Have you ever heard an athlete or celebrity say that they are doing a good work “for the kids”? I’ve heard it many times and when a person says this, they are saying that their actions and deeds were inspired by or are meant to benefit the children. Well, over the Memorial Day weekend, I had a “for the kids” moment. Over the weekend, my family and I went to a BBQ with a bunch of friends and their families. It was a great day with tons of food, lots of laughter and lots of children and young teens hanging out and playing.
While we were at the BBQ, I looked at all the children having fun and I began to think of their future. Unfortunately, when I did that, it broke my heart. I thought that although these are innocent, playful children right now, some or most of them would end up getting involved in partying, drugs, sexting or whatever the new craz is when they get older. Talk about a “Debbie Downer“! I know it’s the age old question, but what is it that drives them to these temporal pleasures? What is it that causes them to search these things out? How can these children, playing around with water guns and swinging on swings sets branch out to these things? More importantly, I began to wonder how can we help? How can we, as believers and ministers, meet their needs and show them Christ so that they do not need to venture into this area?
First, it starts with you and your family in your neighborhood. My wife heard Elle Lofaro speak at our Church’s Women Retreat a few years ago and she challenged all the women to be the oak tree of the neighborhood. An Oak tree is a big tree that stretches out wide, thus it is a source of shade for people to come under. People can come to it during or after a long hot day in the sun and rest under the shade to restore their strength. In the same way, your neighbors can come and rest under your oak tree – your house. Your house can be the oak tree of the neighborhood where people will want to come, catch some shade and go on with your day. It can be a place where they regain strength and move on with their day.
By being followers of Christ, we can offer our neighbors something they can’t find anywhere else. As Christ said to the woman at the well, “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst (John 4:13-14).” As a family, we can offer them this living water in which they do not have to be thirsty anymore. Can your neighbors find this water at your house? Can they find rest there or is your house just like everyone else? As followers of Christ, we are called to be witnesses for him (Matthew 28:19-20). Therefore, our houses should reflect Christ to all who come into it and when we do that, children and adults alike can be impacted for His glory.
Secondly, as ministers, we need to be thinking strategically with our Children’s Ministry or Christian Education Director. Students don’t become sex crazed, beer bingeing students overnight. Nor will they become youth who are passionate about Christ and all he has for them overnight as well. By coordinating a strategic plan from childhood to young adulthood, you can give the children and youth a knowledge base that can help them handle each of life’s situations that they encounter. Of course we know that knowledge does not always result in appropriate actions, but it is our responsibility to help our students process that knowledge so that they can make the right decisions.
In life and ministry there is only so much we can control. Ultimately, children and youth are going to make their own decisions about life. But, what are you doing for the kids? What can you do in your neighborhood and in your ministry that will help provide them with a godly perspective?
TAKE A MINUTE and…
- Brainstorm ways that you and your family can be the oak tree in your neighborhood
- Set up a meeting with your Church’s Christian Ed of Children’s Ministry Director to start thinking strategically about a plan to minister to the children and youth at your Church.
Do you have some thoughts on this? What are other ways we can be strategic in caring for our next generation of Christ followers? Post a comment or suggestion.