In Line to See Santa

I hate waiting in line...don't you? The ultimate misery for me is waiting in line at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. It's enough to drive you crazy! 

But I have watched preschool parents willfully stand in long lines. I've seen them stand in line for an hour just so their child could see Santa. I've seen them wait in long department store lines just so their child could have the popular toy that everyone wanted. I've seen them weave their way through a maze of line stanchions so their child could go on a ride at a theme park. I've seen them wait in the summer heat so their child could have their picture taken with their favorite Disney character. I've seen them wait patiently past their child's bedtime so they could be part of a special holiday event like 4th of July fireworks. I've seen them stand in line to make their child's birthday extra special. 

All of that waiting was for one their child could have an experience that would create a wonderful memory. When I was a preschool parent, I stood in those lines right along with everyone else. I wanted my boys to have fun experiences that would bring a smile to their face and give them fond memories of their childhood.

So if parents are that committed to seeing their children have great experiences, we must ask ourselves this question. How can we create preschool experiences at church that will have parents lined up to get their child in? 

Why do parents line up for their child to see Santa and their favorite Disney character? Because these are icons that they have a relationship with. These icons touch their heart strings and foster happy memories. These icons touch the inner need of feeling loved by someone. What if your preschool ministry was full of volunteers (icons and characters) that made preschoolers feel loved. Volunteers that cheerfully greet them by name each week. Volunteers that create happy memories for them. I have some volunteers that are at that level. And parents and preschoolers can't wait to get to their class each weekend. Parents will line up to have their preschooler in an environment where caring leaders build a loving, nurturing relationship with their child. 

Why do parents line up to purchase the popular toy that everyone wants? Because they want their child to have the very best. What if your church became known as the best place in town for preschoolers? What if the word spread that preschoolers were learning and living out Biblical truths they were being taught at your church? What if unchurched preschool families saw the positive impact your church was having on the families who were attending which caused them to want the same for their family? 

Why do parents wait in long lines for their child to experience a ride at a theme park? Because they want them to have a fun experience. When they are on the ride you will see them watching their child's expressions closely. They love to see their child's eyes light up with wonder. What if we created hands on, interactive learning experiences at church that amazed preschoolers? What if we created worship experiences that lit up their faces with God's glory? What if we offered shared experiences where parents and preschoolers could have fun together? 

Why do parents wait patiently so their child can be a part of a special holiday or birthday event? Because they want to celebrate milestones with their child. What if we provide spiritual celebrations and milestones that parents can experience with their child?

I recently witnessed something that was exciting for me. A mother was leaving church with her preschooler. She had her preschooler in her arms. He was pitching a royal fit! He was trying to get away from her with all his might. He even had his take home paper in his hand and was hitting her with it. I'll never forget what he was yelling! He was yelling, “NO! I don't want to leave! NO! I don't want to leave!” I'm not excusing his behavior. But my heart did rejoice that he had such a great experience at church that he didn't want to leave. I'd rather our preschool parents having to drag their children AWAY from church instead of TO church!

My prayer is that half empty hallways and classrooms will be a thing of the past for churches. That parents will be lining up to get their children in our preschool ministries! If we incorporate the things mentioned above, it can become a reality!

Posted by Dale Hudson