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Unveiling Our Beating Heart: More About Exploring the Identity of Children in the Global Methodist Church

"Jesus overheard them and said, 'I want little children to come to me, so never interfere with them when they want to come, for heaven's kingdom realm is composed of beloved ones like these! Listen to this truth: No one will enter the kingdom realm of heaven unless he becomes like one of these!'" Matt. 19:14-15 (emphasis mine)

I have to hand it to Jesus and his communication skills. He was not ambivalent about children; he was clear and concise. Bring the children here to be loved at Jesus' feet. Even a casual reading of the gospels will show that this is a priority for Christ. What would happen if we made children our priority? How would that affect our communities? Our culture?

When you are asked, "What did Jesus do while on earth?" How do you respond? Do you say, "He healed, did miracles, died for our sins...and other stuff?" Or do you shout, "He loved the children and told us to love them too! Let's go out and affirm the kids!"

Is that just me? Ah. I see... but still. What if we took Jesus seriously and loved children the way He taught? What if we bought into what He said and realized that children are the Kingdom of Heaven? What if we finally learned the value of our children?

Children are the beating heart of our homes, families, and communities. Our congregations lack life, joy, purpose, fun, and hope without them. As a group, the GMC needs children. We may also want them, but the fact is, at the risk of repeating myself, we NEED them.

To love the children as Jesus commanded us, we may have to do several things differently or many things that we have not been willing to do until now. If our congregations have not welcomed and served children as Jesus wants, we must change how we work.

What precisely must we do? What is needed to love our children and bring them to Jesus? How do we serve our children without interfering with their eagerness for His ways?

  1. What vision has the Holy Spirit given you for children? Pray and seek the Holy Spirit's guidance if you desire more children and families in your congregation. How can you, where you are and with the resources you can see, reach the children who live in the shadow of your influence? Let that be your catalyst once the Lord has given you the vision. Are there educators among you? Try an after-school homework station. Athletes? Play games! But please remember: not every child is an athlete. Play games that can include children of all physical abilities—shy and academically gifted children. Use who and what you have been given. But do it.

  2. Joy trumps perfection. Encourage people who enjoy children to take part in whatever capacity they can. If we are to love children to Jesus, they need smiling people who are happy to see them and will tell them about the love of Jesus by living it out before them. Ask out loud who in your faith community loves children. Identify those who can patiently, with courage and strength, kindness and fun, live out the gospel's Good News while telling of Jesus. It is not complicated. It is not difficult. It is a beautiful replication of Jesus' love for the children brought to Him. To be Jesus in this world, we must love the children that gather around us.

  3. Realize that children have different needs at different ages and stages. There is no one-size-fits-all program that will serve your children well. Discipleship plans that consider the developmental stages of the children in your care are an essential investment. This is the difference between keeping the children occupied while the important people have Sunday school and leading children to Jesus. We can continue to give sixth graders cartoon coloring sheets and, thereby, starve their spirits, or we can invest in and create challenging discipleship experiences. There are dozens of talented authors and creators with orthodox discipleship material. Seek and find. Read and research. This ministry matters. Give it due diligence.

  4. Ask for support. In your area, creative, energetic, joyful Christian educators are chomping at the bit to help you get started. If your church has a few children and the church ten minutes away has a dozen children and an excellent adult leadership team, swallow your pride. Take your children where they will be given an outstanding Christian education. Stay and help. Combine forces with another faith community. Build where the Lord is already working. Build a group of adults who love children and children who love Jesus. Have fun. Make friends. It'll be great!

Seeking children where they may be found is a mandate for our time. We are commanded by the Eternal Our God to teach our children God's ways and commandments at all times and to be faithful in instructing them in God's ways and word.

This is not an optional activity. It is not an add-on to the Church. It is the reason we exist. Our faith will wither and die without careful, dedicated, and orthodox teaching. Our children matter on every level: physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

Children can be expensive, noisy, and active, but teaching and loving them is essential. We must keep them safe from predators and show them that following Christ leads to a life of abundance and happiness.

Enjoy working for Jesus! Love the children as He did.

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