I realize we must be careful in re-starting our programs for preschoolers and children. Social distancing means little to them, and I fully understand why churches are delaying these specific ministries – often, until the public schools begin meeting again. On the other hand, I’ve missed these ministries (my wife and I regularly served in the preschool area in our church prior to COVID). Here’s why I’m looking forward to seeing these groups again:
- It’s been a lot of fun seeing kids playing outside during these past several weeks. As agonizing as the COVID-19 crisis has been worldwide, I’ve loved seeing more kids riding their bikes, rolling past us on their skateboards, and walking to a local fishing lake. Their enthusiasm and excitement are non-stop—and it’s especially fun to see parents with them the entire time.
- I’ve known children whose faith put mine to shame, and whose trust in God was unwavering. As a pastor for many years, I often had opportunity to listen to children pray, watch their eyes light up as they retold Bible stories, and hear their stories about telling their friends about Jesus—regardless of any potential fear or cost.
- Pastoring families has been a great joy for me. In our side yard is a rose bush that a group of siblings gave us when I was their interim pastor. In my files are drawings that kids created based on my sermons. I still remember other stories, too, like baptism experiences where littles one leaped into the baptistry with abandon.
- Preschoolers and children remind me that my academic title doesn’t matter. I carry the title, “Dr. Lawless,” but the joy of having that title pales in comparison to being “Pastor Chuck” to church families or “Uncle Chuck” to missionary kids. “Dr. Lawless” doesn’t mean nearly as much.
- Most believers turned to Christ during their elementary or early teen years. Studies vary in their findings, but the evidence points to the importance of proclaiming the gospel to a young generation. I want them to hear the gospel from me and see the gospel in me when Pam and I are privileged to spend time with them.
- For some kids, the adults they see at church every Sunday are the most consistent, compassionate adults in their lives. The horrible stories of abuse in churches are nothing less than evil and tragic–and must be rooted out–but many children find believers in churches who love them, pray for them, and protect them.
- Simply seeing kids in church is a reminder to pray for them. I suspect that many of them have no one praying regularly for them; even parents and grandparents often pray only reactively when the situation demands it. I want our church to intercede for preschoolers and children, asking God to draw them to Himself, shelter them, and use them for His glory in the years to come.
At the appropriate time, may we minister well again to these generations!