If you sit in church in the U.S., you will often hear, “Welcome to XYZ church. Turn to the person next to you and ‘welcome’ them.”
In many cultures, welcoming someone means to invite them into your dwelling, offer them a meal and provide a place to stay. It is more than a simple greeting; it is full-service hospitality. This is what Jesus had in mind when he stated, “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5)
Making room for children
Welcoming children means making room in your heart for them. One of the ways we can do this is by listening. My grandson is at the age where he speaks gibberish. When I listen to him, he clearly feels loved and welcomed in our relationship as indicated by his increased volume and enthusiasm! Today, many children have no one who listens to them. And I don’t mean the kind of listening where you nod your head with a fake smile, while wondering who is pitching for the Angels tonight! I am talking about really paying attention and genuinely caring.
The second way to welcome a child in our heart is by giving them time. Carve out thirty minutes or a couple of hours to just spend time with a child doing what they would like to do—no agenda, no program. Get down on the floor and play with them. Read the Bible to them. Play a favorite game with them. Let them know that they are important to you. When we welcome a child in our heart, we set aside the complexities and complications of our “adult” world and experience a new sense of perspective.
When we welcome children, we welcome Jesus
We should note that Jesus teaches us that welcoming a child in our heart is welcoming Him in our heart. There are a few cases where He personally identifies Himself with a group of people and this is one of those cases. So remember, making room in our heart to welcome children is making room in our heart to welcome Jesus!
Every Generation Ministries is working with churches around the world to see children transformed in Christ. This Christmas season, join us as we celebrate God’s love for children and welcome them into our hearts.