Hi! I’m Winnie. If you don’t know me, I’ve been a G360 trainee primarily focusing on Kids work over the last two years, and I thought it would be timely to write some of my reflections as we try to start a new series of short contributions that we hope will be helpful to everyone at church as we think about faithfully discipling kids together.
Ask any Christian parent what their desire for their children are, and the most common response would be that they want their kids to follow Jesus. There are many things we think we can control in life, but our kids coming to faith in Jesus is not something that we can force or condition. Salvation is a gift that is received by faith in Jesus alone. In that regard, we all have the same needs of redemption and restoration that can only be found in Jesus. And fortunately for all of us, it is a sovereign work of God alone (Eph 2:8-9) as the gospel is being proclaimed. But here’s the thing: it could happen for kids from a very young age! We all need to trust that God loves our kids way more than we do. God being in control is infinitely better than us being in control.
Even as we trust that God is sovereign in election and salvation, we know he uses means. And in this regard, he tells all of us how we can be useful in galvanising our efforts as a church family to love our kids together. Here are three big ways we can be thinking about kids at The Crossing.
- We warmly welcome kids. In Mark 10:14, Jesus says “Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Jesus welcomed children – he didn’t just tolerate them, he also didn’t think of them as peripheral to church life, and he held up a child’s response to the gospel in faith as a model kingdom response. Church is better with children – together, we learn what it means to be growing in maturity in the body, we learn how to mutually serve one another humbly as brothers and sisters in Christ, we embrace seeing the world with wonder and from a different perspective (try going down to their eye-level to experience their world), and we grow in declaring simple truths together (all together now… from Japan to Milan…. Jesus is the King!) Our kids feel they belong in the family, they feel useful as their little fingers put away pencils and service sheets, and they go round giving everyone sticky cuddles to remind us of how we have all been welcomed into God’s kingdom- like little children who have nothing to offer yet receive grace freely flowing. Let’s warmly love them not as visitors or outsiders but as our family; not as a church of tomorrow, but as the church of today.
- We intentionally disciple kids. Deut 6:4-9 shows us the intentionality and pervasiveness of intentional discipleship. It’s moment by moment, 24/7. When you sit and when you walk, when you lie down and when you wake up. And while that’s primarily the responsibility of parents, families exist within the larger church community where we are all called to be a disciple of Christ and disciple others. So as older brothers and sisters, whether as a youth, as a Planet Faith leader, as a CG member with kids in your CG, or as a senior, we can all be part of this together. Let’s aim for transformation, not information. Try talking to them about how you feel about Jesus so it becomes normal for everyone at church to expect gospel-centred conversations in their lives. Share something you’re struggling with in an age-appropriate way. Ask them for prayer. Answer their questions by sitting beside them and opening their bibles with them. Challenge them to live for Jesus where they are. Age-appropriate expressions of faith means that we are not looking for one conversion moment with our kids- we are expectantly praying for a life of responding in faith and repentance to Jesus.
- We persistently pray for kids. When we remember that it is a sovereign work of God alone that redeems and restores, we get on our knees and pray- we pray that in His mercy, he will call our children to respond in faith and repentance as they choose to follow Jesus for all of life, that they will choose Jesus because he is better than the world, and that they will cling on to Jesus when they encounter rocky times, knowing that He is always faithful. And we don’t stop praying, because that’s the best thing we can be doing for our kids.
So, let’s be clear, we don’t assume deterministic salvation- one writer says ‘we have no right to assume that there won’t be wandering…” Equally true though is that we also have no right to assume there will be. So let’s just not assume anything. Instead, let’s be obedient to what God has called us to be: lovingly welcoming, intentionally discipling and persistently praying for the kids that God has graciously placed in our Crossing family.