“We have to move from thinking missions is an event to teaching our children that missions is a natural byproduct of our relationship with Christ.” Taylor Johnson
Encouraging children to participate in God’s mission is one of the key factors involved in creating a nurturing environment of growing spirituality for children. In the fast paced, time pressured, post-modern age in which we live, the need to see young followers of Jesus developing and outworking a faith that has lasting presence for the themselves and the future. Being intentional and warm, can help children discover the love of God that is not only in their families and homes but also in the community around them.
Some may think children are too young to participate in missions. But if a child is a Christian he, she, too, can be involved in the Great Commission, starting with the partnership between the church and the home. Parents are their kids are primary disciples, but the church and home can work together to raise a generation of children with a biblical worldview focused on the mission of Jesus.
This is a church and home initiative. The church can help equip parents and partner with them in this endeavor of mission in a Child’s life. Its makes them apart of the whole church picture but also creates an environment fun and exciting. As we read in according to Ephesians 4:16, the well-being of our faith community is based on what every joint of the body supplies.
In the body of Christ, children have a significant role in contributing towards the growth of the body. On the other hand, when we fail to fully recognise the Body of Christ, we are missing out on all that God intends for the church. When children are able to see themselves being treated as complete human beings made in the image of God, they feel empowered to serve the community to which they belong. Involving children in missions is not only a way to affirm their worth in Christ, but it also contributes towards helping them become all that their Creator intends them to be.
Like Samuel in the Bible, who was given the space to communicate what he heard from God, today’s believing children need to be given the opportunities to bring to the table what they are learning in their personal walk with God. When children are respected enough to be listened to, they will become good listeners to the stories of others, and engage them in genuine kingdom dialogues.
In some ways, children staying in the church is closely connected to their serving in the church. Getting them involved in serving and leading opportunities is one of the ways to help them experience uninterrupted spiritual growth. Of course, the way we draw from them need not be always in the form of putting them on a pedestal and enjoying their “cute preaching” or “cute singing.”
When the concept of children in mission is viewed only in terms of enjoying their “performance on stage,” there is a danger of causing them to see themselves as merely attached to the programs of the church, and not as the participants in the very life of the church. As one that has been brought up with the continuous ‘dancing or putting on a show’ I know and understand the true way of being able to sit not only in conversations but feel heard, when given the opportunity to be involved.
Let’s make missions a priority in our children’s ministries. Help the children in your church learn that they are part of the church and can participate in its mission. Teach them that missions is part of their identity as a follower of Christ.
Joyce Tangi is the Field Officer (South), and Children’s/Family ministry leader as a part of the PULSE team.