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The Future Is Now

Jesus and Kids

Then people brought little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there. (Matthew 19:13-15 NIV)

This one incident in Jesus' life shows the value He places on children. Sometimes grownups want children to be out of site and out of mind. When people brought little children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. The mindset is: kids are an inconvenience. Kids disrupt the peace and quiet of proper worship. Jesus is too busy and too important to be bothered by little children.

And Jesus' response rebukes the disciples for rebuking them. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The kingdom of heaven belongs to the child-like. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who have child-like faith in Jesus. Those who trust Jesus like a child trusts their mom or dad are the ones who enter His kingdom.

I believe most Christian congregations do the best they can to minister to children. We instinctively know if we have no children, the future is bleak. When we all age out into assisted living facilities or graveyards, the congregation has little hope of future existence if we are not winning new generations to Jesus Christ. In a church, the sound of a fussy baby is much better than the silence of a congregation without kids.

One of the core values of our congregation is this: The future is now - we invest in the faith of the next generations so we have a future of hope.

We believe that children are not the future of the church - they are the church right now. We believe that children's and teen ministries are vital to our future, and we want to teach the little ones and the teenagers to love Jesus and to follow Him the rest of their lives. We believe the primary responsibility for teaching the faith to our kids is the parents' responsibility, and we seek to partner with them to disciple their children and grandchildren.

A common philosophy in the Church is that Christianity is caught, not taught. The idea is that teaching proper doctrine is not enough and it can leave us with head knowledge about Jesus Christ without heart knowledge of a relationship with Him. That's true as far as it goes.

But I believe the truth is that Christianity is caught and taught. When love for Jesus is modeled in the home and in the church in the lives of people with a real relationship with Him, and the Scriptures are taught and explained to keep that relationship based in the truth of the Word of God, then we have the best chance to pass on the faith from one generation to the next generations.

And so we invest people and time and energy and finances into children's and student ministries at Grace Church. We want our children and teens to experience the love of God and grow in the knowledge of His Word. We involve them now in outreach and service. Our children and teenagers are involved in our outreach to the residents of Morningside of Concord, a local assisted living facility. Our children and teenagers step up from time to time and read the Scripture in our worship services. We invested in their lives at Children's Bible Camp this past summer - sort of Vacation Bible School on steroids. We involved them in Camp Ignite, our missions and outreach week.

We invest in the children and teens because the future is now. Our Club 26 children's ministry and 412 Students youth ministry are expressions of the value we place on our children and teens. The importance can hardly be overstated because of this one historical fact that has been confirmed by multiple research studies: people are way more likely to put faith in Jesus Christ as children and teens than as adults.

A Church of the Nazarene study shows that 85% of born-again Christians say they first trusted Christ between the ages of 4 and 14. Read that again. 85%. Only 10% of all believers say they first came to Christ between ages 15 and 30; and only 4% after age 30. If a child is never taught about Jesus, by age 15 the chances they will ever put faith in Him decreases from 85% to 15%. This trend is confirmed by research from Barna and others.

The future is now. Passing on faith in Jesus Christ to the next generations is important ministry for the church, and it is a core value in our congregation. We live out this core value by making significant investment of people, time and finances in ministry to our children and teens. We hear Jesus say to the church of every age: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


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