Most church congregations in North America are aging at an uncontrollable rate. Some churches are feeling the pressure of out-migration, while others refuse to integrate the younger generation in their services. Some may even feel as though the Sunday morning service is a public service and should be respectful and quiet for mature adults. Eventually, however, our aging congregations will cease to exist and our ability to reach those in need will dwindle with it as well. We need to do whatever it takes to include and celebrate children! As a Pastor of a younger assembly, I believe there are three reasons why we must do so…
Kids are welcomed by Jesus
Matthew’s gospel gives a lot of attention to kids. The book speaks of the innocence (2:16), future (10:21), faith (18:1-5), salvation (19:13-15), simplicity (21:15), and vulnerability (27:25) of children. Of particular importance, are the passages found in Matthew 18 and 19. The gospel calls us to be “child-like.” This is not to be confused with “childish.” Jesus said that we need to accept him like a child – asking no questions and giving unconditional love while living in complete dependence on God.[i] With this sort of focus and dependence it’s easy to understand why Jesus said the kingdom belongs to children.[ii]
Kids bring something unique
One grandmother in our local assembly[iii] recently posted on our facebook page[iv]. She said:
I…feel so abundantly blessed to have so many children in our congregation. They are a joy to watch every Sunday as they, in their own unique little way, add so much to our services.
Children aren’t bound by societal expectations. It’s one of the best things I enjoy about kids – they’re innocence causes them to view God in a simple way. Adults could learn a lot from the unique innocence of children.
Kids are the church of tomorrow
I believe that Jesus could return at any moment. That means two things: (1) it could be today; and, (2) it could be in another 2000 years. In either case, we’ll never know the day until it happens. If time does pass by, the children of today will be the church of tomorrow. If there’s no church to proclaim the gospel message of hope, peace, joy and love, who will let them know? As the church of today, we need to invest in the possible church of tomorrow.
For these reasons, we need to keep kids not only in church, but engaged in church. We need to continue to teach and disciple them, while encouraging them to worship, love, and serve. Let’s do whatever it takes to be a people who love kids and create environments where kids can be a part of what God’s doing!