The Biblical Role of Covenant and Church: God Always Means For Children To Grow Up in Church
God, You & Our Kids | 1 Thess. 2:7-12 | Pastor Duane Smets
This a topical and exegetical sermon on Biblical parenting and how the Church is designed for children of all ages, and on the role that church is supposed to play in the lives of children and parents. This sermon was originally preached on May 19th, 2013 at The Resolved Church in San Diego,CA.
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The Resolved Church
Pastor Duane Smets
May 19th, 2013
The Biblical Role of Covenant and Church: God Always Means For Kids To Grow Up In Church
God You & Our Kids | 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
I. No Adults Allowed: Church Is For Children Only (1 Thess 2:7-12)
A. Mothers: Gentle Care
B. Fathers: Authoritative Instruction
C. Brothers & Sisters: Working Together
II. Kids and The Kingdom: Resolved Church Family Ministry (Mk 10:14)
A. Teaching The Gospel In God’s Word
B. Training Parents and Parents To Be
C. Time For Moms and Dads To Receive
Good morning Resolved Church. It’s super good to see all of you today, especially if you are checking out our church for the first time. We hope you like it. We hope you like us and will want to come back and join in on the party. We’re sort of a rag tag group of people whose lives have gone every which way, lost and Jesus has entered in and has begun to radically change us as we’ve found peace and hope in Him.
My name is Duane, I’m one of the pastors here who serves under our head pastor Jesus. My main job is preaching though I often get mixed up in all kinds of other stuff which I’m trying to learn how to not get mixed up in. I’m especially glad to be here this morning because I spent most of the week in Reno, Nevada.
Giving has been down and our church needs some money so I went to try and get some by putting a bunch down on black. It didn’t work.
Just kidding. I think that’s one of the things that gets me fired. Actually I was going to put a quarter in one of the slot machines in the airport when we were leaving but apparently non of those things accept change anymore, so I didn’t even get to do that.
I was at Reno for a conference where I was teaching a session for at our sister Acts 29 church there Living Stones…but the whole conference was such a blessing to me personally. Usually I’m up here preaching so I don’t get to sit where you are listening and I’ll tell you what…I think I like sitting and hearing a guy yell at me and tell me how good Jesus is just almost as I love standing up here and yelling at you to tell you how good Jesus is.
This is what every sermon I give is all about, Jesus. If things are not good for you right now in your life, what you need is Jesus. It’s Jesus. And it’s my goal to convince you every time to believe that. For some of you that’s because you’re not Christians yet and you need to become one and for some of you that’s because you are a Christian but you’ve got your eyes off Jesus. Jesus is the savior and it’s my prayer that He would save today!
Alright, so the title of my sermon today is, “The Biblical Role of Covenant and Church: God Always Means For Kids To Grow Up In Church.” We’re coming down toward the end of our “God, You and Our Kids” sermon series. Last week was on how God means parents to give their kids God in their home and all the time. This week is on how church is specifically designed by God for kids.
The main text we’re going to be working from is 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, so why don’t you open your Bibles there, I’ll read it, we’ll declare it as the Word of God, thank Him for it and pray over our time in it together.
• Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
So, we’re just going to have two main points for today, though each will have a couple sub points. One point will mainly deal with the text, this passage in Thessalonians and the other will deal with how we do children’s ministry at our church. The big idea for us today is that Church is For Kids. Our first point is, “No Adults Allowed: Church Is For Children Only.”
I. No Adults Allowed: Church Is For Children Only (1 Thess 2:7-12)
Hopefully most of you either have Sea World passes or have at least been to Sea World within the last couple years since it’s right here in our backyard. If you haven’t those who don’t live in San Diego are very upset with you. Sea World is fun, lot’s good shows, water type animals etc.
If you you’ve got kids, it’s especially fun because they have this whole part of the park dedicated to kids called “The Bay of Play.” My kids love to go there. They’ve got some rides which parents can take their kids on like Disneyland tea cups, I think theirs is the Abby Cups and another wanna be Disneyland ride like Dumbo only theirs is Elmo.
They’ve also got a few other things there which are super cool. They’ve got this whole area which is basically a bunch of hanging boxing bags where kids can go in and run all around crazy bumping into them. Then the’ve also got this other whole big area which is basically one giant balloon type thing, probably about half the size of this room or so, and you go in there and you just jump around on it. They’ve also got this super long twisty slide which drops down for like three stories. Super cool.
But here’s the problem. They won’t let me go into either of those areas! Neither the swinging boxing bags, not the giant balloon jumpy thing and they won’t let me go down the slide! So I just have to stand outside watching my kids have all the fun and it is so frustrating. I don’t get it. But they have this rule: No Adults Allowed.
Now, when it comes to church…we have learned in past weeks that it is inextricably tied to family. Our God is a family God. In sin we reject God as our Father. But He is good and comes after us and adopts us back into the family through His Son Jesus. The Gospel itself, the good news about Jesus is a family Gospel. And Paul, the human author of the book of 1 Thessalonians, which we are reading today…looks at being and doing church through that lens, through the family Gospel lens.
And the way he pictures the church here really is as a group of a bunch of children. No adults allowed. So let’s walk through some of the key things he says on this and how we are to see ourselves and operate with one another.
First, as under a mother, “Mothers: Gentle Care.”
A. Mothers: Gentle Care
Look at verse 7 and 8 with me. “We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
Many who have studied the book of 1 Thessalonians have said it is perhaps Paul’s most intimate and personal letter he wrote. I mean look at the words he uses to describe his love for the church. It was a gentle care, affectionate, sharing of their own selves, and the church was dear to him.
What he’s doing here is sharing the heart behind his ministry. Which was important. If you look a few verses earlier, up at verse 2…when he was there it really wasn’t all that smooth all the time. Verse 2 says when he was there he declared the gospel “in the midst of much conflict.”
Sometimes when there is conflict in a church it can become easy to throw rocks at the church leadership. And Paul backs up and says wait, no, we love you and loved you deeply when we were with you.
Affectionately here, means feeling. They felt much for them. Desirous, they desired them, wanted them. They didn’t look at the people of the church as a nuisance.
How about this next line, “share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves.” You see it’s one thing to get up here and to publicly preach and to share the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done for sinners. It’s a whole other to open up your heart and your life and to share about your own sin and how your turning to Jesus the savior as the answer. That’s sharing your own self, your own life.
It’s one of the reasons I just haven’t quite been able to let go of leading a community group in my own home, even though I probably shouldn’t any more due to the needs of our church and it’s size. But I love having people into our house and opening up my heart and life and our home for others to see hear and experience. I want people to know that I’m not just saying this stuff up front here but I’m earnestly trying to live it out.
Look at the analogy Paul uses to describe his loving care, “like a nursing mother.” Okay. That’s a little weird. Almost every week in our house they’ll be things I run by Amy before I preach them…just to check in with her and make sure I don’t say something stupid in my sermon.
I’m not sure what her response would have been if one Sunday I was like, “Hey babe, I’ve been how you nurse our daughter a bunch lately and I’ve just been thinking about it and that’s how I feel about the church. Tomorrow when I preach I just want to breastfeed everyone.”
Probably should’ve checked with her to see if I could say that. I might be in trouble later.
But this analogy is actually a beautiful one. I’ve talked with my wife about this. There is something so intimate about nursing. Moms talk about a special bond that happens with their child through it. And it’s an extremely vulnerable thing. If they’re out in public they have to try and cover up with a blanket and it’s just kind of weird and awkward. But they do it because they love their baby…that and it’s usually less embarrassing than a screaming baby.
Get the point here though. I’ve mainly been looking at this from the mother’s perspective. But where does the text place us? Who are we, as people of the church in the story? We’re the baby. We’re the ones nursing.
What are we supposed to get and learn here? We’re supposed to see ourselves as children who realize that we are loved affectionately by God and His leaders. We’re supposed to hear the Gospel and see it at work. We’re supposed to feel a part of things…where people of the church are dear to us.
Do you know you are loved? Are you seeing that the Gospel actually does change lives? Are you hearing and seeing repentance and transformation taking place? Have people become dear to you?
If the answer is no to any of those questions then my plea is to dig in deeper. Get messy with people. Make some friendships. It’s risky. You’ll probably get hurt and then you’ll see and experience the power of the Gospel at work. Get messy by getting vulnerable and opening up your heart and your life. Be honest about your sin and your struggles. Tell people you love them. Go out of your way to care for them.
Church is for kids. The Gospel is not for clean people. It’s for messy people. Church is changing diapers. We’re not a church interested in just polishing up something that already clean. We’re a church for the broken, the hurt, the lost, the angry, the proud…and what we need is the love of God which is like the love a mother toward her children.
Well, let’s move on and talk about Fathers. Brothers and sisters are next in the order of the text but it seems fitting to go to fathers next, so “Fathers: Authoritative Instruction.”
B. Fathers: Authoritative Instruction
Verses 11-12. Let me re-read ‘em to get them fresh in our heads. “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
So mothers are the soft side. Fathers are the strong side. Look at the things the father does here. He exhorts, he encourages, he charges and he calls.
To exhort means to instruct and to teach. It’s a push one in a certain direction and saying, “go here.”
To encourage means to pour courage in. It’s saying you can do it. Keep going. Don’t give up. You’re doing a great job.
To charge is to a serious thing. The way it’s used here is actually as a courtroom room, where a witness is called to the stand and charges are made. The charge here is to “walk in a manner worthy of God.” It’s where I get real loud and boisterous and I tell you that you need to follow Jesus. In the journey of your life, walk with Him. I charge you…do no else for all other roads lead to hell!
And then the fourth thing here, the call. There’s a call into Jesus’ kingdom and glory. What this is really doing is giving you a vision for you life. Looking to God’s kingdom and glory is a look ahead. It’s a call to imagine what your life could be if you were serving Jesus.
There are some of you right now here in this room who are on one track for your life thinking you are going to do this and that and become this and that is not what God wants for you. He wants you to be serving Him and if you are then you’ll be doing something totally different. There’s some of you right now who may be working a certain job or career and that’s not what He means for you.
My personal plan was to become a pro snowboarder and then after that (since I sucked) to have my own clothing company. It wasn’t until I understood that God had a call upon my life to serve Him that all my plans and dreams changed.
There are some of you now who God means for you to become deacons in His church. Some of you who God means for you to become pastors. Some of you who feel like the biggest screw ups and God means for you to become one of the mature ones in the faith who can teach and disciple others in what it looks like to follow Jesus.
I love John Bale’s story. One of our deacons here. John originally thought he was going to be an astro physicist. Then he thought he’d write books and did a degree in literature at Berkley. After graduating he put all of that on hold because God put it in his heart to move down to San Diego to share and show the love of Christ to his sister.
Then, God brought him to our church and after a few years John realized God’s heart and gifting in him and he became a deacon in the church who now runs our homeless ministry, is working on getting a tutoring center started up and manages all the blog writing that goes out through the church. It’s just amazing. Just think what God could do with you and how He’s made you.
Well, like when we we’re talking about mothers where does the text place us when it talks about fathers? Who are we, as people of the church in the story? We’re the children who are to receive exhortation, encouragement, charges and calling from those who play father roles in the church. Church is for kids.
So how are you at being exhorted? Are you able to receive instruction? Are you teachable? Or do you think you know everything already?
How are you at being encouraged? Are you discouraged? Frustrated? Down? Do you allow others to encourage you? Or do you push that away because you want to wallow in your sucky view of yourself?
What about receive charges? When someone gets in your face and tells you what to do how do you respond? Does it make you want to rebel and just say no, and go do your own thing? Or are you able to say, “you’re right” and you listen?
Then what about calling? Can you honestly say of your life right now that you are doing what you are doing because you have a sense that it is what God has called you to? If not, maybe you’re on the wrong track. I’m telling you, you will be so much happier in life when you are able to see yourself serving God with the gifts God has given you on the pathway to His kingdom and glory.
Well, let’s look at the third one here, “Brothers & Sisters: Working Together.”
C. Brothers & Sisters: Working Together
First, I’m getting “Brothers & Sisters” from verse 9 where it says, “Remember brothers our labor and toil: we worked night and day.” A quick technical side note. “Brothers” here is in the plural and when in the plural often includes sisters…like in Luke 21:16 and several other passages. Greek, which the New Testament of the Bible was written in, simply doesn’t ever say “brothers and sisters” because when used in the plural in a family context setting it was understood that you meant both brothers and sisters…almost like saying “siblings.” And obviously here in 1 Thessalonians we’ve got a family context thing going on.
Okay, that was for you nerdy Greek seminary dudes. And for all the ladies out there. The Bible likes you too.
Now, the context here concerning the “labor” “toil” and “work” is about money. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy when there were at this church in Thessalonica, they worked other jobs in order to pay for their own food and stuff instead of asking the church to pay for it…which was out of the ordinary.
Both Jesus in Mark 10:5-15 and Paul himself taught that the church leaders, especially those who labor in preaching in teaching ought to be paid by the church. For example here’s Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:14 “the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
But Paul was a single guy without a family, had picked up a profitable talent where he could make some easy money making tents and/or leather and so he liked to not ask for money. So that’s sort of the impetus to his comments here. However, he’s actually getting at much more than that.
Remember earlier when he talked about sharing not only the gospel but his own life? Here he’s getting at the same thing. He labored for the sake of the Gospel night and day. Look at it, “we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” So while he was working, all the time he was sharing the gospel.
Here’s what I think he wants us to get from that. By making an appeal to the church here in calling them brothers and sisters he’s telling them how they are to relate to one another in the church and in what way. That day and night they are are brothers and sisters who are to be proclaiming the gospel to one another. That’s the model and example of life that Paul and Silvanus and Timothy left them.
And if you think about it this actually makes sense. Because I have three girls. They are all sisters. And they are hardly ever apart from one another, day and night. And guess what, there is situation after situation which comes out from their sinful hearts where we have to help them apply the Gospel to it.
For example. Two days ago, my oldest daughter found these socks in her closet she had now worn in a long time. They went up to her knees and were super colorful with flowers on them. What does she do? She goes to younger sister and says, “Look at my cool socks, your socks are just plain, don’t you wish you had socks like mine?”
So what little sis do? She bursts into tears and says I want cool socks too and starts throwing a fit yelling at her mom for not putting cool socks on her and starts trying to tear the ones she’s wearing off her feet.
We had to sit down and have a long talk about each of their hearts and what was coming out of them. A lack of love for one another. Jealousy. Anger. Sin. And we talked about how that made each of them feel yucky and how it upset God. Then we talked about how Jesus took off his royal socks to come down into the dirt with us and die for our sins on the cross so we could be forgiven of our ugly hearts.
Just sister life. And guess what? It’s the same in the church. In the book of Philippians, written by Paul to another church, one in Philippi…he talks to two sisters in Jesus and here’s what he says, Philippians 4:2-3 “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” Get along. Verse 3, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together.”
Do you get the picture? Working side by side together. As brothers and sisters laboring. Working night and day for the sake of the Gospel’s work in us and among us and in our city.
So…how are you doing at this? How do you see your fellow church members? Do you see them as brothers and sisters? Or just acquaintances? Are they expendable people in your life or indispensable? When you fight do you work it out or do you just end it?
What about on the positive side? Sometimes one of my favorite things is to catch my girls loving each other. Sometimes one of them will just go right up to the other and give them a big hug and say, “I love you.” Or yesterday, our oldest was trying to help her younger sister learn how to “go potty on the big potty.” She helped her get her diaper off, sat her on the potty, gave her a book to read and then was encouraging her…just push it out. It was great.
Do you tell your brothers and sisters of the church you love them? Do you encourage them? Do you try and help them push it out?
Now, I realize for some of you both with the mother thing, the father thing and the brother and sister thing that you’re probably still new to the church or maybe you’ve been here awhile but just haven’t got connected like that. To you I want to say just a couple things…
One, it takes time. You don’t come to feel mothering and fathering and see people as brothers and sisters over night. It takes time. It takes getting to know people. Often it takes going through something hard together.
Two, it really can’t happen if the only time you see people from church is on Sunday morning during service. So we try to offer all kinds of things to try and help you really get connected to other people. There is community groups, that’s a main way. We’ve got a welcome to The Resolved dessert coming up. Go to that. There’s LampPost Cafe, our music and coffee house venue. There’s a playgroup for moms. There’s tons of various ministries to get involved serving in, you get to know people through those things.
Church is for kids. So become kids with us. We have a lot of fun together. We’ll, what I’ve been trying to do with this first main point is to theologically ground what we do here at The Resolved Church with kids on Sundays in the Gospel. I wanted us first to see that the perspective the Bible gives for church is coated in family language where we look at and treat one another as family.
We are in a covenant as God’s people and that covenant calls us to treat one another like family. Now that we’ve sort of done the heavy lifting, let’s move on and talk about some specifics of what we do here at The Resolved Church and why. So our second main section today, though a shorter one, is “Kids and The Kingdom: Resolved Church Family Ministry.”
II. Kids and The Kingdom: Resolved Church Family Ministry (Mk 10:14)
Now what’s tough about kids and church is that when it comes to the Bible we don’t have a whole lot to go on. There’s no descriptions of any kind of children’s program or ministry either in the Old or New Testaments. However, we do know that parents didn’t leave their kids at home and were expected to be at the church gatherings.
So we’ve got passages like:
Deuteronomy 31:11-13 “When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God.”
And in the New Testament letters you’ve got words specifically addressed to children. So for example, the book of Colossians, which specifically says to read it out loud at the public worship service says this to children, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (Col 3:20).”
So clearly, God means for children to be in and grow up in church. When it comes to how that goes down there’s a bunch of debate. Basically you’ve got four different views.
1. Segregation. That’s where the children’s ministry and youth ministry are totally separate from the rest of the church and almost function like separate churches. The first church where I was a youth pastor at worked basically like this. On Sunday’s and Wednesdays we did our own thing separate from the rest of the church. In this view children’s ministry is more like day care or an after school program.
2. Integration. This is when you have no children’s program at all. Kids are always in church for all of church all the time and there is nothing separate for kids whatsoever anytime. In this view no one else can teach or influence children except their parents.
3. Connection. This is where you mainly have segregated programs for adults and kids but you have special events and meetings to try and connect parents to what’s going on with their kids. In this view children ministry is modeled after the public school system and their parent teacher conferences.
4. Equipping. This is where families are seen as primary, discretion is left to the head of the house, the church program coincides with the adult program and is seen primarily to train parents and parents to be, and kids are incorporated in part of every service. In this view the best of the first three methods are taken into consideration and applied accordingly.
Where we land as a church in the way we do things here is in the fourth view, equipping. The theme verse for Family Ministry at The Resolved Church is Mark 10:14, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
The setting is this passage is a teaching session with Jesus and his vision is the kingdom of God, so surely church worship services would be included in that thought and thus as a church we need to be sensitive and thoughtful about our welcoming of children among us and what is going to be best for them.
We intentionally call our children’s program “Family Ministry” to communicate that it’s a whole family effort, both with physical mom, dads, brothers and sisters and spiritual mom, dads, brothers and sisters.
If you go to our church website and click on the Family Ministry link under Sundays Worship Service, you’ll see the theme verse there along with this paragraph:
“The Resolved Church cares deeply about family and kids. We see that the story of God in the Bible is a story of God gathering a people for himself. This involves physical births and spiritual new births where we are adopted into God’s family through Jesus. Thus we see family life as the paradigm for church life and as such seek minister to children in a fun and safe way where they not only learn about Jesus but their parents are also equipped to better minister to them in the home.”
So what I want to do is walk us through it by looking at three principles which are important to us: Teaching The Gospel In God’s Word, Training Parents and Parents To Be, and Time For Moms and Dads To Receive.
First, “Teaching The Gospel In God’s Word.”
A. Teaching The Gospel In God’s Word
From day one, our primary concern is that our kids would learn the Gospel and learn God’s Word. In our experience kids too easily either just play games or just learn Bible stories but do not learn the Gospel. Above all we want the kids to learn about who Jesus is and how is the savior for their hearts and lives.
We’ve used different curriculums in the past which we made sure taught about Jesus every week and then about a year and a half ago we moved to doing something which I absolutely love and that’s where the kids read and learn from the same text we are looking at and studying out here in the adult worship service. So right now, the kids back there are reading and learning about being a part of a church family from 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12.
One of our pastoral interns writes the lesson each week, which I always have a chance to offer some pointers about where I’m going with the coming sermon. There’s a memory verse and with the older class a catechism question and there’s always a take home craft to go with it. Parents can get the lesson online each week through our Church Community Builder utility to see what the lesson was and reinforce it during the week.
What I love about this is almost every Sunday on the drive home I ask my daughters what they learned at church and they tell me about their lesson. Because the parents are in church they better know how to talk to their kids about what they learned…because ultimately, as we learned last week, parents are responsible to God to teach their kids about Him in the home.
It’s sweet because we’re all learning the same thing together and it’s a very practical way of exercising the principle we believe in of Jesus being the Head Pastor of the Church who leads us and teaches us through His written Word. Hearing the Gospel and learning God’s Word at church is for kids.
That’s the first thing. Now let’s talk about “Training Parents and Parents To Be.”
B. Training Parents and Parents To Be
Not only does us learning the same thing together both the kids and the adults help parents talk to their kids during the week but the vision for family ministry itself is intentionally an equipping ministry. This has been Pastor James Martin, our Marriage and Family Pastor’s vision from day one.
Many…probably even most people come into our church have either not grown up in a Christian home and if they did there was next to zero spiritual leadership in the home. Thus we intentionally view our Family Ministry as a discipleship opportunity where moms and dads can better learn how to teach and train their kids at home in God’s Word and the Gospel.
So we love it when dads are serving there and we love it when moms serve there and we love it when parents who are planning to have kids but don’t serve there and we love it when single guys and gals serve there, so they gain a heart for kids. That’s why I always tell single dudes, you want a good girl for a wife…serve in family ministry and I tell the girls you want a good dude for a husband, look who’s serving in family ministry. That’s the kind of guy who will love you and lead your home well.
It’s part of the reason why in the words of the ceremony we use for those who publicly covenant as Resolved Church members we ask, “Do you now publicly confess faith in Jesus as savior and covenant to serve him, his people and their children as long as Jesus has calls you to be in this church?” And then we ask the current members, “Do you covenant to help these new members of our church to love Jesus, to you promise to care for them, and serve them and their children as long as Jesus has them in our church?”
It’s because we see raising up children in church as a big part of what we are all about as a church.
Matthew Henry, an old Puritan I like says this on the subject, “God has appointed that parents should train up their children in the knowledge of (his law and Gospel) …that as one generation of God’s servants and worshippers passes away, another generation may come, and the church, as the earth, may abide forever, and thus God’s name among men may be as the days of heaven.”
Family Ministry is a training ground for parents and parents to be. Church is designed to help parents learn how to parent their kids. Church is for kids.
Well, let’s move on to the third piece of our family ministry vision, “Time For Moms and Dads To Receive.”
C. Time For Moms and Dads To Receive
This third piece of our church’s Family Ministry vision is that it is an opportunity to minister to parents. There are parents who need to be able to sit and hear the Gospel preached without distraction either because they are not yet believers and have never truly heard the Gospel before or they are Christians and they just need to be ministered to.
If you’re a parent you know some weeks are just hard, due to your kids and being able to leave with your church family for a little bit, so you can focus on God can have a powerful rejuvenating effect. This is an immense help to parents so that they can better serve their kids the other 167 hours in the week.
If you think about it practically, not having crying babies or loud children in service is simply wise. It doesn’t bother me at all because I remember the days when we didn’t have any children at our church and I prayed and ask God to send some and He did. So I love it and can handle it. But most of you can’t and get easily distracted when that happens.
There is something so unique about a sermon, where you have the opportunity to sit for 45 minutes or so and just listen and to think about your heart, your life and God and have him minister to you. We want to do everything we can to set things up to make that as successful as possible.
Now a couple practical things in light of that…
One, we take the safety of our children seriously. No one ever works back there who hasn’t been through an application and interview process complete with fingerprinting. The gate at the check in serves as a protective barrier to the family ministry area. And no teacher is alone with the kids, we always have works in twos. So we’re doing everything we can to make sure we don’t have any Catholic School boy and priest type stories go down at our church!
Two, a second thing. Parents are not required to check their kids into the family ministry. We leave that up to the head of the household. If you’d rather your son or daughter be in the service that’s fine with us. Personally, my oldest daughter, who can, sit in the adult worship service about once every 4-6 weeks because I want her to experience what we do together.
Three, we are intentional about having times in our worship service all together. That’s why every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper I say if you like you can go get your kids and have them participate with us. We don’t mandate anything, which keeps our regulative principle convictions in place.
That’s The Resolved Church Family Ministry in a nutshell. Let the children come to me. Church is for kids, not just little kids but the big kids who parent them.
And that’s where I want to conclude things today.
You may have picked up on it and maybe you didn’t but I’ve been repeating this phrase in different ways all throughout the sermon, “Church is for kids.” “Church is for kids.” “Church is for kids.”
Our work in 1 Thessalonians 2 was all about how church is for kids. Our work from Mark 10:14 and the Resolved Church Family ministry was all about how church is for kids.
Church is for kids. So I thought a good way to address our hearts to respond to the Gospel today would be by reading Jesus words in Matthew 18:2-4. Here’s what He says, “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
What Jesus says for all of us is that we must become kids. No adults allowed. Only kids get the kingdom.
This passage is where the phrase “child-like faith” comes from. Usually child-like faith is reduced to simply being a call to just love God and leave the details and the barriers to faith behind. Now to be fair, there is some truth to that. There is a simplicity to the gospel and to believing in and loving and following Jesus.
But children rarely act humbly. Which is what Jesus says is how you turn and become children. Children constantly think they can do anything and everything all by themselves. My two year old daughter will be brushing her teeth, which for her consists of sucking and chewing on the toothbrush…so I’ll be like, “let me help you sweetheart.” And she replies, “No Daddy! No! I can do it!” She doesn’t think she needs me.
The other day I went to the grocery store to help my wife get the groceries because she said it had been really difficult lately with girls. To make it fun I let my two year old push the cart while I walked behind her guiding the cart. But she kept pushing off my hands, saying, “No Daddy! I do it!.”
You see children are not humble at all. Constantly with our kids when they are playing together we are referee-ing between them because they fight over toys…mine, mine, mine. Kids are not humble.
I think what is Jesus getting at…I think He is getting at dependence. Children are dependent on their parents for everything…to protect them and provide for them. If a child does not have a parent doing that, they will simply not live. They will die, literally. If we just left our daughters at our house by their selves for a few weeks and went on vacation, they would die. They are utterly and totally dependent on us. That’s why when you file your taxes you mark, “dependent.”
So I think when Jesus says, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” I think he means we must become totally dependent upon Him. Our kids need Jesus and so do you. Do you need to turn today? Do you need to become more dependent on Jesus and less on yourself?
Church is for children…a bunch of children who have realized that their lives are lost and broken apart from Jesus.
Church for children who realize they need spiritual moms, dads and brothers and sisters to teach them, guide them and help them.
Church is for the place Jesus has made so that the children may come unto Him and receive the gifts of the peace and the joy of His kingdom.
The Gospel is the good news that there is forgiveness for us becoming too adult like…too dependent on ourselves…too distrusting of God as the Lord of our lives…too far from Him. All of it is sin and Jesus died for our sins on a cross and rose again so we might become kids again.
So today as we respond to the Gospel message this morning, respond as a kid. Come to Jesus, who rules and reigns and say I depend on you, I follow you, I trust you. You are good and I love you. Church is for kids. So let’s be kids today and respond with childlike love and faith.