It’s well known that Jesus welcomed children and was angry with his disciples for trying to keep them away: “Allow them (‘Suffer them’) to come to me!” Jesus strongly warned us not to lead any child away from trust in him (Mark 9:42).
And so every church of Jesus Christ must welcome children too. At half-term we ran a Holiday Club so that children could know Jesus better. Kidz Club, Boys Brigade and Quest Club exist for the same reason and if we’re not providing enough groups we’ll do our best to start others.
But although we can help, the responsibility is yours as parents to bring your children to Jesus, teaching them about him and showing them how to trust him. I hope we will soon be offering some family activities that will give ideas for building this into every-day family life.
Last month I wrote about a typical Sunday morning service in our church but maybe you wondered how children could take part in such a gathering? The simple answer is that generations of children have done this for millennia! It’s only in the last 50 years that we’ve lost our confidence in their capacity for this. But I’m convinced that, from a very young age, children can ‘get’ prayer, can enjoy listening to someone reading the Bible out loud, can sit still enough in sermons to pick up a surprising amount of what is said, can become familiar with the rhythms (and, in time, meaning) of words that Christians have used for centuries, and can stand up on a pew and begin to sing the praises of the Lord Jesus with his people.
It won’t be easy: children are often not used to sitting and listening, and you may feel like an isolated pioneer, but we’ll do our best to welcome you and, when it’s not going well, to support you and not criticize you. We don’t mind noise and wriggling around and, if you need a break, we do provide a room with activity materials where parents can take children (and still hear the service).
How do children learn the value of the dentist, reading good books, family meals, climbing mountains, broccoli or fine wine? It’s a slow process and there’s often much parental training, encouraging, insisting and leading by example. A love for Jesus and his church usually develops the same way.