I’ll confess up front that I’m in grandparent-mode these days — Poppa, to be more precise — so I’m a little more sensitive to kids and their endearing qualities. Actually, I’ve found my grand-kids a tad more endearing than my own kids were. No disrespect to my children, but I’m grateful for grand-kids who leave my house in a timely fashion when I’m tired and for whom I’m not fiscally responsible.
Children and grandchildren matter in the Bible as well. A lot! The Old Testament version of the great commandment, love God with all you’ve got, emphasizes the significance of modeling that truth with children. It’s especially true for parents but also conveys an urgency for children’s ministry within the church. We should be aware of the subliminal Old Testament theme that any godly culture is only one generation away from moral reversal. One generation’s Christian world-view and vibrant faith can be replaced overnight with a secular world-view and disregard for the community of faith. Every generation runs that risk; this generation is no different. It’s why our church’s ministry to children is more essential than ever. I’d argue that within an increasingly post-Christian culture, children’s ministry should be the church’s prime directive.
This current generation of children is poised to be impacted with the good news of Jesus, a priority he would heartily endorse. We often refer to the charming Jesus pictures in which he places children on his lap to bless them. More than a political photo-op, Jesus confirms that kids have a firmer grasp on the basic essence of trust and faith than we spiritually-sophisticated adults. He’s emphatic when he declares that to welcome a child is to welcome Jesus himself, in Mark 9:37. Kids mattered to Jesus and to prioritize ministry to children is to address the generational continuity of faith. Given the chaotic state of our union, if there was ever a time to invest in that continuity, it’s today.
You may not be enamored with the direction our culture is headed. We grandparent-types commiserate over what’s gone wrong and who’s to blame. The idea of transforming a culture may be daunting and, at face value, borders on the impossible. However, I would suggest that there is a way, and the church has a strategic role to play. It’s been said, “Win the kids, win the culture.” I believe it.
If each of our local congregations took our cue from Jesus and began prioritizing “Win the kids … for Christ,” we would have the potential to see a culture transformed. The precedent is in place with the story that took place 2,000 years ago as Jesus mentored twelve ordinary kids and turned them loose. Let’s invest more resources, energy and prayer into this next generation of potential Christ-followers and commit to welcoming these children as Jesus did. Blessing them as Jesus did. Prioritizing them as Jesus did. One child at a time. As the church partners alongside committed parents these kids have the potential to “win the culture for Christ!”
More information: Rev. Brian Vriesman, Twin Falls Reformed Church, 208-733-6128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.