In my last two full-time pastoral stops, I encourage my congregation to bring brown lunch bags with an item in them to church for the children's lesson. At the appointed time, one child would pick a bag for the lesson and (at my last stop the keyboardist would play the theme from Jeopardy while I took that time to think) I would proceed to give the lesson from the object plucked from the bag. Years of children’s lessons taught in the youth ministry helped me to prepare for this and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to try this without a lot of preparation first, but it was amazing how this simple procedure helped everyone invest in the lesson. People were always trying to “stump the preacher” and sometimes they nearly succeeded! The best part of doing the lessons this way was that with everyone “involved” the lesson gained more credibility and power. A lesson that I may have prepared was nice, but one in which I seemed to prepare “on the fly” gave room for the Spirit to work!
Amy visited my former congregation last Sunday and the brown bag was still being used by the new preacher. I guess it is as they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!” I look to begin the practice soon here in Stillwater. I just trust the Spirit to give me the best lesson each week. Besides, if we pastors can’t trust the Spirit, how can we expect our congregations to trust the Spirit!?!