Leonard Sweet is considered a “futurist.” He travels the country inspiring thousands of pastors to come into this century with their thoughts and actions. Once he was speaking about his childhood and said his mother never wanted to isolate him from anything—instead, she wanted to insulate from everything. I loved that idea! He went on to explain how insulation is used when building a house and how important it is. The insulation protects the house from outside elements, which may harm the house.
This is exactly what we need to do for the kids in this country: insulate them. Give them a covering of Christ (1 John 4:4) and protection from outside elements, elements which will bring them harm. The insulation does not show on the outside, but if it is missing, you can sure feel it on the inside. The same is true for kids.
The influence we as Children’s pastors, directors, coordinators, leaders, teachers and even advocates extends beyond the terms we use to describe our leadership roles. Our work continues on to youth, college, women’s, men’s, recovery, and even senior adult ministries. Those who have dedicated their time to see kids know and love Jesus are essentially laying a foundation, building a house and putting in very important insulation. No matter the age of the house (child), the insulation will be remain often hiding from the naked eye.
Kids do grow up.
Sometimes I think people really forget the fact that kids are on their way to adulthood. The Bible clearly states in Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”.
Research indicates that moral foundations are laid by age 9, and people’s beliefs are formed before they become teenagers and change very little as adults.
This research further confirms that most people make a decision regarding their faith and relationship with Christ’s by the age of 12.
“The implication of these findings is clear: anyone who wishes to have significant influence on the development of a person’s moral and spiritual foundations better exert that influence while the person is still open-minded and impressionable, in other words, while the person is still young. By waiting until a person is in his or her late adolescent or teenage years, the nature of influential attempts must be significantly different, because the spiritual foundation has already been formed and integrated into the person’s life. At that stage, spiritual influence requires a more complex process to dislodge what already exists prior to replacing it with a divergent perspective. Research data and personal experience inform us that it is far easier to have influence before the foundations are firm. The older a person gets, the more difficult it is for him or her to replace existing moral and spiritual pillars? George Barna
Every time I hear this I feel like no one is listening. I can’t even tell you how many beautiful, large churches I’ve seen which are dedicated to adults—their every thought, whim, or need—but have unattractive, unsafe, and unaccommodating areas for kids. These churches seem to totally disregard the fact that spiritual beliefs are irrevocably formed while people are still pre-teens.
Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, states, “Childhood—we get only one pass at it, and yet it dictates the quality of the rest of our lives. What we think, feel, experience, and endure in this earliest phase is the single most important indicator of what the rest of life is going to be like.”
In a culture where kids are invited to participate in an array of ungodly and sometimes even dangerous activities, they need guidance and answers, which will bring them a life filled with joy. God’s Word holds the answers to all their questions about life and about the future. The Bible is where kids will get to know Jesus and learn about what He has done for them.
There is no way to isolate our kids from the world or take them away from our fast paced society, nor would most of us want to. But, if we insulate our kids with good values, Christian character, and a relationship with Jesus Christ, we give them the greatest chance for a solid future.
The church is where we can begin to insulate the precious kids we minister to. The church is different from the world, because it is not self-centered. It is God-centered and people-focused. Church is the place where kids can find the only relationship that will sustain them in this world. Everything created is credited to God—the world is God’s, and no one is smarter or more brilliant in thought or deed than Him. He is alive, and when kids are at church, they can feel the difference we all feel. Only God can do this, and the church is where we can truly insulate this generation.
If we are going to save a world of kids, we are going to have to take risks. Unfortunately, not all churches are ready to risk anything.
Hundreds of churches believe they should not compete with the world, and in a world so full of modern advances, some churches believe there is no way they could compete. What they fail to realize, though, is that they are already competing whether they want to or not, and in most cases, they are failing miserably. Many churches have just given up and have become boring, predictable, and irrelevant to kids. “The tendency of many churches is to settle in, get comfortable and create ‘sacred cows’ that over time become ineffective in discipling believers and reaching the unchurched. Many churches have embraced safety, security, and comfort instead of taking risks and stepping out in faith.”
If you were having friends visiting you from another state while on vacation, where would you recommend they take their kids for fun? If you lived in California you might suggest the beach, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Universal Studios. You might want them to experience Sea World or maybe The San Diego Zoo. Undoubtedly, you would suggest they eat somewhere really fun and kid-friendly, such as a theme restaurant, a restaurant where the chefs cook the food right in front of you, or one where the servers put on a show or are in character. You would want them to go to places, which they would never forget, have fun, and make some incredible memories. Most children’s pastors and volunteers would have to admit that the children’s ministry program at their church would probably not make it on the list of suggestions. They know those other places are more fun, more exciting, and evoke more emotion than their ministry does.
It does not have to be this way. Personally, I don’t want children’s ministry to just make the list. I want it to be on the top of the list!
It is not just about entertainment; it is about giving the kids something they want, something they can feel, something full of excitement, and something they can’t get anywhere else. There were times in my ministry when parents would tell me their kids were looking forward to their time at church more than anything else during the week.
These kids were not just anticipating their time of fun; they were anticipating their time with Christ.
I know kids who would begin negotiations with their divorced parent’s weeks in advance to make sure they would not miss out on the exciting programming at church.
There is absolutely no reason why kids cannot enjoy church.
I can’t think of a single reason why God would not love to see his kids rushing to get in line at church, be on the worship team, find a seat, hear the Word, and study the Bible.
Can you imagine the kids in your ministry daydreaming about spending time within your ministries and within God’s clutch?
Imagine a mother saying to her child, “Honey, after you clean your room, empty the trash, finish your homework, and brush your teeth, I will take you anywhere you want to go…somewhere fun just for you, wherever you want!” Can you imagine if her child were to answer, “I want to go to church, your church!”