For many kids, this was the first week back to school after the carefree, sunny days of summer. Children in elementary school, middle school, and high school put on their new school clothes, carry their backpacks with their colorful notebooks and sharpened pencils and head off to school. Moms and Dads have loaded up college students and their belongings and dropped them off at their college dorm, perhaps with a few tears. And a new chapter has begun for each one of these ‘children’ both young and old.
And yes, even seminary students and their professors (i.e. me!), have headed back to school. I love the beginning of a new school year. It is SO filled with possibilities. We have plans (i.e. a syllabus) for our courses. We have so much to learn from books, classes, assignments and especially from each other.
I’m truly excited about one of the courses I’m teaching this semester called “Early Faith Foundations.” We are studying how children grow and develop in their faith from birth through age twelve. Particularly, we will explore how churches can partner with and equip parents to fulfill their God-given role of spiritually training their children, as outlined in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Over the past five or more years, I have seen the focus of children’s ministry changing to this type of family-centered approach. So, my desire for my students is that they learn how to support, train and equip parents to be intentional about passing on their faith to their children.
In preparation for our first class of the semester, I was reading a book by Andrew Murray, beloved Scottish pastor of the 1800’s, called “Raising Your Children for Christ.” On the 51st day, Murray talks about “Believing Children” and says:
“God expects our children to grow up believers. We ought to expect it too. It is of the very nature of faith in God that it ever seeks to think as He thinks, to count upon Him for what with man and nature is impossible, to make His promise and His power the measure of its hope. Let us take time to realize that God’s wonderful promise to our children is meant so to take possession of us that it shall fill us with the sense of His holy power waiting to fulfill it, and draw us to live in His presence and in presence of our children as the channels of that power and that blessing. The confidence that our children will grow up true believers – something much higher than the confidence that they will eventually be saved – will exercise its influence on us and on them. On us as a daily call to a life of pure holiness and consecration; on our children in the creation of an atmosphere of faith around them in which they breathe and live. In our homes God expects that there shall be children that believe.”
I love that! The thought that God expects us to have homes filled with faith AND filled with children that believe in Him. What an awesome privilege we have to introduce our children to the living God, their loving Heavenly Father. As we daily live out our relationship to God in front of our children, they can see what our faith means to us. And, prayerfully, they will trust in Christ as their Savior at an early age and be added to our family of faith! Talk about making the angels sing!!
So, what about you, children’s worker? Are you growing in your faith and reflecting Christ to the children God places in your path? As this new school year begins and our children move up into new classes, we have the most awesome privilege to walk beside them in this journey of faith. May we all be faith-full to our calling and intentional about passing our faith on to these dear children!
NOTE: If you’re interested in refocusing your Children’s Ministry to also equip and train parents to lead their children spiritually, I would highly recommend the D6 Conference being held in Frisco, TX from September 15-17, 2010 (see www.d6conference.com).