“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:13-14
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
When listening to Chelsea's sermon on Sunday, I was reminded by an article by the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee called Congregation Prays Graduating Senior Be Protected From Basic Secular Arguments They Never Bothered To Prepare Her For.
Chelsea argued that we need to care about children in the church and that kids are both meant to be discipled and to be seen as disciples themselves. We need to show we care about kids. That means demonstrating that we know them and that we understand them. That means talking to them about things they care about like Thomas the Tank Engine, American Girl Dolls, and Dinosaurs. It means noticing how they are doing and what they like so we can lean into their lives as a positive influence. It means checking in with them and being happy to see them. It means demonstrating that we see their worth as image-bearers of God (something that many of us adults forget or refuse to see in each other). It means getting to know them before we can assume they'll listen to what we adults want to teach them.
After all, as The Babylon Bee pointed out, it does no good to complain about those who grew up and left the faith when we never bothered to invest in the next generation in the first place.
It is also no good to see kids as an inconvenience or to fret about how they will handle crises. They are being thrown into a world full of bullying, high suicide rates, sexual pressures and assault, social media addiction, rape, sexism and racism, drugs, and school shootings—and that's only part of the list!
The world is burning and children need adults to be their firefighters. We need to guide them, love them, and give them the tools so they can carry on the faith. They need to be able to grow up in a tough world with the ability to love themselves and others as God would while also being tough themselves. As it is written in Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
A burning world needs love and children intuitively know this. They are not yet jaded, cynical, and exposed to the way adults often treat each other. Children do misbehave and cause problems for sure. But they know to care, to laugh, to find joy in simple things, to give a hug, and to love others. Often, they do this better than we adults do (especially when driving).
We should be encouraged by this. The work is great. But God is greater. We should not sell ourselves short and we should not give up either. If the trials of our daily lives and the worries for the next generation cause us to throw up our hands in surrender, then let it be to God himself that we surrender! If I am going to give up and say “I can’t do it all, but Jesus, help me take one step,” then he will certainly answer.
I know, I know. I get that we’re busy. And tired. And maybe broke.
So you know your own circumstances. I don’t. And I won’t pretend that I know everything about you or that I have a right to say "do this! or "do that!". All I am saying is that if we profess to care about something, then we at least ought to demonstrate it.
I know from experience that it is easy to pontificate a bit about certain issues, but words only mean so much. Donating is harder. Volunteering is harder. Action is harder.
But if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already been to Skyline a bit or perhaps attend fairly often. Why not help a little more? You’re already there and many hands make light work.
So what makes sense for you and where you are? Can you serve once every other month or once a month in the nursery or at check-in for SkyKidz? Can you give ten to fifteen minutes to help with tear down after church? Can you invite someone with kids to one of the upcoming movie nights? Can you give some neighborhood kids a lift to one of those movie nights? Can you sign up to volunteer for one of them? Maybe you’d rather just put up door hangers quickly and efficiently in an apartment complex? (Hint for the introverts: you won’t run into too many people and the stairs are a good workout.)
These things are harder than saying, “I hope the kids are alright.” As Chelsea said, “You can make a difference or an excuse. But not both.”
God is for the next generation. Are we?
If you missed out on this week's sermon, check it out here.