I've discovered the acid test for any sacred orator. Preaching to kids.
I got my baptism by fire one Sunday when asked to preach to the children's church, a restless crowd of fifty kids in a hot gym. On the top row, swinging his feet so they banged the bleachers, sat Mike, a skinny 9-year-old with shaggy, blond hair.
"Get down from there," the children's minister instructed him. "You know we don't sit up there." Mike shrugged his shoulders, gave one last bang with the heel of his shoes, and moved down two rows.
With that as my introduction, the children's minister glanced at me. I decided no sacred hush was forthcoming, so I might as well plunge in.
I quickly scanned my audience, which was constantly rustling, like finches on a feeder. In the higher rows of the bleachers sat the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I knew I could communicate with them. But in front sat 5-year-olds whose toes didn't even touch the floor. They had been nursed on Nickelodeon, and now I was supposed to keep their ...1