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God can use your empty car seats image

God can use your empty car seats

How one small prayer can make a big difference.

I’ve always owned small cars: Ford Lazer, Ford Festiva, Mazda 121 (the old jellybean shape) and now a Hyundai i30. But last week, I found myself checking how much a mini-van would cost me. Why would I, with petrol prices skyrocketing and set to go even higher, seek to upsize rather than downsize my car?

The answer is a prayer I recently challenged the children in my church to pray (in my role as Children’s Minister).

I encouraged them to start praying for their spare car seat.

Of course, I don’t think inanimate objects require prayer. Nor do I want the children I lead to think this either! The prayer was in the context of re-launching our Friday afternoon Kids’ Clubs after an almost two-year COVID and building-project induced hiatus.

In the before times, the Kids’ Clubs at our church had about 20–30 kids—a really good turnout! The only problem was, almost all of the kids who attended were from church families. Somewhere along the line, the groups had lost their outward focus.

In order to address this, we decided on one simple concrete reminder for the children who were coming along to the new groups: think about who you can bring in your spare car seat on Friday, pray about them throughout the week, and get inviting.

The result wasn’t immediate, but it was slowly growing. On the first week of Kids’ Club, there were three new children. On the second week there were eight. In total, we’ve connected with more than 15 new children in the first month of running the re-launched club.

And here is where I start thinking about upsizing my car—because last week I had to turn two of my sons’ friends away because we had run out of seats. Our two empty seats were already full! Another family in our church with four kids have asked their older two to get the bus home so that they can have more empty seats for friends! Other families are taking advantage of their multiple cars to transport more children to the group.

The ministry of the spare car seat is about utilising what you have for God’s kingdom. God can take our small act of faith and multiply it for an eternal harvest; God can use one little act of hospitality to bring others into his kingdom. As Jesus said:

‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’ (Mark 4:30–32)

There are other ways to apply this kind of ‘kingdom thinking’ to our family life. A friend of mine told me about children in his church who choose to have birthday parties with Kids’ Club in mind—inviting all their friends to join in Kids’ Club and then come over for pizza afterwards. Others schedule catchups and playdates before church (in our case, on a Saturday afternoon), so that it’s easier to invite friends and their parents to come along to church with them.

There are lots of ways we can take the ordinary and use them for extraordinary purposes—hopefully the example of the spare car seat can encourage you to think of other small ways your family can invite others to share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.

P.S. We did end up buying that van! And this week four extra kids will be coming with us to Kids' Club!

This article originally appeared at Youthworks.net.

Before training for ministry, Jenn taught courses in English Literature, History and Cultural Studies at universities in Australia and China. Jenn’s former ministry roles were in SRE, and she was a member of Youthworks' Ministry Support Team until December 2021. Jenn now serves as the Children’s Minister at Jannali Anglican Church in the South of Sydney where she lives with her husband and two children.


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