimony or to take in the beauty of a candlelit room filled with people singing praise to our God as he comes close. Take some time to just be with the God who came for us all, including the exhausted youth and children’s leaders.
As the chaos swirls around in the middle of a service or event, let it go and see God’s beauty in it all. And then get back to work because that kid in the corner looks like he might vomit on the new carpet and you do not want to have to deal with that!