In January and February, I am making a point to visit each of our Crossroads Kids Club sites at least one time. I enjoy seeing what God is doing at each school, and every one is so different. I learn and grow from my time visiting the clubs and the visits keep me connected to the “street level” ministry.
As I have been visiting clubs, I have noticed that a number of them are using the Crossroads curriculum series called “Passing on the Torch of Faith” (a.k.a. Heroes). This material sets before the children heroes from the Old Testament, the New Testament, church history and today. It concludes by challenging them to live as God’s heroes of faith today. The key Scripture passage for this series is Hebrews 12:1–2. In the NIV, these verses say: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This past Sunday, my pastor, Tom Severson, preached a great sermon from this passage. Tom painted a picture of the cloud of witnesses as spectators who are cheering us on. He had each section of the church chant a cheer on his cue—left side, right side and balcony. Our cheers were cheers for Jesus and the victory that he has won. I realized something as we did this. Cheering is fun! Even as adults, we love to get emotionally engaged and cheer for something important or about which we are passionate, don’t we?
Not only is it fun to cheer, but I have learned that it is encouraging to have others cheer for you. As some readers may know, I am a runner. Last October, I ran a half marathon in Detroit that crossed over the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada. The return to the U.S. went through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Running through a tunnel with the fumes, the darkness and the temperature change from the outside air was not particularly fun (especially after having run 6 or 7 miles prior to that point). However, I knew that my family was going to be just past the tunnel to cheer me on. This encouraged me to keep on running. As I passed my wife, Adriana, she said something like, “No way!” which I knew meant that I had exceeded her expectations for pace. I was running strong and fast, and her words encouraged and challenged me to keep running with perseverance.
Back to Tom’s sermon and then to an idea I want to share with you. Tom shared that the image in Hebrews 12 of the cloud of witnesses is a picture of the great men and women of God watching our lives and cheering for us as we live for Jesus. Abraham, Moses, Sarah, Joshua, Rahab, and David are cheering for us! They are cheering for the kids in your ministry, too! What would David say to cheer us on? (“Worship God with all you’ve got!” perhaps). How about John? (“Love one another!” maybe). Paul? (“God is for you and his grace is enough!”). Here’s the idea: What you might do is ask the children to create a cheer for themselves from each biblical character they study. I think that the kids would have a fun time thinking about and creating a cheer from each hero. What would this person in the “cloud of witnesses” say to cheer them on as they run the race with perseverance? As they chant the cheer what they have come up with, I believe they will be encouraged, will have fun and will remember the stories of these heroes better, too. Try it, and let me know how it works.