I regularly say that the best thing we do at Elmhurst CRC is Little Lambs. I don’t mean to diminish any of the other great things that happen around our community by saying this. I simply recognize that in serving the youngest kids in our community, we are creating positive spiritual ripples that will extend out for decades and generations into the future. Sermons are great (right?), but a Sunday morning worship service rarely changes a person’s entire life. It’s hard to change the thinking or behavior of a grown up; we get quite set in our ways. A preschooler, however, is learning, changing and incorporating new thoughts and behaviors every moment of the day. That’s why Little Lambs is so strategic to our church’s mission. With young kids, big spiritual growth is a given.
It makes me proud that Elmhurst CRC is known throughout our wider community as the Little Lambs Church. Folks have gotten the message that our church is a place where kids can thrive. Lambs’ reputation is such that people are willing to trust us with the world’s most precious natural resource: the lives and hearts of children! I’m especially thankful for my coworker Lynda Clousing (aka Aunt Lynda) who lovingly and skillfully shepherds the Lambs throughout the year. She is as thorough and dedicated as they come.
We ought not forget that most of our neighbors come because a friend has told them about Little Lambs. Slick marketing and email reminders aren’t enough to persuade a parent to drop their child off at a new place for two hours. The only way to convince a parent that allowing a church like Elmhurst CRC to influence their kid for hours a week is to share a story of what happened to other kids when they came and experienced Little Lambs. Is there any parent of a preschooler whom you could share your story with?
As awesome as Lambs is, it is not something new. Our church was started as a Sunday school for kids in the parlor of a two-bedroom bungalow in Bellwood. 80 years ago, Katherine Tessman and her husband came to Christ, received a vision for ministry, and started sharing their Sunday mornings with the kids in the neighborhood. They figured out that when you get a group of kids together for some fun, Bible stories, and songs of praise to God, amazing things happen. (Of course, adults are not so different! Getting together for fun, Bible stories, and songs of praise is why I come to church every Sunday!)
Mrs. Tessman saw these amazing things happen in her home all those years ago, and we continue to see them happen at Elmhurst CRC today. Earlier this week, Caryn Rivadeneira mentioned a woman who asked an Elmhurst Mom’s Facebook group for advice on where her spiritually curious daughter could learn about God. While we are fortunate to live in an area with many great choices for that mom and her young daughter, the number of people--from a variety of backgrounds--who endorsed Little Lambs as a safe, fun, interesting, and affordable place for their preschoolers to learn about the love of Jesus was a powerful testament to Katherine Tessman’s vision and how Lynda Clousing carries on that legacy.
The Holy Spirit is at work in our community, and I’m so grateful Little Lambs plays such an important role in it.