It was a normal Saturday night. Preparations for Sunday’s sermon were complete. I felt confident that everything was in order for the next day. None of the volunteers had texted or called to see they couldn’t show up for the next morning’s service. On Sunday morning, the routine began: a prayer before coffee, a review of my message outline once again to make sure Sunday would be another exciting day. The service started on time and the worship team did a great job. The message impacted lives. There was a good response to the altar call and three people confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Nine years ago, this was my typical routine as pastor of a small church in Los Angeles, California.
The children were not so welcome
I vividly recall one particular Sunday. At the end of the service, I walked outside and saw a group of children running around and playing in the parking lot. A young boy approached me, and I asked him, “How was your time at church today?”
He responded, “It was good. Our teacher gave us candy, we drew a cross and memorized John 3:16…again.” Looking me in the eyes, the young boy continued, “Honestly, it was very boring. That’s what we do every week.” That Sunday, God used a conversation with a young boy to convict me to rethink my priorities as Pastor of my church.
That child God used was my own son.
I was so focused on welcoming people in our church that I forgot about some very important members — children! They were not so welcome. It wasn’t because we didn’t care about them. Rather, we forgot how important children are to God. Jesus tells us in Mark 9:37, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
As a pastor, I was concerned about how the adults responded to the Sunday service. I wanted the adults to feel welcome. However, I lost the focus of welcoming children in our church. I cried, prayed and repented. Thankfully, two weeks later, God answered my prayer.
We were invited to attend a leadership development event offered by EGM. I eagerly accepted the invitation and 11 people from our church attended. It was amazing! The next day, during the Sunday service at church, I stood in front of the congregation and told them how God had used a small child in our church to change my heart. From that day forward, our church started welcoming children in the community and in our church. The children’s ministry grew and thrived. God used my own son to change our church and change my ministry. Children’s lives were transformed in Christ through the ministry of EGM in our church.