Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pastor: Do you preach to the children?

Confession: I hate “Jr. Church.”

One of the joys of preaching is having little 4 and 5 year old kids look up at you and expect you to say something they can understand and think about. I try to make it a point in every sermon to address the children directly – sometimes 3 or 4 times. In my mind, a sermon that cannot be understood at a basic level by a 5 year old (i.e. the main point of the whole thing) is no sermon at all!

Children need the Truth. Like us, they are “idol factories” at heart and have all sorts of whacky conceptions of God. Where we got the idea that it was the sole responsibility of a “Sunday School” to teach children is beyond me.

It would amaze you to know the kinds of things that kids can learn. I try to talk to one or two kids each week and ask them spiritual questions. We also allow for wide interaction in certain contexts and the kids will fire off some amazing stuff. My point is that they are not stupid. They can handle learning about the Trinity and the doctrines of grace and sin and hell and election and sanctification and justification... shall I go on?

It saddens me to no end to attend worship somewhere and see the children neglected. No wonder so many “church kids” grow up thinking church has nothing to do with them! It doesn’t – in that context. This is pastoral failure in my thinking.

Even men who do not have a lot of “kid sense” can still connect with the little ones through illustrations and stories – planted in the heart of the sermon... not in some silly “children’s story” (a.k.a. the “let’s get the kids up front and see how witty our pastor is and how funny these kids are” time).

I say, preach to the children. I have on several occasions taken a Sunday to preach a message just to the kids... the whole thing. If you cannot do that, then could you not at least find one spot in your sermon to look the little ones in the eye and help them to see how a text like Romans 9:1-6 applies to them? Challenging? You bet! But well worth it if we are serious about “preaching the whole counsel” to all men in a way that we are “not guilty of the blood” of any man... or little man, for that matter.