Let the Children Come.

Recently my family and I joined a house church! It’s been so amazing to see God move in our community and it’s exciting to be a part of something new and fresh. I’ll be posting about why we chose a house church soon.

It’s only been three weeks. But I can already tell, this is the real deal. One reason I sense God calling us to commit is because of the attitude the leaders have toward all the children. The hope is to have our children participate as much as possible with the adults and that they witness their parents having fellowship with other believers. This is precious to me.

I never realized just how special it is to share in the fellowship with your children until a couple years back.

While on our 3rd annual friends vacation up on the Cape back in 2017, we had a powerful time of worship and prayer. Five small families, sitting in a living room, worshiping and praying, while our kids played around us. We felt God’s presence that afternoon. The Spirit was moving and changing our hearts. Tears were flowing, joy was building. God was ministering to us. What may have been the most memorable part for me was when one of the children approached his Mama to comfort her as he saw her weep. He knew she was at peace, but He was interested and wanted to know more. The rest of us watched as the little boy loved on his mama. I knew in that moment; our children were meant for more.

Of course, we have so appreciated the way the larger churches have served our family and our children. No matter where God calls you to worship, if you seek Him you will find Him. This is in no way suggesting the house church model is the way for everyone. But it’s where God is calling us.

If I’m honest, the first two Sundays were so awesome and so hard. There are between 5-10 children that come, ranging in all ages. Our children Jordan and Hannah, are 3.5 yo and 1.5 yo. If you’re a parent you can imagine that it’s difficult. They run around, scream, demand attention and snacks. They interrupt, they walk over cords, they trip and get hurt and cry. As all the adults are huddling in trying their best to listen and participate, the children are doing their thing.

It’s been a battle. Most people hear that and want to run in the other direction. Who wants to sit through church with their children constantly interrupting their worship?

But me? I’m so eager to see this produce fruit it my children’s life. I trust that it surely will.

Many conversations are currently happening about the right way to foster interaction while also facilitating a peaceful (ish) atmosphere for the adults. This past Sunday we had them join in for worship, prayer and communion, and then again at the end of service. However, no matter what we do to make changes for the better this simple verse keeps coming back to me.

Matthew chapter 19 verse 14 says,

“Let the children come to me.”

In this passage we see Jesus is in a large crowd. People bring their children to Jesus, so that he’d lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples immediately rebuke them and try to reject the children. Jesus then responds in love and encourages the children to come. He even goes on to teach the disciples that we must become like children to inherit the Kingdom.

God whispered to me while I was reading this passage:

“Shelly, you are just like those parents that brought their children to me. And I will not reject you or your children.”

Being a Mom is one of my life’s highest privileges. It’s a gift to raise Jordan and Hannah. But it’s also a calling. Jacob and I have been given the responsibility to raise our children in the way of the Lord; with the high hopes that they’ll fall in love with Jesus and live for Him forever. I have a pretty strong feeling God’s already got them. And you better believe if I was walking the earth when Jesus was, I’d be fighting through the masses to meet him and let him pray for my children.

Always look to Jesus, first.

Whenever we read the Bible, we should always consider Jesus, first. It’s especially important that we do this when we read the Gospels. We never want to overshadow his message by the responses, actions or reactions of the other people mentioned. However, after we understand Jesus’ stance and heart in the passage we can learn from the other characters in the story.

In Matthew 19, we can learn from the disciples. Why were they so quick to reject the children? Were they really that rude and mean? No. They were just used to the way the world ran things. According to society, in the days that Christ walked the earth, children were insignificant. They weren’t permitted to participate, they were equal in status to women- which was basically NO status. Jesus sure likes to mess things up, doesn’t he? I’m sure the disciples sat and scratched their heads wondering why in the world Jesus would let the kids come and “bother” or “distract” him? Do you think the children walked in a single file line, quietly and properly? Now that I have my own two kids, I can basically guarantee you that they acted exactly their age. They probably ran up to him, sat on him, pulled at his sandals, touched his face, hugged him. Some probably screamed for their moms when he picked them up. Others were likely shy and just stared. I bet if my son Jordan were there, he would have asked Jesus a million questions. He would probably ask Jesus why so many people were around him, why he was wearing the clothes he was wearing, why he smiled the way he did… a LOT of “why” questions. Like. So. Many. Why. Questions. My kid is so inquisitive. “Mom, why are wheels round?” Like, what do you say to things like that?!

Isn’t the world so much like the disciples, though? I hear adults on airplanes complain about the noisy kids. I get mean looks in restaurants and snarky comments about how to raise my little ones. How many times have we seen other people do exactly what the disciples did? To this day the next generation are often deemed as a distraction, a source of frustration. This shouldn’t be.

Have you ever tried to envision what it looked like from the outside that day? Probably chaos. But Jesus? He gladly welcomed them. Not only did He welcome them, He wanted them and loved them.

I feel so deeply in my spirit that we are called to do the same.

Let the children come.

Let them yell, scream, cry and interrupt. Let them ask a million “why” questions. Let them see their mom and dad love and teach and encourage. Let them see their parents confess, repent and be prayed over. Let them experience the presence of God among men and women that are desperately in need and want of him.

Let the children come.

Of course, there are some realities to providing children a safe place to be children. We aren’t expecting our kids to participate in everything we do. I can tell you as much as the next mom how much I love a night away with my husband or a girl’s night out. It’s refreshing to have quiet, intentional prayer time with fellow believers that doesn’t include wiping butts and boogers. BUT, much of the time, the children should be welcomed.

Maybe you’re not being called to a house church. I get it. But where are you believing the lie that children are a distraction? One of the biggest lies on the planet is that children are an inconvenience and so many people believe it. God’s word says that children are a HERITAGE and a gift from him. He even likens you and I as HIS CHILDREN.

If you’re a parent, are you bringing your little ones to the feet of Jesus? If not- you can start today! Maybe for you, this doesn’t mean bringing them into a church service with you. Maybe it means reading them books about God’s love for them before bed. Or praying with them often, or playing worship music around the house. It can be as simple as loving them like Jesus does and telling them how you can love them so much. Whatever it is that you can start doing, do it with gladness and excitement. YOU get to teach your children about the most important thing in the world.

The leaders of my church let me come.

Something God often reminds me of is the first time I had a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit. I’ve got a handful of times in my life that I tangibly felt the Spirit of God do something in me. My first recollection of meeting Jesus intimately was when I was a child. And guess where I was? I was in an adult prayer meeting. I was probably 10. I was sitting in on a prayer meeting because I had to hitch a ride with one of the leaders for Wednesday night Kids church. I honestly didn’t understand a single thing they were praying. But something happened to me in that meeting. The God of the universe hit me. I experienced him, and I knew it was him. I left that meeting knowing in my bones that God was in fact real, alive and moving. I’ve never forgotten that moment, and if you know me, you know that’s impressive because my memory is, well, not good.

The leaders of my church let me come.

And I praise God to this day, that they did.

There’s a famous quote by a well-known Christian named Andy Stanley.

He said, “Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

I mean, what else can I say to that? Nothing.

 

 

Shelly Jata