Why Children Need the Church

Article from Resilient Disciples January 7, 2020

Kidmin leaders are perfectly placed to help parents see their children’s potential in ways they have not previously seen them!

This is why, though parents are important, even primary, in the spiritual direction and discipleship of their children, they are not “only” or even enough. Children may grow in the soil of their parents’ faith, but they need light and air and more.

They need to be “seen” through adult sets of eyes that are less enmeshed than their own parents’ eyes. Children need to be known in ways that may escape their parents.

This is just one of the reasons children need the church.

Children Need to be Part of the “Seeing” Faith-Building Church.

Children have so many needs a church can meet. Children need their childhoods celebrated. Follow the laughter at any time in the church and it will lead straight to the children’s wing. From where do balloons launch? Where do the skits and songs with actions show up? Where do the most fun adults in a church end up serving? Where the kids are! No one does a better job celebrating kids better than the church!

But so much more than joy is happening for children at church. They are being exposed to the outrageous faith of believers within the body. Children who watch adult believers celebrate eternity while weeping at the edge of a newly dug grave are learning about the hope of eternity. When they lift their young voices and join others in praise of a God none of them has ever seen, but who is real just the same, they are learning the holy enchantment of praise and worship. The week-after-week testimonies of radically changed lives, or forgiveness.

When the church exposes them to the needs of the world—the suffering, the hunger, the disease—they may respond and give from their piggy banks, or some young entrepreneurial effort. At church, they join other kids their age who are loving God and bravely making their own counter-cultural journeys. The worshiping face of someone lost in God may draw them to spirituality, even as children. It is within the body of Christ that they are known, spiritually nurtured and made disciples.

What is more life-giving than experiencing a contagious faith in community … the feel of it, the lows and highs of it, the supernatural joining togetherness of it? It is not enough to simply give mental assent to a creed, to nod a passive head in agreement, or understand Scripture intellectually. Our souls need to be captured by supernatural love and power. We need to fall in awe and love with Jesus together. We need to help each other and our children know God. The church is the faith engine driving us to God and to each other. The church has been traveling this spiritual journey for thousands of years and is uniquely able to expose children to that corporate faith.

We can’t let this generation and those to come of children miss that. Soon, in their adult years, they will need to remember their childhood churches and draw supernatural strength from those memories in order to be spiritually resilient in the world they will inherit.

No matter how spiritually adequate the parents, they can’t expose their children to communal faith without the church. Yes, children need their parents spiritually. Parents are primary in a child’s faith development. But kids need more than parents. They need more than Bible truths learned on a screen or read in a book. They need to be part of the living organism of faith, the church.

In the book, Sticky Faith, a case is made for the primary position of parents in children’s faith walk. Parents are influencers, modelers, and conveyers of faith. But even with this emphasis on the role of parents, Sticky Faith encourages parents to develop a “sticky web” of five adults, besides parents, who would walk their child through their faith journey.

What if a church decided to be this kind of faith family for the children who walk through its doors? What if we developed a new focus, with a greater sensitivity to the 50% of American children who live in single-parent homes? What if church became the second home for all kids? What if we fell in love with kids like we never have before?

I believe everything would change. From the children’s wing of the church, a spiritual fire of loving care would spread into the congregation. The church would be revitalized, it would rekindle its desire to reach its community and that would be revival. And it would start with children!

With the shifting landscapes of family decline and heightened cultural influence through technology, how does a church meet children’s needs today? How does a church become a “seeing” church—one that helps parents not miss the amazing children right in their own homes?

A “Seeing” Church Knows More Than a Child’s Name.

It Knows His or Her Story.

Knowing a child’s name is a good start, but it is not the same as really knowing a child. Know their story!

A “Seeing” Church Fills in the Gaps

Knowing a child’s circumstances can help people know how to fill in the gaps, for example when father figures are absent. It can also soften our responses to their behavior. A volunteer was once very challenged by the behavior of a young boy at church. Finally, in exasperation she asked him, “Hey, why are you such a handful”?

Without a pause, he said, “It’s because I’m hungry.” She hadn’t “seen” that gap. She didn’t “know” his story.

A “Seeing” Church Commits to Praying Regularly for Every Child in the Church, Neighborhood and Surrounding Communities.

Take your list of kids to God by name. Who is acting out? Who is struggling in school? Are there signs that they might be hungry? Who is fatherless? What parents are facing unemployment or medical bills and might be struggling to make ends meet? Then spread out your prayers. Is there a neighborhood surrounding your church? Pray that those kids would come through the church doors and that they would be the first of their families to come to Christ. Is there a problem in your community affecting children? Lift the children affected by those kinds of things to God and pray your church will be able to minister to them. Prayer changes everything. Prayers start renewal of God’s people. Praying softens our hearts.

A “Seeing” Church Helps Parents Grasp Their Children’s Spiritual Potential.

Children are nearly always more than we realize they can be. When a church looks at their children, they should see disciples, evangelists, missionaries and kingdom entrepreneurs. They see kids who, even at their young ages, can make an impact on an entire country.

Kids need the church, and they need you!

Kidmin leaders are perfectly placed to help parents see their children’s potential in ways they have not previously seen them!

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