“One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: ‘Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.’ After laying hands on them, he left.” —Matthew 19.13–15 [MSG]
The Church loves children. Children are cute, uninhibited, truth speakers, and entertaining.
It’s heartwarming to hear them pray and so fun to watch them play on the front lawn, listen to their answers during our Time for Children during the Fellowship Hall worship service, and to hear them sing. But hopefully, our love for children is not just about these things. Our love is rooted in the verse above where Jesus claims that children are “where it’s at!” Or as the Gospel of Mark verse says, “Let the children come to me.”
We take seriously the importance of children in our midst at church. We believe that young children are to be in worship services learning how to pray, how to sing, how to listen and how “to do” church—and why church is important. There are two main themes that run through our children’s activities as we do our part living into our church’s mission statement: We are creating a community of Christians who join God’s work here and now by serving our neighbors far and near.
First, it’s important that we practice the presence of God at church. We remind ourselves to be aware of God’s presence and live into that presence as we love ourselves and love others. When we teach that mindset, we think about how we treat others, talk about others or even think about others. So we ask children, are we acting as if God were right here with us? (Because God is!!)
The second theme comes from Matthew 25:40, which says:
“The King will answer them, ‘Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
If we can teach children—from the time they start coming to us as babies through their elementary years—that we are not here on earth for ourselves but to join God’s work in loving our neighbors, then we are living up to what God asks us to do.
So how do we practice the presence of God and think of others first with children?
It is through our worship services each week. It is in offering Sunday School classes for each grade level (we’re recruiting teachers right now for the fall). It is in providing excellent childcare. It is during Vacation Bible School. It is through singing and Bible studies and trips to the Austin Free Store or Living Center. It is allowing them and encouraging them to lead in worship! It is in offering and supporting a strong Children’s Day Out ministry. It is in knowing that children are the church of today—we don’t have to wait until they grow up to be the church!
Can you sing with me? “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world!” It is such a privilege and honor to be a part of the children’s ministry at TUMC with you. It is my prayer that we will continue to seek God’s guidance as we carry on with this exciting ministry in the days, weeks and months to come!