Every small church wants to have children...or so they say. I mean, after all, kids are the future of the church, right? If you don't have them, it is a sign that you are on your way down and one day your congregation will be gone. So it is a foregone conclusion--you want to have children around.
Or is it so certain. You see, having children in your church comes with a price tag attached. Things aren't like they were when you were a kid coming up in church. They aren't even like they were when you were bringing up your kids. Much has changed and you need to be willing to pay the price or you may end up tearing your church apart.
So what is the price you have to pay? Here are some things to consider. You may be able to add to the list.
1. Many young parents were not raised in church and do not know "traditional" church protocol as far as their kids go. They don't know that their children should be made to sit down at certain times or be quiet at others. If they will take cell phone calls right in the middle of worship (and I have seen this), then what makes you think they know the "rules of decorum" about making their kids behave.
What this means is that you will have children making noises when you think they shouldn't. They will be allowed to roam when you believe they ought to be still. My small church currently meets in a daycare. I have been preaching and had a child get right up under me to get a toy they spotted. At another church a little girl was allowed to talk loudly during the sermon. What was really annoying was the parents were just as loud as they called themselves calling her down.
In other words, if you want children around you are going to have to change your perception of what it means to do all things "decently and in order." You are going to have to make up your mind that some distractions are ok because it is worth it to get to minister to these precious kids.
2. To minister to today's kids you must value children's souls more than your building. Now on the surface, this sounds almost ludicrous. Of course the soul of just one child is of far more infinate value than the finest church house ever built. But if you try to minister to children, this conviction will be put to the test.
Your precious walls will get scribbled on. The fabulous carpet you just installed will get stained. Your fantastic hymnals will have pages torn out (and so will the pew Bibles--oh my!). Your beautiful monument of a building that you built for the glory of God will not be quite so pretty because of the wear and tear--it just comes with the territory. I know, you weren't allowed to do such things in your time. See point number one above.
3. The children you spend years and many dollars ministering to may not become your future church leaders. Anyone with a kids' ministry invisions the day when those beaming little faces at the Christmas program become the teachers, deacons, and pastors of this church someday. But it doesn't always work out that way. Many times you will pour your life and resources into children only to have them grow up and move their membership down the road and lead some other church. Can you handle that? Are you willing to train leaders for other congregations knowing that your own church may suffer for it?
4. Speaking of years and dollars, children's ministry is expensive in both time and money. Gone are the days that a few toys and a Sunday school book were all that's needed to reach the hearts of kids. Real intensive outreach to these precious ones will take plenty of money for the right resources and plenty of time invested in preparation as well as in their lives. The world gladly pays this price. Will the modern church?
I'm sure you can think of other costs to the church that would have children. Before you launch out into this ministry, you need to stop and consider if you are willing to pay the price. I can tell you this. Seeing the work of Jesus in the heart of a child is worth all the disruptions, all the destruction to your building, all the time and money you can invest.
The disciples were told that Jesus desired to have the children come to Him. He told them it would be better to have a stone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause a child to stumble. They learned that Jesus loved to bless the kids and that they were the example to grown people of the faith needed to enter heaven. If our Lord feels this way about children, can we justify not paying the price to reach them? I think you know the answer. Rejoice in all your costs that God has allowed you to have children in your church.
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