by Jared Massey/ November 5, 2014
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 I want to share.
As I was scraping the paint from the building and it was flaking off, I discovered that the wood underneath had barely been affected by the paint. Sure, from the outside looking in, the wood looked white. But with a little bit of effort, the true condition of the wood began to show. I think for many who teach children, we just teach kids the Bible and about Jesus and like paint, what we teach 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 beauty of the wood often shows through in this method, it is forever changed by the stain. Stain soaks into the wood and you can’t scrape it away. This is 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, “staining” is much more difficult than “painting.” 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 told us to make disciples. It’s creating something in the life of a child that will last.