There are few places I go where children are as celebrated as when I am in church. From the nursery room, filled with rockers and soft toys to the high school ministry building with couches and comfy chairs to gather on, kids are a big deal.
When our boys were tiny they spent approximately ninety-minutes every Sunday morning being rocked and sung to, being loved and taught about the love Jesus had for them, just by the touch they felt from the volunteers. As they grew the classrooms and teachers changed, but the goal was the same. Teaching our boys to know the love of God through the interactions they had each Sunday morning.
Fast forward nearly twenty years later, our sons are no longer being signed into classrooms, receiving last instructions to behave and have fun with their friends. They are on their own now, crafts and papers are no longer hanging on our fridge. But my husband and I are still at church every Sunday, wearing our badges, checking in kids, walking the halls as part of the security team.
Even though we no longer have “kids” we are still committed to kids. To their spiritual growth and even emotional growth through the church. It isn’t our generation, my husband’s and mine, that makes the future of the church, it is the children now, the next generation, who may impact the world, for the last time, to come to Christ.
There was a time, just a generation or so ago, when children were expected to be still in the sanctuary sitting next to their parents. No “Sunday school” sorts of classes were held. There may have been a nursery room, but nothing like today.
When our sons were in elementary school we attended a church that took training in up the next generation seriously. The very wise children’s director, Valerie, said, “There is no junior Holy Spirit. There is only the Holy Spirit.” She new first hand with her own children, the importance of teaching the children from birth forward, that Jesus was real, His love was tangible, and the relationship they could have with Jesus would change their lives.
I am grateful for the men and women who took the time out of their schedules each week to pour God into our sons. To listen to their hearts and concerns and to pray for them. I know that the prayers offered on behalf of our sons were heard and answered, the the word of God will not come back void, and that no matter what my sons may choose, the word of God was planted in their hearts. Those words, verses, songs, and messages have a way of coming back to mind in our lives when we need them most.
My heart, O Best Beloved, is that you will look around you and realize that you too, are called to reach to the next generation. Your hour or two each week could be the time a child needs to know that the environment around them has hope. That they have value, that they are precious, and prized, and valued and loved, and treasured above all things.
Does that mean commitment? Yes. Does that mean re-prioritizing your schedule? Probably. Will it be worth it? Definitely.
I know plenty of stories of families whose eternity was changed when their child attended a Sunday school class, a Vacation Bible School camp, or were invited to go to a youth camp. Eternity is the end game. That is what really matters.
What is going to be your legacy for the next generation? A busy schedule? A half-hearted attempt? Or is it going to be a season dedicated to loving, teaching, and coming alongside the next generation- who may be the ones to impact the world one more time for Christ before His return?
It’s up to you.