Learning from Our Children

I recall, several years ago, loading my kids into our minivan. The kids were still young, and it was always a production to get out of the door. Diaper bag, shoes, snacks, water bottles… Even a routine day trip seemed like a trip to the moon.

Once we were finally on our way, my youngest son called out from his car seat, “Mom? Where are we going?” His words struck me. He had no idea where I was taking him. He simply had strapped himself in and trusted that we would eventually end up at the correct destination with everything he needed. My son had complete trust in me.

Trust. When we think of children, words like trust and faith come to mind. That’s a beautiful thing.
As the Church, we often talk about how valuable our children are to us and to the body of Christ.

As churches, we invest time, energy, and money into the faith development of our children. This is right. We should do this. We need to guide and shepherd our children as they grow and mature in their faith.

But…has it ever struck you how much we can learn from our children?

As a parent and a children’s ministry worker, I tend to focus on what I need to be teaching and modeling for my children. In some of my wisest moments, however, I am struck by what children are teaching me.

In Luke 18:16-17, we read, “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’”

Jesus loves children. He pointed to children as an example of trust, faith, and simply receiving the gift of himself. Jesus values the children for who they are, not just who they will be someday.

Our children and young people are displaying riches of faith, vitality, and encouragement today. As churches, we have the privilege of investing in the faith development of our children and young people. We also have the extreme joy of being in fellowship with, and worshiping alongside, our children in our congregations right now.

Just as my son strapped himself in for the drive with complete faith and trust in me, the next generation in our congregations are strapping themselves in and trusting in our loving Father in a way that is profound and encouraging.

As church leaders, we get to disciple and teach them. We also get the privilege of learning from and being blessed by them, while they join us as vital parts of the body of Christ.
How are children a vital part of your ministries and congregation? Here are some snapshots of what I have witnessed in our church family…

Children are a source of life and energy. A few months ago, our pastor began his sermon by asking, “Have you ever been struck by lightning?” To which a child in the congregation exclaimed, “Oh, I have!” The laughter and smiles that erupted from our congregation was, well, electric.

Another Sunday, we had the joy of seeing three siblings brought to the Lord in baptism. The whole morning was very sweet, but my favorite part was when the pastor extended his hand to pray a blessing over the children. The oldest child saw the extended hand in front of him and, with a huge smile on his face, he responded by giving the pastor a joy-filled “high five.” Kids have a way of bringing authentic joy, wonder, and fun to a room. I’m so glad God has placed them in our family!

Children and youth are eager to serve and bless others. Our youth regularly serve in many areas across our congregation. We have a couple dad/daughter teams who regularly run the sound and slides during our worship services.  Our worship arts director referred to one of these 6th grade girls as “one of the most powerful people in the room” on a Sunday.  Her role is critical in supporting the worship of our church family, and she serves with joy and faithfulness.

Our youth volunteers are also critical to our ministry to children in our congregation. This last year alone, we had over 40 youth serve in our kids’ ministry in some capacity. They regularly pour their hearts into loving and leading the children in our kids’ programs. These youth volunteers connect and share the love of Jesus in a meaningful way.

Children model faith and trust. My son showed me trust in our van that day. Our children model trust in much more significant ways, too. The ability of a child to trust and love Jesus astounds me. From the child listening open-mouthed to the stories of Jesus, to the child belting out the words of a favorite worship song, to the child reciting the Lord’s Prayer as we gather in worship… these children are engaging in and believing the words of the gospel. They hear the Word and believe it. It’s simple. It’s beautiful. It’s what we are all called to do.

Children remind us of our utter dependence on God. A child starts out completely dependent on parents or caregivers for basic life needs. That, in itself, is a beautiful picture of our complete dependence on our God. But children have also reminded me of my dependence on God in other ways. Working with children in ministry and as a parent has brought me to a place of joy and panic at the same time. It is challenging and it is an enormous task—completely bigger than I am. Coming alongside our little ones on behalf of our church, I am reminded how much I need Jesus. It brings me to my knees and draws my gaze upwards. It’s not my ministry; it’s his.

Children truly are a blessing in our lives and our churches. It is my prayer that we not only focus on the someday of a child, but on who they are right now. Yes, we give them tools and training so that someday they will grow into adults of faith, character, and integrity. But let us not miss the joy and blessing it is to fellowship, worship, and serve with our children and youth today. These children are the Lord’s precious children. Together with them, we are the body of Christ.

Shana Bronson serves as the Triumph Kids Director at Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church’s West Campus in West Fargo, North Dakota.
This father and daughter team volunteer regularly to run sound and slides for Sunday worship.
Youth volunteers often lead and support children in weekly ministries and summer events at Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church.

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