Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abducting Jesus (7) - "Kingdom Kids"

Perhaps nowhere is the evidence of Jesus missing more clear than in our treatment of children in the Church. I know that is a pretty dramatic statement, but allow me a few posts to explain myself. And no, I'm not talking about abusing children or anything sinister like that! What I claim here is that, yet again, our actions may betray our words. We sometimes talk a big game about what we have faith in Jesus to do with young people, but we sure don't act like we mean it a lot of times. 

Many of our structures and programs are designed, frankly, to "get children out of the way" so adults can really "concentrate on the word." (I am aware that we justify this with all kinds of good reasons.  My background, training, and degrees are in education and child/adolescent development and youth ministry. Trust me, I know why we say we do what we do! And to be fair, many of us really believe it is best to separate children and teenagers from adults for developmental or cultural reasons.)
In theory, we tell children they can do all things in Christ. In practice, however, we relegate them to a children's class or youth group or some other "appendage" of the real body. We treat them as disciples in waiting.

So, to kick off this little segment of this series of blog posts, let me quote an earlier one I wrote many months ago:

One of my convictions is to see a vibrant faith passed on to the next generation. The foundational belief within this conviction is that children should be an active part of expressing ekklesia. In other words, children are not only the church of today; they not only belong to the church as members of the body, but children are also ministers in a very real way. They are an important realization of our "called out" identity as the ekklesia of God.

We are not only the family of God for the benefit of children, but also because of the children. We are something less without them. We become something different, something not quite of holy design. My contention is that we need to take the Bible more seriously. We quote lots of Bible verses about children as though they are cute and sweet, but I'm starting to think we dismiss much of the penetrating spiritual truth behind them.

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