Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Let the Little Children Come to Jesus!

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

IMG_0301In a church I once served – dismissing the children for children’s church meant a large number of those in worship got up and left – a number that included the many children and the numerous volunteers and staff that went with them.  In a day when many churches are filled with gray hairs and few if any children – God is calling us to wake-up and look for ways to reach out to younger families and their children/youth.  In reading the Bible – this passage came to mind – and I wondered if there are actually churches today that would turn families and children away as the disciples tried to do in Jesus day.

I would hope that no church would actually turn families and children away – but let’s look at this for a moment from the other side of the coin so to speak. How do churches attract or draw families with young children? I had conversations with three young couples that were attending that former church I mentioned earlier.  I asked them why they chose to come to that church and continued to attend. These are some of the reasons they gave me. First off – all three said they found us on our website. They were looking for a church home and two said they were looking for a church home with young people and a ministry to young people. They liked seeing pictures of our children and youth ministries on the website.  They appreciated that we were staffed for children and youth – with a full-time children’s director and a full-time youth director – and that we had many activities for their children and youth.  In other words – we were reaching out to them before they ever started to attend.

HappyFamilyOnce they arrived they all felt welcomed – even appreciated.  The congregation didn’t make them feel out of place from the first time they entered the doors (hospitality).  One couple said they planned to visit other churches – but after attending that church – they decided they had found their church home.  In other words – the website was great – and got some folks through the doors – but the people themselves sealed the deal!

If a church has nothing for young children or youth and does very little to attract young families – how can they expect to draw young couples and families?  Simply saying we’d like young families to attend our church won’t cut it dear readers.  If the church is doing little to reach out – is this not the same as turning young families away?  I’m just asking.  Are we striving to reach the WHOLE family for Jesus?

Mainline churches – even churches with a lot of gray hairs – can reach out to young adults – young couples – young families – if their heart is in it.  A number of churches are dying because they are not willing to do anything different than was done before.  Some churches have traditional Sunday School – and a Sunday night program for the youth – and for some that works.  Question – if we do the same thing over and over and expect a different result – isn’t that a definition of insanity?  Are our traditions so deeply entrenched that we would be unwilling to try something different in order to take the chance to reach more children and youth and thus their families for Christ?  Isn’t reaching folks for Jesus more important than the way we go about it?

Some experts suggest that church leadership and staff should constantly try to find ways to reach out to children and youth – not to simply add butts in the seats – but because most experts say the best age to reach someone for Christ is before a person turns 18. If we’re serious about reaching everyone for Christ – a church should go all out to reach children and youth it would seem.  Dear readers – how’s your church doing?

Our prayer is that we will reach everyone for Christ as we bring them into environments where they can encounter Christ – build them up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ – and send them out to serve Christ.  Dear readers – how can the church you are attending make changes that will draw children and youth – and their families – to Jesus through your church’s ministry?  I would love to hear things your church is doing or ideas you think they ought to do.  I’m sure others would love to read your ideas too!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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June 19, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Apart from specifics on children, our website IS an invaluable tool for people choosing to visit us on a one time basis or as a new home church. I was recently out of town and looking for a church and all I had to go on was the information online and nearly all of that were the area churches own websites. I needed to know location and worship times, but also wanted to get a feel for what the church was like. I wasn’t over concerned with finding a UMC church as just one that that the time I was looking for (Sunday evening) and seemed like they’d be welcoming. More on the kids in a bit.

    Like

    Comment by Dave Self | June 19, 2015 | Reply


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