Posted: 5/21/19 at 10:40am. Post by Tony Brooks.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)
Our culture is rapidly changing. We all know the statistics that the younger the generation, the less they attend church. What are some of the major needs as we try to reach children? Here are some thoughts:
Work with the parents of children as their spiritual guides. On average (even among the active members) children will attend Sunday School twice a month. That means teachers will have 24 hours in an entire year to help build a spiritual foundation for these children to be followers of Christ. Parents have more quality hours in a week than you will have in a year. How are you partnering with parents? They are their children’s main spiritual guides. Have you visited with every parent and reiterated that you are simply here to help them as they guide their children? Are you giving them the curriculum to use? Do you have a devotional book or devotional app that you could recommend to them? Find ways to empower/encourage parents.
Work with grandparents of children as their spiritual guides. Many grandparents are now helping raise their grandchildren. Are you preparing some spiritual helps as they guide them? Spend time with the grandparents and discover ways to help them.
Find ways to meet with parental figures and celebrate milestones for their children. Many churches will provide a Bible for children moving into first grade. Work with parental figures to claim a Bible verse for their child. Laminate the verse as a bookmark to go with their Bible. Write the verses down and give them to the church office. Use the Bible verse during other milestones as well! (I also suggest that parents claim a Bible verse for themselves and let their children know about them.)
How else can you help celebrate milestones?
Have a one-hour class for parents/grandparents before child dedications. Stress the role of the church and their role in raising up their children.
Have a special gathering around graduations from preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school. What guidance do they need as their children transition to what is next?
Help parents/grandparents who have special needs children or children with mental health issues. I know of very few Baptist churches in my region that offer special needs ministry in Sunday School. I know of parents who choose each Sunday which one goes to church, and which one stays home with their special needs child. What does this imply about our churches? We are not prepared, or we don’t care enough. We have special needs consultants to help train people if you are interested in pursuing this.
Mental health is another concern. I recommend researching mental health issues for children and youth. I suggest enlisting mental health professionals to train your teachers in how to assist parents/grandparents in mental health awareness. We have an obligation to take away hindrances, so children (and their parents/grandparents) can discover the abundant life Christ wants to offer.