In God’s house, there’s not a separate children’s table off to the side.
If we haven’t met, my name is Laurel. I work on staff as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator. Children’s Ministry has always been a big part of my life. I grew up going to Sunday school. As I got older, I started serving in various ways, particularly teaching, and I continued to do so into adulthood. A few years ago, I started working for Pacific Crossroads and Children’s Ministry became my full-time job. I realized that as a woman in her 30s who has spent so much of her life serving in Children’s Ministry, I’ve been given a unique privilege to witness some of the ways that God works in his church.
I have watched babies get baptized, seen them grow up in the church, attend Sunday school, learn more and more about God and witness them profess faith in Jesus. To see how God works in his church is incredibly moving. For example, in the last year I have seen the number of youth who are serving in the Children’s Ministry grow tremendously. We currently have 8 youth serving with us and half of those have chosen to serve every week. Did you know that over 50% of the Youth in our church are serving in some capacity? I am blown away by how God is using the Youth at Pacific Crossroads. Can you imagine what it would be like if our adult community even got close to the percentage of the people serving as the Youth?
Since we are an Evangelical church, we strongly believe in sharing the gospel with others. In fact, Christ commands us to do so in Matthew 28:18-20. Generally, the focus tends to be on those who are outside the church. While I agree that it is of utmost importance to reach out and share the gospel with those outside the church, I hope we do not overlook those in our midst who desperately need to hear the gospel too – the kids who show up every Sunday. Jack Klumpenhower in his book, Show Them Jesus, expresses this sentiment, “Church kids don’t just need the good news as much as other kids – they need it more…We assume kids are well-grounded in the good news and that it’s there in the background as we teach other stuff. But what’s assumed is quickly forgotten. Without constant revival from the good news, kids – and adults – start trying to obey God under their own strength and willpower” (58). We need to be active in our church community sharing the good news with the children of our church. It’s one of the reasons we vow at a child’s baptism to come alongside the parents and support them in the raising of their children in the faith.
We live in a time when we are told that young adults are leaving the church in droves and if you look up the statistics, they are alarming. As adults, we know the struggles we face as Christians living in Los Angeles. Take a moment and consider that the children and youth in our community are facing many of those same struggles that you and I face living in this city. I ask you to reflect on how detrimental it could be to assume that the children in our midst will automatically profess faith in Christ because they grew up coming to church. Just as we do, the children need to grow as disciples of Christ. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” What does training require? It requires people entering into the life of the child. Just as much as we need intentional community to surround us as we walk through our lives as Christians, all the more the children need a community to surround them as they grow in the faith. On any given Sunday, we have around 250-300 children and youth attending our church. These are people who need to hear the gospel just as much as you or I. When Jesus speaks of us eating and drinking at his table in his kingdom (Luke 22:29-30), I don’t think he intends there to be a “kids’ table” off to the side while the rest of us sit at the adult table with him. Let us be a community that does not just care for the children by providing them a place off to the side of the “big church,” but considers them as full participants of our church body.
I’ll admit that serving with children at church is not glamorous, but as someone who has been involved in Children’s Ministry as either an attender or server her whole life, I will tell you it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you could ever have. You will get a real-life example of childlike faith and what Jesus means when he tells us the first shall be last and the last shall be first. “Jesus welcomed children when others wanted to push them away (Mark 10:13-16). He said the measure of our love for him would be measured by our love for children (Mark 9:36-37). He took the children in his arms as if to say, ‘Honor these little ones, and you honor me. Send them away because they are weak, socially insignificant, and bothersome, and you’ve demonstrated that you don’t understand the values of the kingdom’” (Kevin DeYoung). God has given us the great privilege of entrusting us with the care of these people in our church community. Come and join us in being a part of building up the next generation of the church to love, serve and follow Jesus.