Building Bridges in the Family of God
One important way for children and teens to learn how to worship our Lord is as they see adults involved in wholehearted worship. Just as importantly, adults can relearn what it means to be child-like and to be reminded of the Awesomeness of God as they partner with children and young people in worship.
God wants us to praise Him together-young and old, rich and poor, men and women—Psalm 148:11-13: “…young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” God desires for believers to be in spiritual unity with each other and with Him—John 17:6-24.
Having children among us should move us to see more of God's Holiness—Isaiah 29:22: “When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.”
Adults (Fathers!) are commanded to teach their children about God—Isaiah 38:19, Joel 1:3, Eph 6:4, etc.
God set up family involvement in worship from the beginning—Gen 18:19: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." See also: Exodus 10:1-26; Deut 4:9ff; Deut 6:7ff-God even attaches blessings! Deut 5:29; 6:2; Matt 19:13ff, etc.
God moves in unique and powerful ways when all ages are included in worship and praise—II Chronicles 20:13: “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel…” See also: Nehemiah 12:43; Zechariah 10:7; Joel 2:16; Mark 9:37 and Acts 2:17, 38-39.
Adults have a crucial ministry in the lives of young people and children and it takes place when we are together—Deuteronomy 6:6,7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” See also: Exodus 12:26ff; Deut 4:9ff; 32:46; Joshua 4:6; Isaiah 59:19; Matthew 18:3; Luke 1:17; Ephesians 6:4; I Thessalonians 2:11ff; Titus 2:6ff.
Children and youth can have an important ministry, ordained by God—Psalm 8:2: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Before God established the Aaronic priesthood, Moses chose young Israelite men to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings— “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar…Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD.”—Exodus 24:4,5. See also: Leviticus 10; the lives of Samuel, Josiah, Joash and Naaman's servant girl. Check out: II Kings 5; Daniel 1- 4; Matt 19:13!!; Mark 10:13ff; Luke 18:15ff; Acts 2:17 and I Tim 4:12!!!
Unity and love are the calling cards of believers in Jesus—John 13: 34, 35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
One of our greatest ministries as adults (not just parents, but all believing adults!) is to bring up the next generation in the fear and knowledge of God.
The Bible tells us that Abraham was chosen, "so that he will direct his children and his household..." (Gen 18:19)
Moses chose Joshua and other young men to influence and train (Exodus 24:4ff; Numbers 11:26ff).
God used the priest Johoiada to guide the young, godly king Joash. II Kings 12:2: “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”
We need godly examples all our lives!
How about Barnabus with John Mark, Paul with Titus and Timothy and the influence of Timothy's mother and grandmother?
God's plan for us in relationship to one another is different from the world's point of view.
Throughout the Scriptures, from Adam and Eve to the apostle John, we see the desire that God put in our hearts towards children and youth (It was a dishonor to be unable to bear children—Gen 20:17). God intends for us to treat each other with love, respect and humility as we worship Him together—I Pet 5:1-5: “To the elders among you…Be shepherds of God's flock…Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
See also: Exodus 10:9; Jeremiah 31:15; Malachi 4:6; Luke 18:15 and more.
God says that children are a reward (Psalm 127:3). Have we bought into the world's attitude that youth and children are a burden? Are we leading by example and treating them with respect?
Proverbs 17:6 says: “Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Parents are the pride of their children! What about the world’s point of view that youth are supposed to be rebellious and embarrassed by their parents?!? Do we reproduce this philosophy in our kids by our actions and words?
God's Word informs us that youth and children have a unique ministry (Psalm 8:2; Acts 2:17, etc.). Are we allowing them to operate in it or delegating them as second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God?!?
Should the Body of Christ ever be split up by age or gender? Certainly, there are times when issues to be discussed are better explored in homogeneous groups. Preschoolers cannot fully comprehend marriage issues! But, that does not seem to be the problem in the church.
We have a great deal of experience in dividing up people, though there are not many passages of Scripture that call for believers to break up and divide! Maybe we have been separated too much for too long! The call of God is usually, “Come together!”
Paul urges the Corinthian saints to “…agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (I Corinthians 1:10) In Ephesians 4:3 he writes, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…”
The main question we are addressing here is: How and when should we be together to learn how to worship together?
If we have a Children’s Church, is there another time when we are together as a whole?
How can we help young people and senior citizens see the value of interacting with one another considering the Scriptures?
How can we help single parents teach their children in the ways of worship?
How are children and youth incorporated in our services?
Are we planning our times of worship and corporate teaching with them in mind?
Children and youth can grasp deep truths—especially when they feel that the leadership loves and appreciates them (which is how adults feel too!)
These are important issues we are trying to address in our ministry. We pray that these thoughts from the Scriptures will be an encouragement and a challenge for all believers to step into relationships with the assurance that God has plans for us—young and old, rich and poor, married and single—to give us a Future and a Hope!
Dan Cutchen, Future Hope Ministries
7322 Blue Stem Road, Dallas, Texas 5249 (972) 283-4446 firstname.lastname@example.org