We’re All in Children’s Ministry
II Chronicles 34:1-9 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord…. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images… And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
Never underestimate what God is doing in a young person, or even in a child. King Josiah was only eight years old when he ascended to the throne, and at 16, he began one of the greatest reform movements Israel had ever seen. His actions were as brave as anything done by David in battle; tearing down idolatrous altars and wooden images was simply asking for trouble. But Josiah knew what the Lord wanted, and he proceeded boldly. By the time he was 26, the land and the Temple had been “purged” enough that the Lord brought forth a new revival. That kind of courage and focus doesn’t come at once, but is the product of years of walking with the Lord.
There may be a “Junior Church” in your life or in your church, but there is no “Junior Holy Spirit.” God can do deep works in a young heart, and can give great revelation to children. There are young men and women (some would call them children, and they would be accurate) in the author’s church that he considers real brothers and sisters in the faith. What God is doing in their hearts must be respected and encouraged.
If you are a Christian, you are already and always in children’s ministry. What that means is that we all have the call to build up the next generation, and that involves connecting with children—and not just your own. We are all examples to the young, and they are watching, learning, and absorbing.
One way to encourage the young is not to water down the Gospel or any of God’s principles. Take a look at the speech patterns of those children that heard nothing but baby talk when they were younger compared with those whose parents and sitters spoke with them in normal English. Perhaps younger children don’t have our vocabulary, and of course they don’t have the life experience to contextualize all they hear and learn. But they are capable of understanding deeper things of the Spirit than we tend to give them credit for. The burden is often not on them to try to understand as it is on us to hear from the Lord how to relate and impart.
The scriptures say that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” (Proverbs 22:15), and we can all attest to that. But the next time you find yourself with a young person with an open heart and a desire to learn, it may not be their lack of faith that prevents them from understanding spiritual truths. It might be ours!
Prayer: Father, help me to “suffer the little children to come to” us, as they did to You. Help me to see them with Your eyes, and to be used by You to model Christ and speak His word. Thank You that there is only one Holy Spirit, and He can work in anyone’s heart.