As a dad, when my son was younger and was playing baseball, in addition to the practices and ball games, I used to take him outside and play catch. I also took him to the batting cages to hit. I knew that if he was going to know how to play ball, I would have to be involved. I also made his practices and games a priority. Missing a practice and especially a game was not an option. Gwen and I were committed to him playing baseball. So at six years old, Joshua didn’t miss the three weekly two-hour long practices, the twenty five scheduled games, and the numerous “unplanned” scrimmages during the twelve-week long spring baseball season. The league president used to say, “do it because you love your kids.”
Even to the casual observer, it appears that the Church in America has been losing successive generations for quite some time. Much has been said about philosophy, planning and providing effective ministry that can “reach” the generation.
The solution just isn’t that complicated. The main ingredients involved can be summed up with following three words: priority, commitment and love.
While developing well-rounded kids is important, even beyond sports, the arts and extra-curricular activities, children and their spiritual instruction is God’s priority. In Deuteronomy chapter six, the nation of Israel had just come out from their desert wanderings. The previous generation of “unbelief” had died off and a new generation emerged, one with the heart of “faith” who were willing to act on God’s promises and inherit the Promise Land.
With this new generation of believers, the concern was that the next generation would regress and become like the generation that died in the wilderness. The preeminent question became, “What must be done to preserve future generations?” The answer was clear, they must be taught about God by both their parents and the community as a matter of priority.
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
From this passage, we can clearly see God expects parents and the whole community of faith to be as committed to teaching their children about God and His ways at least as much as I was committed to teaching Josh about baseball.
Yet, it seems like teaching kids about Jesus in some circles, is not as valued as it should be. This should not be the case, since God highly values spiritual instruction for children. One can easily make the case that teaching kids about God is more important than any other ministry in the local Church. For in addition to children being instructed by their parents at home (which is the primary way children are to learn about God), children need supplemental instruction by “other voices” in the body of Christ.
If a Church body catches the heart of God, then that Churches’ children’s ministry will have a waiting list of people who are willing to teach children. Our children are our first and most important mission field!
Let’s be honest, teaching children, especially for those who have long since had children living under their roof, does not appeal to the flesh. It is not a “glitzy” ministry. Too many people think of teaching children as babysitting. How short-sighted! However, if we are willing to “die a little” to the flesh and volunteer a couple of hours that we are so willing to commit to leisure, we will pass the faith on to the next generation. Those who choose to do so, will touch the very heart of God.
Would you be willing to take a few minutes to hear the story of a couple of our children’s ministry volunteers who decided to “die a little to self” in order to reach kids for Jesus? Click the link here to hear their inspiring story of how God is moving in the hearts of kids in our Church.
Would you be willing to help preserve the next generation at The Church of the Cross? If so, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.