“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13, 17)
Jesus did more than tolerate the children. Scripture says that He blessed them. He literally took them up in His arms and prayed over them. No doubt He hugged many of them and perhaps even teased a few. Jesus was not performing a duty. He was enjoying a delight. Perhaps He even thought, “Oh, if only I could spend the rest of My time with you!”
Down through the years I have had a lot of interaction with a number of churches. Some have been strong, thriving, and growing ministries. Others were dying. More than once I heard a church complain about a lack of youth. “We just don’t have any young people here”, many of them say. Why is that? Why do some churches have almost no children, while others are bursting at the seam? I believe that much of it lies in the difference between ‘tolerating’ children and ‘ministering’ to them.
I once heard a youth pastor ask the following question during a sermon – “Are you willing to wash the feet of these teenagers?” At first, that question shocked me. “Adults don’t wash the feet of youth”, I thought. “If anything, it should be the other way around.” But later, after I had time to meditate upon it, I realized that it was one of the most profound things I had ever had anyone ask me. You see, he was passionate about reaching and discipling teenagers and he knew that in order for that to happen, many in that church had to be willing to humble themselves and genuinely care.
Too many churches want teens and children, but they want them on their terms. They want the teens and children to be there and to be just like them. “Dress the way we dress. Wear your hair the way we wear our hair. Sing the songs we like to sing. We want you to come, but we want you to fit it into our agenda.”The problem with that is this – many teens and even young adults will go elsewhere. They won’t argue or fight about it. They’ll just leave. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen! But I’ve also seen what can happen when adults are willing to let go of some their long-held traditions. Twin Oaks is a great example of this and my hat is off to you! Perhaps the one thing that has amazed me the most about this church is that adults are willing to sing praise choruses and teens are willing to sing hymns. There was a time when I didn’t believe that was possible. But it is, and therefore I say thank you to both the young and the old here at Twin Oaks.
I don’t know this, but I wonder if Jesus didn’t hug some of these children very tightly. Perhaps He did so in order to drink in some of their innocence and to pour into them some of His passion. It will be interesting to find out someday how God used many of these same children in the building of His kingdom.
God bless you my brethren. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)