Wendy Nowak | Director, Chapel Kids
All through Scripture, God shows us how He deeply loves and values children. Kids matter greatly to God as His personal, image-bearing masterpieces designed to do good God-work in the world. When Jesus walked this earth, He was adamant with His people that children should not be turned away from Him, but they should be brought to Him for blessing.
In the Bible, God repeatedly charges each generation to teach His commands to the next generations, and to intentionally remember His works. The reality of the 4/14 window tells us that nearly 85% of believers come to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. This should awaken an urgency to plant and water seeds of truth, tilling the soil of young hearts, developing growing faith as a top priority. This is discipleship of the child saints and saints-to-be. This is reaching the lost and maturing them in faith.
I love how God uses stories to show how He values children and works through them. We see Samuel hear from God and give a message to an adult spiritual leader; we see eight-year-old Josiah, who “did what was right in the eyes of Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2); we see Naaman’s servant girl who was enslaved and trafficked, yet had wisdom and confidence to advise that Naaman see the prophet Elijah for healing; we see the boy with the loaves and fishes who did not hide or consume the food his mama packed him to eat; we see David as a brave shepherd, faithful in the daily serving, looked down upon by brothers, but God’s plan for him was exceedingly, abundantly above what he could ask or imagine.
The church’s role in discipling these precious, loved-by-God kids is to come alongside families to nurture the next generation in faith in Jesus Christ. While our church volunteers work wholeheartedly to help kids know God through Jesus, by processing truth from His word and by lovingly nurturing kids, we must connect these efforts to the home and family as much as is possible. Scripture shows that God designed our faith-life to grow and develop primarily in the context of family life and in the communities of families who follow God (the church).
We believe families have the greatest influence over the course of time, and also have the greatest quantity of time with their children. It is the role of the church body and the family to teach, magnify, and celebrate God’s word and pass down truth to the next generations. This is the Holy Spirit’s work (thankfully!), but we can create spaces, places and groups at church and at home that will help kids hear and respond to God.
In scripture, we see that the heads of families held great responsibility. It is possible to lead our families well as the Holy Spirit enables and fills each broken believer who loves God and trusts Jesus. When a family leader seeks God and has the help of God’s people, there is renewed hope and power in God’s ability to change the trajectory of lives, breaking chains and generational patterns, bringing restoration and newness. (Hebrews 11:6-8, Acts 2:38-40, Acts 10, Joshua 6:23)
In the church setting, our older parents and families need to teach the younger families about home life. (Titus 2:3-5). In the home and community, parents are to teach God’s word to their children as they go about their daily life, in their homes and travels, in their waking up and lying down (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Isaiah 38:19)
It doesn’t take long for a generation to lose the firm foundation of truth because disciple-making was forgotten or ignored. We see that in our communities and other nations. May it not happen on our watch, Lord. Preserve Your Word through us.The greatest impact we can make on the world is to raise up disciples who experience and understand God’s truth – the truth – in Jesus — which transforms hearts and rescues sinners for eternity. It is a primary priority of God’s people to teach the next generation about Him, loving God first, loving others. The highest way to love them is to share the truth of salvation in Jesus. (Acts 2:38-40, Matthew 28:18-20)