The Importance of Reaching Children
By Josh and Kate Richter
The Christian church is based on a foundation of Jesus Christ through God’s Word, the very Christian principles and values that come with righteousness. That foundation is what all growth in the church can be based upon. With Christianity under the scrutiny of compromise, now more than ever our foundation is being tested, some replaced, others shaken and even cracked. We believe this is most apparent in our children, more than any other demographic, and that by properly training and molding them with uncompromised Christian principles we can secure the foundation of Christianity and fight the temptation to dilute and compromise it.
Believing is something that comes natural to you when you are young. Think about it – if you said to a three year old, “There’s an elephant in the backyard!” what would happen? For us adults, we would immediately begin to evaluate the statement, doubt it, and dismiss as impossible. A child will run to the window, look around excitedly and exclaim “Where?” Children accept what authority tells them unless they are taught not to through adult influences not holding to their word, bad examples in society and in media, or seemingly unimportant negative human interactions which can all impact the life long paradigm that a child will have.
Children are pliable clay that can be molded into God’s given purpose or manipulated into what the world would convince the youth that they should be. Which will we as the church body allow or influence? Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Will we deny the little ones Jesus calls because we think the needs of adults are more important, though it’s really because they are more obvious, or will we humble ourselves and reach out to the kids God has entrusted to us and help guide and direct them into the truths of God and the joy of being His?
As a church body, we have a game plan that God has laid out for us concerning children. It starts with the God-side: God knows each person before they are here on this earth, then He places them in the safest place on earth - the womb, where each child grows and develops into what they need to be to live here. Then they emerge into their natural and supernatural families whose number one purpose is to lead this child who just left the Lord in heaven approximately nine months ago back to Him, Who created him/her. We must re-connect them with the Creator that they just left, and lead them into the purpose that God has predestined for them to accomplish. The church’s responsibility in raising children is this: to train up adults to parent according to the principles outlined for us in His Word and to supplement the teaching in the home with relevant, purpose-driven services for children.
Now, automatically, I would be thinking, “supplement? – that’s right! It’s not our responsibility to raise up the child in the way they should go, it’s the parent’s job to do that!” But, think about your church? Is every family in that environment accurately raising their children to focus on others, be respectful, and regularly teach their children about who God is, what He thinks about them, and their authority as children of God? If so, please, send us what you have done, because we have never seen it. Sure, there are always a few “all-star” families out there that raise wonderful kids with real relationships with God. If all families were that way, there would not be as much of a need for children’s ministry today. But we all know this is not the case. Therefore, we need to provide a fun, safe place for the kids of our church and community to hear the truth of the Word of God which creates an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to draw them, teach them and train them up in the right ways to think, speak, live and grow. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Children come to us with the ability to be built up in their beliefs, to be guided and directed with a sort of ease that is only apparent in children. We believe this is all part of God’s plan. Children are the smooth liquid concrete that can take on the shape it needs to before hardening. We have a limited time in a person’s life to help form their very foundation. Once adults’ beliefs form, and that has been proven to most commonly happen before the age of 13, a sort of chiseling must take place before new can begin, but not with kids! How many times do you have to hear about something before it really starts to affect your thinking? Think about the habits in your life: whether good or bad, to change these developed thought patterns takes some serious work. Not so for kids. With some teaching and demonstration of its value to them, kids grasp it, hold onto it, and will begin to implement it into their lives with little doubt and without the internal struggle we as adults may have.
It all comes down to this: When we were called by God to children’s ministry, my wife’s initial reaction was, “puppets, costumes and hand motions during worship… yea, that’s real ministry alright.” But, as we stepped out in faith, the importance and crucial urgency of the Christian church to take children’s ministry seriously and with earnest pursuit became more and more apparent. Not only were these kids able to receive applicable truths about Christian principles and Christian living, they took it very seriously and shared it with others. Every lesson, whether Old or New Testament, we draw a real life application in consideration to Christ in them. They get it! They live it! They preach it! Their very life thoughts are beginning to be ruled around it. What an honor to be able to be entrusted by God with such a special gift – the responsibility to train up Christian kids who have an accurate understanding of His Word, and are applying it weekly to their lives.
So then, evaluate for yourself: Is it worth it? Is growing the church worth the cost of reaching these kids with the foundational principles the church is based on as they grow? We leave it up to you but will never cease pursuing the hearts of every believer to conceive the notion concerning the importance of young pliable hearts and the role that they play in the future of true Christianity. Let’s do it together.