My closest friend from middle school just revealed something to his friends and family that I’m sure was a shock to most of us. Throughout his life – and especially during his childhood – he has struggled with gender dysphoria. He’s struggled with wanting to be a girl.
When he revealed this secret to me, I couldn’t help but think about what it must have been like to be struggling with those feelings and not having anyone to talk to about them. It must have been so confusing.
Then I thought about a discussion we had here at EGM this past week. Our staff was asked to answer the question, “What was your biggest challenge as a child?” The answers were really interesting. Just about everyone started by saying, “I had a great childhood,” but then finished with whatever their challenge was. Things like, “there was abuse in my family,” and “my father drank a lot,” or “I was bullied.”
Kids have real problems. Kids have real spiritual needs.
Children need the church to be the church
Just like their parents, children need Jesus as a savior and a friend. They need a church and community prepared for discipling children in and through real, serious struggles. Which makes me wonder why so much of what is called “children’s ministry” is little more than keeping the kids busy for an hour or so while the parents go to “real church.”
Don’t get me wrong! I am so thankful that those working in our churches love kids and want to see them follow Jesus. But I worry that we have grown ignorant of what children are really going through. And that ignorance has lulled us asleep to the significant issues that kids are facing.
Kids need us to do more than give them some cookies and ask them to color a picture of the Bible story they just heard. They need love, freedom, and salvation.
Kids need love
Real love. A love that they know, deep down inside, transcends everything they’re going through. Children see and experience the love of God in relationship with others. Of course, this kind of love ideally comes from a parent. But we can’t fool ourselves into believing that all – or even most – children have that type of love in their lives. We must fill the indescribable void that is created by an absence of love and safe relationships by discipling children to become followers of Jesus and being the safe people they need.
Kids need freedom
Freedom that allows them to share openly with others in a safe environment. A place where their deepest questions can be asked, and their greatest fears can be revealed. Is there any place more appropriate for this to happen, than among God’s people?
Kids need salvation
The goal of all ministry to children should be to see their lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that’s why we have to be more committed to discipling children, than we are settling for VeggieTales videos, coloring pages, cute songs, cookies and punch.
Kids have real problems. And they deserve real answers to those problems. God can use you to bring them those answers.
If you’re looking for resources that can help you give the children in your life the chance to respond to God’s Word, please click here and download our FREE Bible study for kids!