I was in the middle of teaching a lesson on creation, an overview introductory lesson. I had prepared a fast-paced, high-energy class with videos, games, and activities.
While all those things did take place, I was blown away by the depth of conversation in this class. I was asked questions about why the world was so broken when God originally made it perfect, why God didn’t force Adam and Eve to love Him, and how we know if we will live with God one day.
These were questions from children ages 4 – 11 — deep questions many teenagers are afraid to voice, but children are brave enough to ponder out loud. Children have remarkable faith and trust in God’s goodness to pray for the little things, from owies to pets. They also have remarkable acceptance of the good news when they hear it.
I’ve been blessed to serve in children’s ministry for many years through Vacation Bible School, children’s church, summer Bible programs, and most recently a leadership position at my church. Over and over, I am amazed at how much the mind of a child can comprehend. I am encouraged by the depth of questions children freely ask about the Bible. I am convicted by the enthusiasm they have to learn about God and talk to Him. I wonder at how they can thank God for the things that adults consider insignificant. I have rejoiced to hear one child tell another about the gospel or encourage a friend to consider being baptized.
Psalm 8:2 tells the truth: “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.”
Children truly are a blessing from the Lord, but sadly, current events have demonstrated how our culture does not treasure them. According to research done by Live Action, 2,363 children are killed via abortion every day. Child Abuse Statistics state that child abuse is reported every ten seconds. And according to Statista, in 2020 more than 618,000 victims of child maltreatment were identified.
Social media promotes selfish parenting styles and portrays children as burdens. Most recently, the closure of schools for the pandemic shows how quickly children are pushed to the backburner. As a counseling psychology major, I know the psychological damage of isolation and masking on children.
Do we value children as God values them? Children are our future, the next generation. Who is leading them to the gospel? Who is preparing them to face spiritual battles? Who is training them to shine for Christ in a dark world? Electronics have replaced good parenting for many children. It is time we make needed changes based on how Jesus treated young ones:
They were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Luke 18:15-17).
Jesus called the children to Himself, but notice that first the parents were bringing their children to be touched by Him. Are we bringing our children to the feet of Jesus? Are we modeling excitement for God’s presence and His Word? Are we teaching by example thankfulness for God’s blessings and faith in the power of God to answer prayer?
The Psalms repeatedly say how we are to teach the next generation the wonders of our God:
This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord (102:18).
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (34:11).
We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done (78:4).
Starting at home
Teaching children the praise, fear, and wondrous works of the Lord does not start in the children’s ministry department at church. While we certainly want to teach those things to the kids who come through our doors, the Bible calls for this teaching to start at home: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
I love to teach children about the Bible, to study and memorize God’s Word, and encourage them to pray and ask good questions about the Bible. But I am not the parent. Many of you are. Bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Show them what godliness looks like, what humility looks like, what trusting God looks like. Lead them to our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer.
Though I cannot speak to you as a parent because I’ve never been one, I can speak to you as one who is passionate about children’s ministry. Learn what it means to disciple your children. Know the gospel well for yourself and teach it to them.
What a blessing you have been entrusted with! May the church and her families take Psalm 127:
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.