I realize not every church has the same cultural context as mine, but as children’s ministers we all are striving to reach the kids in our community whether that community is rural or inner-city. When we do start bringing these children in to our churches, do they feel welcome? I am thinking primarily about the children coming without their parents.
Not every church has a children’s church (we call it Extended Session) for kids through 5th grade. By design, I limited my Extended Session to kids through age 6. For those children who are not in children’s church or something else during the service, where do they sit?
Do they have a “section all their own” as some churches are apt to do with age-graded ministries? You know, the youth sit here, the kids sit here, the college and careers sit here–some families buck this trend and actually sit together during worship. Or do they sit wherever they can to “stay out-of-the-way?” Either way, it is as though our silent witness to these kids is that “we are glad you are here, but don’t bother us.”
I do not mean to be so harsh, but it does seem to be the truth. Also, I am speaking as one of those kids. That was the way I was treated when I would visit various churches growing up.
I wonder what these children would think and say if a couple came up to them and invited the children to sit with them during church? What if we went a step further and simply “adopted” a child to the point that when they are there without their family, they know they have a “church” family to sit with and take part in all the festivities with throughout the year. What if, because of the impact that family had on the child, he went home and told his mom what was going on and she showed up one Sunday just to see who was doing this to her child? What if she started attending regularly and the Lord saw fit to save her soul?
If this were to happen, what a testimony that would be of God’s grace and mercy he poured out through one family in the local church!
Yes, this is an “ideal scenario,” but what if…
All too often, the local church is too self-absorbed with ministering to self all they can do is discuss these “what if’s.” All you really need to do is find one or two families who would be willing to start this ministry in your church and then sit back and watch what God can do. There are a couple “community kids” my wife and I have adopted; however, it has become much more of a challenge lately as we have been convicted of not bringing our own kids into church with us. Still, we allow the kids to sit with us and treat them as our own. We expect them to sit quietly and either listen or color.
It is my prayer that we as children’s ministers would work in our local church to make the un-churched feel welcome. We are missing out on blessing after blessing by not doing so. This will require a hard-look at your own church. You will have to strip the veneer from “everything we are doing right” to see “what we can do better.” Many times, this is not a pretty sight, but it is necessary nonetheless.
May God humble us all as we seek to reach our children and the children and families in our respective communities.