Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Dancing puppets, bouncy bands, and cool smoke machines are transforming the old children’s church wings with decaying pictures of Noah’s Ark into miniature amusement parks complete with complimentary drinks. And there is much to be said for updating décor and for reevaluating curriculum to make sure it is gospel infused and connecting with today’s kids. Making “Victory in Jesus” your 2014 VBS theme song is probably not the best way to reach One Direction groupies. But as we take children’s ministry to the “next level,” we cannot forget that family ministry is best done by the church family; not just the children’s pastor or the preschool director.
Yes, church leaders have the important task of helping us parents better love Christ so that we can faithful care for our children. But caring for the exhausted mother and the frustrated dad extends well beyond the walls of the children’s building and even of the sanctuary. For the church to effectively minister to families, Christians need to be in each other homes, offering relief through babysitting, bringing meals, and counseling with the tired. As disciples of Christ, we are called to count others as more significant than ourselves, looking out for the interests of the new mommy, the well-worn mother of five, and the parents struggling with acclimating a newly adopted child.
Placing the interest of others above our own is not easy for singles, senior adults, young couples, or anyone else for that matter. There are a million reasons why not to care for families ranging from jealousy to “I already did my time.” But the basis for our service is not found in what we have or have not done. It’s found in what Christ did and does. If you think changing a dirty diaper is nasty, then think about how repulsive our sin stained skin looked to Christ. We were perpetually nasty and didn’t even have the angelic factor of a newborn or the curious intelligence of a gradeschooler to make us attractive. Yet, God humbled himself so that we might live. He loved us when we were his enemies. If we love Christ, we cannot help but want to be like Christ by humbling ourselves to care for others, even the snotty-nose kiddo’s!
When we do love families with kids running crazy, we cause Christ to shine bright in this dying world. I’ve heard many an exhausted mom rightfully rave about a friend who took their children for a day. And having been loved well by my church family following the births of my two sons through cards, meals, visits, and some late night home nursery care, I can testify of how the selfless care of others strengthens a parent’s hearts.
Admittedly, looking out for others is not natural to us. I frequently have to ask my wife to forgive me for saying something rude. But in Christ, we are new creations, capable of truly loving others. And looking out for the interest of others does not end with the local family. It extends to the entire body of Christ and to the lost world. I fear that many parents feel the need to escape from their kids on Sunday morning because we have not effectively cared for families Monday through Saturday. There are many ways by which we can improve our care for families such as starting a “new mother’s response team “or having a Sunday school class adopt families offering to babysit for free once a month. The solution for each church family will undoubtedly be different. But the need to look out for the interest of others reaches us all!