Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children in the life of the Church

"Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:13-14 ESV)

The other day, Kevin DeYoung had a post with a couple helpful suggestions on how to have a prayer service at your church. Of all the wise advice included, I was especially pleased to read what he had to say in regards to the inclusion of children:
Keep the kids. I know that keeping kids in the church service, let alone a prayer service, can be challenging. We do have a nursery for infants and toddlers on Sunday night. But one of the best things about our prayer service is that many children are present. They sit in the small group circles (when we break up into groups) and often contribute with the adults. I can’t tell you how pleased I am when one of my kids prays in our circle. I’m just as pleased that they are seeing prayer modeled by believers from outside their family and from every age group. They get to hear confessions, praises, and supplications just like everyone else. We are teaching our children to pray by having a prayer service. We are also demonstrating that prayer really matters.
Far too often we fail to include children in our church activity, either because we (like the disciples in Matthew 19) find them to be an unnecessary distraction, or perhaps because we feel they're not mature enough to understand what's going on anyway. Before we fall prey to this prevalent though faulty way of thinking, let us consider the words of R.C. Sproul Jr.:
"There is every reason to believe that little children do not have the capacity to believe the gospel. They lack that which is necessary. The good news, however, is that no person has the capacity to believe the gospel. Not one of us can believe on our own, not because we aren't smart enough, but because we aren't good enough. What stops the little children from believing is not an underdeveloped brain, but a wicked heart. But God is stronger than both underdeveloped brains and wicked hearts."
 For a couple other posts in this vein, click here and here.

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