I took a Bible class recently where I was assigned to write an Epistle to the Church. An Epistle is a letter from an Apostle. I felt so strongly about what I wrote that I wanted to share it. It truly is from my heart and I believe from the heart of God.
My Epistle to the Church
by Tamera Kraft
Dear brothers and sister in Christ. I, Tamera Kraft, apostle to children, greet you as a servant of God called to a ministry that is at the very heart of God – children.
Throughout Scripture, God speaks about the importance of ministry to children. Jesus even rebuked His disciples when they tried to keep children away from Him. In His admonition to Peter, He instructed Peter to feed His sheep twice, but He before He mentioned the sheep, Jesus commanded Peter to feed His lambs, to minister to His children.
One reason children are so important to the heart of God is because they represent the way we should come to God, with humility and dependence. Children depend on adults for everything. Without adults to provide them with care and resources, they could not survive. They bring this same dependence into their relationship with God.
Children are the largest harvest field in the Kingdom of God. According to Brother Barna, 85% of all people who have accepted Christ as their Savior have surrendered their lives to Christ between the ages of four and fourteen. The 15% of the Christian population that has come to know Christ is the exception to the rule and should be considered miracles by the grace of God. Yet many churches put most of their evangelistic efforts and resources into reaching that 15% and ignore the children. This ought not to be. If God has ordained that most people who come to Him are children, we should be reaching out to lost children before we consider evangelizing adults. A whole generation of young adults is lost because, as children, the church didn’t make it a priority to reach them.
This can’t be done through games, fun Bible stories, and crafts alone, nor is teaching children how to be good enough. Children need to be taught that they have sinned and are separated from God forever. They need to be taught that God loves them and wants to restore that relationship. That’s why Jesus died on the cross for them. They need to repent of their sins, receive Jesus as their Savior, and surrender their lives to Him. Being good isn’t enough.
Once we understand the importance of children in the Kingdom of God, we must make special efforts to effectively minister to them. Our best leaders, facilities, resources, and curriculum should be dedicated to ministry to children. Parents play the largest role in discipling their own children, and the church should equip and encourage them to do that. But just as family is not the only resource to minister to adults, there should be church programs to minister to children as well.
Children need to learn the Gospel and be discipled in a way that reaches them at their age level. This doesn’t mean the Gospel should be watered down for children. Children can learn the great truths of the Bible if they are taught those truths in ways they can understand. Just as Jesus rode on a colt into Jerusalem, children can have the full weightiness and glory of God resting on them as children. This means children can be saved. They can be baptized and partake of communion. They can be filled in the Holy Spirit, and they can be full members of the community of God ministering and being ministered to. Children are not the church of tomorrow. They are the church of today. If they are discipled correctly, they will become the leaders of the church tomorrow.
One trend I’ve noticed in the church today is separating children from the community of believers. This should not be. Children need to know they are a part of the church. In the Bible, children were included in prayer meetings, fasts, and times of consecration and celebration. We need to do the same. During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel would come before the Lord to hear the reading of the Law so that the children would hear it and learn to fear the Lord. In Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he gave instructions directly to the children to obey their parents. He considered them a part of the church that he was writing to.
One of the main reasons, children are not ever included in the main service is for convenience sake. Parents don’t want to deal with disruptions their children might cause, and pastors and church members don’t want children “ruining” the service with too much noise. But children are a part of the church, and they need to be taught how to behave in the main service. How will they know what is expected or participate in the body if they are never discipled in that area?
Another reason children need to be in the main service occasionally is because they are to be examples of worship. When the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing children to praise Him in the temple, Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, “From the lips of infants and children, God has ordained praise.” The word “ordain” here means to lead or begin. How can children do this if they never worship with adults? Also children need to learn how to worship by watching the example of adults in worship. Children learn what they see adults doing.
Children who don’t feel like a part of the church community because they have never been included in the body will leave church when they’re older. Imagine the culture shock of a child who has been in church all of his life but has never been in the main service. He has played games every Sunday, sang active songs, and had every message or Bible story illustrated with a skit, object lesson, or interactive device. Suddenly the child turns ten or twelve, or in some cases eighteen years old. He has graduated to big church. The music is strange. There are no games, skits, or illustrations, only some guy preaching that he’s never met. He doesn’t know any of the people. And there’s no candy. He has never become a part of the body.
Finally, let me encourage you to lead children into the presence of God through example, teaching, and experience. Children who experience a genuine salvation and revival in their hearts at a young age are transformed by being discipled in the Word of God and should become an active part of the body of Christ. These are the ones who will go on to do great things for God throughout their lives.
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Used by permission of Tamera Kraft, Revival Fire for Kids. Reprint from http://revivalfire4kids.com