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It's Different Here #9 – We Think Kids Need to Know That They Are Loved More Than Anything Else.

Carl Ruby

Kids matter at Central.  On a given Sunday, they account for about a third of our overall attendance. Most people who decide to follow Christ do so before turning 18.  We view childhood and the teen years as a unique window of opportunity to help make a lifelong commitment to love and follow Jesus.

We think kids need two things to become lifelong followers of Jesus. They need to be embraced by a loving community and strongly sense God’s deep love for them. Part of our approach to kid’s ministry is focused on just getting families connected with one another so that children experience the love of people outside their immediate family. The other part is helping children understand and sense God’s love.

Unfortunately, I’ve met some people whose experience in church as a child was so shame, guilt, and fear-based that they feel a need to shield their children from church. Nothing could be further from the heart of Jesus, who welcomed children into his arms and told his followers that none can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we must come in the spirit of a child.

Our understanding of kids and their salvation comes from Jesus's example and the teachings of scripture. Not once do we find an example of someone trying to scare or shame a child into saying a prayer to invite Jesus into their heart. Instead, we find him embracing children and chiding his disciples for trying to shoo them away. Sometimes, those whose early experiences were defined by guilt, shame, and fear never recover and grow into an understanding of how much God loves them and how deeply he has forgiven them.

I don’t think fear should ever be a primary reason for embracing Jesus. I don’t see the “scare ‘em about hell and get ‘em to say the prayer” model ever practiced in scripture. Instead, Jesus said that we can’t enter Heaven unless we come as children. Here, we believe that an attraction to Jesus and desire to be part of his great Kingdom is the point from which we begin a relationship with Christ.  

One unique aspect of our approach to children’s ministry is that we believe spiritual and cognitive development go hand in hand. We are careful to introduce subjects to children when they have developed the cognitive capacity to process them. A child’s spiritual formation shouldn’t start by convincing children of how bad they are but by helping them understand how good God is and how deeply God loves them.

Whew, this has gotten heavy. Let me note a few things about what you will experience if you bring your children to Central. We’re not the largest church in town, and we may not have all the bells and whistles that a larger church can provide, but here is what you will experience.

  • You’ll find that we care about your child’s safety and screen each person who works with children.
  • You’ll find bright classrooms in a space designed for children.
  • You’ll experience classes taught by people who will love your child.
  • You’ll learn that we have a curriculum based on what a child can cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually understand.
  • You’ll experience a holistic approach to your child’s spiritual development with your child’s overall health in mind.
  • You will encounter an entire church that senses our responsibility to help your child become a lifelong follower of Jesus.
  • You’ll become part of a network of families all facing the same joys and challenges of parenting.

If you’ve got kids and want them to know how deeply God loves them, come check out Central.  If you have questions about our children’s ministry, feel free to email our Children’s Ministry Director at hannah.pennington@ccspringfield.org.

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