***taken from a message I preached***
Mark 10:13-16 Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he became angry and said to his disciples, "Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."
Then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them.
It is so important to be a good influence on our children and shape our kid's spiritual lives. But it's not just the responsibility of the parents. This is where you come in.
There are many churches that are filled to the brim with old people. In 20 years time, what will happen to the church? What happens when those oldies die? It sounds harsh, but it's so true. In 20 years time, that church will close it's doors, because there are no "kids" that can rise up and take over.
As lovely as it is to have grey haired ladies, and balding short old men, our churches need the vitality and life that is bought in by youth and children. Yes they make noise. Yes they make mess. Yes they break things. Yes they are a strange breed, and hard to understand, but we should not let barriers such as this stop us from going out and doing our utmost to influence and minister to them. We should be doing our very best to keep the young in our church, so we can raise and train tomorrow's leaders.
In verse 13 it says “Some people brought their children" -to be blessed by Jesus. It doesn't say, the parents brought their kids, or the family brought their kids, it says SOME PEOPLE. Some people is YOU. Some people is ME! ANYONE can bring children to Jesus. It's not the responsibility of the parents alone.
I read some interesting statistics that I would like to share:
a. 19 out of 20 Christians are saved before the age of 25.
b. After age 25, 1 in 10,000
c. After age 35, 1 in 50,000
d. After age 45, 1 in 200,000
e. After age 55, 1 in 300,000
f. After age 75, 1 in 700,000.
Looking at these stats, it is wise to go after the young. To focus as much as possible our ministry to the young.
Decide right now to not have the attitude of the disciples, and not do our utmost for the kids. They saw the kids as insignificant. Adults are more important and needed Jesus' teaching more. Not so. Jesus was not impressed by this attitude, and instructed the disciples to bring the children to him.
Influence these children by your example. Kids are watching YOU. Do you know how they learn to worship? By watching YOU! Do you know how they learn about Christianity? Not by listening to sermons, but listening to YOU! You need to be very careful in what you say and do, because little eyes are watching and listening.
Encourage participation! Kids LOVE to feel like they fit in and are involved in some way. My 3 year old son has been involved in the sound system set up and pack up. This team is 100% men - and they have recognised that my son, who is such a blokey bloke, LOVES to be with them and help them. He is unloading the trailor, fiddling with the knobs, helping plug things in... My 5 year old daughter rushes out of Sunday School to help stack the chairs at the end of the service. She wants to serve, and the set-up and set-down team have recognised this and have involved her. Get kids taking up the offering, greeting people at the door, serving communion - doing something to get them involved. As time goes on, youth can start joining the church band, giving worship life and a new sound.
This generation is influencing and shaping the next.
What will happen if you decide to do this?
My husband and I went to an Easter Camp in outback Queensland. It was a very laid back sort of time, but every morning and evening there were services. During the first service, a couple stood up and introduced themselves as the kids workers. They were amazing! They said, “We are NOT a baby-sitting service, we are here to ignite a passion for Christ in your kids”
My jaw dropped, All I could say was WOW!! They were there by design to influence, shape and equip, even if it was for 2 short days.
But that whole church had a mentality of making sure that the young were catered too and being influenced. I saw a young lad who I knew as a 3 or 4 year old. His grandparents had been bringing him to church. And there he was 11 years later, a strapping great lad in his mid-teens, worshipping his God with all his heart. How wonderful for the grandparents who have been investing in his spiritual wellbeing, to see a teenage boy unashamed and passionate for God.
This was a camp, and going to services were optional. I saw three kids sitting by the fire, away from the services. The rest of the kids were in service, by their own choice! We aren’t talking about a few kids – there were STACKS of them! Youth were up the front, worship leading... and we aren't talking mediocre, low quality stuff - we are talking passion, desire, talent and reaching out to touch God.
This too can be your church. Just bring the youth and kids to Jesus. Serve them. Minister to them. Influence them. And you will see the fruits in seeing young people rising up and training the next generation.
We can't think of the here and now, we have to focus on the future generation.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God. The LORD is the only God. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children.
Lord I pray you Word will go out and strike deep into the hearts of those who need to hear it. I pray that you will prompt every single person who reads this to feel responsible for the youth and children in their world, that will inspire change and action. I pray that as we influence our children, you will help us raise up the next generation who will be even greater than us.
In your name, amen