In Matthew 18, Jesus is asked who the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is. He calls to himself a child and says,
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes on of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:3-6, ESV).This passage shows that Christ cares for children and loves their humility. But in addition, he charges those present (and by extension, the student of the Bible today) to receive children and keep them from sinning. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 demonstrates God’s desire that the children be taught Scripture and the ways of God. And when Paul writes to encourage Timothy he says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:14-15, ESV, emphasis added). This passage clearly demonstrates that Timothy new the Scriptures from his youth, and it is from those Scriptures that he learned and knows of the salvation through Christ. While not prescriptive, it does show the value of teaching children of Scripture, salvation, and of Jesus Christ.
Something else to consider is the single parent environment become prevalent in many communities. Clinton and Hawkins claim, “40 percent of American children are being raised in homes where no father is present. These children have more physical, emotional, and behavioral problems than children whose father is present, and it is more likely that they will be incarcerated” (Clinton and Hawkins 2009, 182). This certainly does not mean that the church is solely responsible to fill the void of a missing father; however, a children’s ministry program might have an opportunity to provide a child aspects missing in his or her life, as well as continually introduce the child to Jesus. Regardless of the program, the key is for a pastor to see the need and generate programs for children that will fill that need in a Christ-centered way.
Clinton, Timothy E., and Ronald E. Hawkins. The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical
Counseling: Personal and Emotional Issues. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2009.
Criswell, W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1980.
*Photo property of D Sharon Pruitt and used by permission.