Does the church value children? That is the question I have been wrestling with for several weeks. I am not talking about the amount of money that we spend on them. I am thinking more about our involvement with them. At Open Door, we recently completed a large expansion that was specifically designed for children. It really is an amazing place and we are excited about the learning opportunities it will give our children. We have for several years provided a full time pastor for children whose sole objective is to minister to their needs. Every Sunday, volunteers spend their time teaching and caring for them. But I still ask the question, does the church value children?
According to the dictionary, value means: “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something”. Deserve. Important. Worth. Useful. This is beyond the buildings we provide or even the services that we offer. To value something requires diligence and investment. Not just an investment of our money. It requires an investment of our time, our energy and our talents. Let’s take a look at those three words that describe value: important, worth and usefulness.
Important indicates priority; something that is high on our list. Children must be important and not just in our budgets. They must be important as we prioritize our time and energy. We cannot just hire others to do things that we as family (biological and church) can do. We must be personally involved. If it is important to us, we make time for it in our schedule. When we serve them, we should be prepared to give them our best. Excellence should be the standard by which we measure our efforts. When we are with them, they should get our attention. There are so many things to distract us, but they need us. We will not get a second chance to raise that child. Listen to them. Watch them when they ask you to, even if they are doing a silly dance. Read the Bible with them. Pray with them. We must not just treat them like our children, but also our brother or sister in Christ. Every conversation does not have to be childlike in content. We can conversate with them about our own relationship with Christ. Set an example for them to live by. They are watching us and will learn from us whether we realize it or not. We have to be intentional so they learn what is important. For us to value children, they must be important.
What is the life of a child worth? Is it worth the investment of our money? Is it worth the investment of our time? For things we consider to have worth, we spend great amounts of time and money taking care of and protecting. We put great value on our homes, our automobiles, jewelry and clothing. We take care of them because we want them to achieve the maximum usefulness. We want those material things to last as long as possible with great efficiency. When we put high worth on our children, we will go to great lengths to make sure they achieve their full purpose for which they were created. We have to invest time and energy for them to achieve their maximum potential. We spend time making sure our investments perform optimally. We must understand that the greatest investment we have in this life are the children God has given to us. Some material things may have great worth to us. In reality, children are priceless. Part of recognizing their worth is shown in how we pray for them. Not just for today, but for their future. Pray for their future spouse, the children that they may have and the impact that they will have on the kingdom for eternity. Serious, intentional prayer shows how much we think they are worth.
How useful do we view the children of our church? Do we allow them to serve? Do we ask their opinions? Do we let them contribute to programs or services? Or do we relegate them to their own area of the building only to be seen at Christmas or special events? Useful would indicate that we make them an integral part of everything we do. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that children should not be rejected or ignored in Luke 18:16 NLT 16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Not only can children learn something from us, Jesus indicated that we can learn from children. We need to recognize the usefulness of children in our church and world.
Valuing our children does not happen by accident. We must be intentional about this process. We must recognize the importance, the worth and the usefulness of our children. As a church, we need to focus on what we can do to make children a more important part of our church family. We cannot just throw money at them. When we say “our church”, “our” must include children as well.