Mark 10:13 – 16, “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
Many assemblies today have children’s programs, whether they are called VBS, Awana, kids club, summer camp, or one of the many other names given. They all generally have two main goals – to see children and their parents converted to Christ, and to build up the faith of young believers. One could also argue a main goal is the training up of leaders through these programs. These programs have been around much longer than my time on this earth and I suspect will be of vital importance until Christ returns.
An Alarming Trend
Even with the majority of assemblies having these programs, there seems to be a downward trend of attendance and professions of faith in this type of environment, at least in my observation. For the believers this can be very disheartening. We as humans crave to see results from our work; we want to see that what we are doing has eternal effect and reward.
While we know that God works out of what we consider our timeline, one sows while another reaps (John 4:37), the joy of seeing someone enter into an eternal relationship with their Saviour is second to none. I myself have experienced this on a couple different occasions. I can confess there is no greater feeling to know that you were used of God in this mighty way. When these children’s programs go on for months and even years without a profession, it can become very discouraging.
The purpose of my next few articles are to encourage you to consider changing your children’s work if needed, to be fervent in prayer, and to have patience and continue on.
Don’t Beat a Dead Horse
If things are not working, change them. Why keep doing the same thing over and over with no results? The Bible doesn’t give us a how-to on what format works best for reaching children. Instead of doing the same thing over or giving up on children’s work, look for new and creative ways to reach families. Try changing locations, times of week or day, activities that appeal to families today. If you have had a program for years without results this might be the case for your work. Start praying, ask God if there is anything hindering the work, ask Him what way He wants it done. What has worked in the past might not work now.
Consider Christ’s approach when witnessing, He always adjusted to the current situation where needed. He focused on knowledge with Nicodemus (John 3), and finances with the young rich ruler (Mark 10). Likewise we might have to adapt to our current situation.
In the world today, parents are more suspect about leaving their children unattended with strangers or people they aren’t acquainted with. Children are also more likely to utilize computers and phones, rather than physical books. These are just two examples of changes that have largely taken place within the last 10 years.
A Careful Examination is Needed
Have you as an assembly ever examined how you do things with the work and asked why it is done in that fashion? While this is a good exercise in all aspects of the local church and personal lives, it might be of vital importance in the effectiveness of reaching children and their parents. For example, instead of just inviting the children out for the weekly events, why not invite the parents for a coffee time upstairs while the children are downstairs? This allows the parent to keep active watch on the child when needed, giving them assurance while they get to hear the gospel themselves .
Do we truly believe that with God all things are possible? I am not referring to trivial things as to which that verse is always taken out of context. But rather the saving power of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. The disciples in Matthew 19 asked who can be saved, Christ then took the focus of the conversation off of what can man do, but rather what God can and did accomplish. We need to do the same. We need to stop focusing on what we can do to further the work of God, and focus on what God can do through us.
Prayer is Needed
Whether there is change needed or not, prayer is what will point us in the right direction. Without seeking God’s will nothing will be accomplished. What value do we in North America put on prayer? I myself struggle in this area of my walk. My prayer life is heavily lacking. Examine Philippians 4:4-9. Do we put those verses into practice? Do we rejoice always (4:4), do we pray always (4:6), do we think right always (4:8), finally do we practice rightly always (4:9)?
Should this not be the pattern of this area of work? Do we rejoice we have a message that can save, that is it not from ourselves but God? Do we pray for those receiving the message, specifically the children, or are we anxious that it is not effective? Do we think about what God’s will is for the work, rather than our own? Lastly, do we practice what God has shown us, or do we follow our own will?
Remember God loves these children infinitely more than you or I could. He did after all send His Son to die for them. He longs to see these young ones enter into His family. He is not willing for any of them to perish, but rather wants all to come to repentance. Let us not be a hindrance to His work, but a channel for it. Be fervent in prayer for this work and all others.
In my next article I plan on sharing my testimony and the importance of patience within the context of children’s work. God reached me through children’s work, and without it I would not be in His family.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other author or an official position of the assemblyHUB team.