The future of the Church is … little!

Councils, meetings, events—one Church event chases another. And much of that which is essential and important is often inconspicuous and maybe not even at eye-level.

“But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” (Mark 10: 4). Jesus was indignant when He saw that His disciples rebuked them. Children are so important to Him that He made this very clear to His disciples. They were to give the little ones room, to pay attention to them, and to let them come to Him.

A task for “big” Christians

Jesus does not only want to be near children, He also hugs and blesses them. But for this they have to be able to get to Him. They are not to play the second fiddle or stand in the last row. They are not only to be able to watch Him from a distance but be very close to Him.

Making it possible for our children to have access to Jesus—and not because it could be a good marketing gimmick—is a task that falls on us “big” Christians. The appeal goes both to parents and grandparents equally. In fact, the whole Christian community is involved in this responsibility.

Letting the children come to Christ means:

  • making them familiar with the word of God and His will,
  • praying with them,
  • attending divine services with them, and
  • facilitating their participation in the Church’s teaching programmes.

Create access, remove barriers

And what if circumstances crop up that do not allow this? A lot of things can get in the way: family traditions, disagreements, even convenience. It “requires a significant commitment of time. Parents should be prepared to put aside their own needs and interests for the benefit of their children,” it says in the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church (CNAC 13.3.4).

God always finds a way, even today, to show little and big children how much He loves them. God loves all people and wants them to be saved. And this applies—as revealed by Jesus’ action—first of all to the children.

An example today, the Church tomorrow

Jesus did not only let the children come to Him, but also presented them to the disciples as an example they were to follow. Children are the criterion when it comes to receiving the kingdom of God. Jesus exhorted His disciples to become like children. Let us take this as the good piece of advice it was meant to be: forget about your reputation, your wealth, your power, and your financial security; the kingdom of God will not be reached with accomplishments and merit, but with a childlike faith.

The future of the church is … still little. Today’s young Christians are busy helping to shape the Church of the future. They are the believers, the teachers, and the ministers of the generations to come.

Even if they still have some catching up to do in the way of physical size, even if they have not yet made a name for themselves, and have not yet distinguished themselves by years of service in the congregation … they are the examples of today and the Church of tomorrow.

Jesus has given us an example on how we should treat children.

Photo: NAC Malawi

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Oliver Rütten
Doctrinal instruction, Congregational life