The first book I am re-reading as I immerse myself in the topic of “children and church” is George Barna’s very personal confession and realisation, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions” (Regal 2003). In this book he acknowledges his own blindness, and suggests that this is modelled by the church at large – especially its leadership, with regard to the importance of children in the church.
In true Barna-esque style he weighs and measures the problem. He looks at the trends and suggests they are alarming (41). He measures the knowledge and values that children have and comes to the conclusion that American children are not being nurtured in the faith. He says this is even more alarming when you understand that most people come to their Christian faith in their childhood.
In a very moving chapter entitled “Why kids matter” he points out that, first of all, they matter to God. They are his gifts to us. Even more importantly, because they matter, He has given clear instruction to parents and the community at large as to the importance of nurture. I would add that we see this most intimately in Jesus’ relationship with children.
Barna also states that children are the battlefront of the spiritual warfare. The battle for the hearts and minds of children is where spiritual warfare is the hottest! He suggests that the more we invest in training, teaching, modelling, encouraging and etc. at this time the less we will have to pick up the pieces in the future.
Part 2 – soon. I hope!
Categories: Children, christian, christian education, Christianity, Church, community, Ethics, Faith, Family, Reflections
Tags: Christian, Christian Education, Christianity, Devotion, Faith, family
“Every time I hear someone teach on the Acts 2 church I wonder what first-century faith community really looked like. I can’t help but think there was something special about it that we’ve missed. It’s hard to imagine a day where people would pool what they had to make sure no one was without. While things certainly look different in our time, it just seems as if we’ve lost a little something. Something tells me community didn’t just fill a need in their lives to connect, it gave them purpose.
A Chess Community in Geneva
In essence, missional community may serve as one of the best ways we can embody the incarnation of Christ — putting on flesh and being Jesus to our world. When we live this out, the focus of the church shifts to hearing and responding to the Spirit. When this is translated collectively, congregations as a whole tend to take more seriously the how and when to engage communities where they live. “
Brandon Hatmaker, Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture (Exponential Series). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
I was teaching teachers the other day. I had to do the same sample lesson twice to two different groups. On this occasion my computer decided not to speak to the data projector so all the sample material I wanted to use couldn’t be displayed. Instead, I would have to tell them about it. Not an ideal but a workable, if clumsy, alternative. I explained this to each group. In one group they took this in their stride and made the most of the situation. The time allocated was nearly too short. In the other, no matter how positive I was there were one or two negative people who pulled down the group. It was hard to believe I was teaching the same lesson.
I made a couple of mental notes: teachers can be just as helpful, or annoying, as students. But I also reflected on my own behaviour in group situations. Did I always try to build up the group, especially when not everything was going as it should? How does my attitude affect those around me?
In community, our attitudes are so important. Community is such a precious and fragile treasure. Nurtured and supported it is beautiful and life affirming, but if it is neglected, or worse, deliberately sabotaged, it becomes a place of pain and anger. Broken community displays the uglier aspects of our human nature.
This incident reminded me that healthy community requires a deliberate attitude on my part. It requires a sense of grace and forgiveness – it requires me to treat others just as I wish to be treated.
Now where have I heard that before?