Most every church says it values kids. And, we should want our churches to have this perspective! Jesus loves children and our heavenly father says children are a blessing direct from him. Kids are also the group most receptive to the gospel. Most Christians embrace Christ by age 13. As the great preacher Charles Spurgeon observed,
He who receives things simply, as a child, will often have ideas which the man who is prone to use deductive reasoning could never discover.
Christians, who want to have greatest possible influence upon the world, must “consider employing those resources in ministry to young people (Barna 2003, 19).”
The Great Disconnect
Sadly, many churches don’t actually invest money into their kids’ zones. On average, most churches spend somewhere around 3% of their budget on caring for kids. As one pastor concluded,
Many Christians today assume they value children, but in practice often treat their kids like the disciples did (Reju 2014, 13).
Because they grew up in impoverished and understaffed kids programs, today’s adults are often content to let their kids use those great flannel graphs located in the back room. Then, the adults run over to Walmart to get a new coffee pot for the fellowship hall. Not surprisingly, kids and young families feel unwelcomed in many churches who say the opposite.
Thankfully, this has not been my direct experience. I have been blessed to be a part of churches that recognize the biblical value of kids and invest heavily in reaching the next generation. Currently, I serve at a church with by far one of the best children’s facilities around. But as important as financial gifts and facilities are, they are not the sum total of what it means to biblically welcome kids.
We actually have to be present with our kids. When Jesus welcomed the little children, he was physically with them, caring for them. He was their savior.
To welcome kids, we too have to be with them. After we create a welcoming space for our kids, we need to fill the space. We have to be ready to hold crying babies, to chase wiggly toddlers and to teach bubbly grader schoolers. And I get that this is not always easy. At times, babies are stinky, preschoolers are messy, and grade schoolers are easily distracted. But our efforts are absolutely necessary.
Kids have to hear the word of God to be saved. And when we take the time to lead a Sunday school class, God uses our lessons and wacky crafts to save the lost! I truly believe God uses Sunday school teachers and nursery volunteers to save and disciple numerous future pastors and missionaries. Though we may have to wait 20 or even 30 years before we see all that God is doing, we now he is moving; our labor is not in vain! Today, I invite all my readers to join with Jesus and invest in the next generation. Get involved in kids ministry and start changing the world!
May God send to his people a more firm belief that little buds of grace are worthy of all of our care. – Charles Spurgeon
Barna, George. Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority . Ventura : Regal , 2003.
Reju, Deepak. On Guard: Preventing ad Responding to Child Abuse at Church. Greensboro: New Growth Press , 2014.