CARING FOR THE PRESENT
by Amy Bishop, Director of Children and Family Ministries
Have you ever heard anyone say that children and youth are the future of the church? I would have to say that I disagree, the children and youth are not the future of the church. The children and youth are the church now. They are the church present. According to the Barna Research Group, 64% of adult Christians decided to follow Jesus before the age of 18. And the older a person gets without accepting Christ, the less likely they are ever to do so. The evangelistic impact on people today is getting younger. The study also points out that children and youth are most impacted evangelistically by family members and peers, Sunday school, children’s church and Vacation Bible School.
If you were to stop by St. Paul any weekday, you would find 100 children engaged in interactive learning. On Wednesday evenings, boys and girls are here as they build relationships and learn to praise Jesus with their voices. On Sunday mornings kids are learning Bible stories and about the many ways Jesus wants us to live.
On Sunday evenings, children are learning to follow Jesus’ example of serving others through hands-on service projects.
Biblically, women and children, both, were not very important. If you were counting the number of persons present at an event, women and children were not even counted in Bible times. Even the disciples had an issue with children and their potential to bother Jesus. But Jesus wanted the children around!
This issue has to be an important one as it is recorded in three of the Gospels. The story may be found in Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17. From Mark 10:13-16 we read,
“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Children and youth matter, not just as future adults but as present and now children and youth! Jesus loved the children and the children loved Jesus. Because Jesus loved the children so very much, we too model Christ in the ways we love our children and youth.
Our children grow up way too quickly. We need to give them our best while we have them here at St. Paul. And, if we want the present and now children and youth to be in the future church as disciples, leaders, and tithers, we need to appreciate and pay attention to them now.
Are you giving our children and youth your best?