One of the favorite texts for a Children's Day message or youth related devotional is Matthew 9:13-15.
"Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there."
What was Jesus trying to teach these professional disciples about ministry -- specifically youth ministry?
1. Physical touch is important to their learning.
Now before you go and report me to the abuse hotline, let me clarify what I am talking about. Kids need to be hugged and wrestled with. It's part of what makes them kids. There is nothing inappropriate about showing kids that we care about them. Our culture has gone crazy on one hand to protect against sexual abuse but has not gone crazy on the elimination of pornography or its dispersement over the i'net.
This week in Jr. Church, I was teaching about the Upper Room and the washing of the disciples' feet. I wanted to demonstrate what that may have been like for the kids so I brought in a basin and a pitcher of water. As I washed each child's hands (not feet), I told them "I care about you", "You are important", "You have value", "I appreciate ________ about you." What an impact! Those rowdy little children were quiet and attentive!
2. Children are a viable congregation for any minister.
Lots of times I get asked, "Do you hope to get a church of your own someday"? I am never quite sure what people mean when they ask! Sometimes I think that mean, "Teens aren't important enough a flock to care for" or "you are still in the minor leagues". Jeus' disciples tried this speech on Jesus, and he said "NO! Let them come!"
Again, in Jr. Church I have discovered again the joy of teaching God's truth to young people. This is not a chore -- it is a privilege. I only hope that no one tries to force me to stop playing with the kids and get a real job! I love seeing their minds wrap around a simple concept and work it out in their own miniature, yet real, worlds.
3. Children have something to offer to adults.
Jesus used the children as examples and teachable moments for the disciples. Without those children, Jesus couldn't have spoken these now-famous words. I wonder how the disciples responded? Did they see this as a great chance to grasp the beauty and simplicity of ministry? Or did they get frustrated because they thought they were doing the right thing before? Now they had been publicly rebuked and refused. And so Youth Ministry was born. Do I take enough time to weigh the value that the teens and younger people that I minister to have for me? Who is being ministered to more?
Thanks for thinking about these things with me this morning. May God bless your ministry to young people, and may God bless you through them.
For Christ, to youth,