Young people do not grow and develop in isolation. They need to know whose they are, from whence they have come, and why they are here. Caring parents, grandparents, and older adults are in the best position to answer these questions for children. And in doing so, the elders of the community impart knowledge and wisdom to the young. This sharing of information is a way to nurture and protect our children as it empowers them to make sense of the past, to make wise decisions in the present, and to cultivate a vision for the future. There are several biblical reasons why the Church, even the nation, cannot move forward unless we connect our children and young people to their identity, potential, and vision (through relationships in the community of believers): It is the pedagogical method designed by God. The responsibility of elders and parents is to teach the children the way of God. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Impress them (God’s laws) upon your children.” It is the only way to ensure that the knowledge that leads to long life, and peace and prosperity in a nation is passed to each generation. “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, ad so that you may enjoy log life” (Deuteronomy 6:1, 2). God uses children and young people in His redemption plan. Throughout the Bible we see God using children: Joseph, the slave boy who became prime minister (Genesis 41:41–46); Samuel, the altar boy who became God’s prophet (1 Samuel 3:10–21); David, the shepherd boy who became king (1 Samuel 16); Esther, the teenage queen who risked her safe position to save her people; Josiah, the boy king who renewed his nation’s covenant with God and ushered in a revival in his country (1 Kings 13–23); Timothy, the young pastor (1 Timothy 1:18). God continues to use children today in their schools, homes, communities, and nations to testify of His salvation and to accomplish His purposes. Many children in developing nations are at a loss as to who they are; they need direction in life and a sense of purpose. To connect the generations, then, is to give our children a framework in which to grow up. When we connect the generations, we make our future secure:
- We give our children roots and a sense of belonging.
- We help our children establish their familial, spiritual and cultural identities.
- We transfer to our children the values that will shape their lives and our future.
- We enable our children to discover their potential and purpose.
- We give our youth a vision for their lives; and,
- We establish a bulwark generation in the present to counteract the work of the devil in the future.
How can we help children CONNECT with God-loving, Christ-following adults in the local church?
EVERYBODY KNOWS MY NAME. Use every means to make sure the children of your congregation are known. Use nametags for children and adults. Create a bulletin board with a photo of every child, his name, and interests. Fill the halls of your church (especially the children’s ministry wing) with framed photos of the children in your ministry. Feature a child and his family each week in the bulletin or on the church website.
DEVELOP A MENTORING PROGRAM. Children in upper elementary and middle school are looking for adults they can look up to and build relationships with. Create a small group or one on-one mentoring program. Encourage every mentor to get involved with the whole child—not just focus on the child’s spiritual development.
INTERCEDE FOR KIDS! Every adult in your congregation can pray. Get them praying for kids. Create a prayer card for each child. Ask every individual in the congregation to take a prayer card and pray daily for the child. Give intercessors specific prayer needs of children as well as Scripture verses to pray over children. At least once each month involve the congregation in a time of prayer for the children of your congregation.
PLAY IT SAFE. Yes, there are child predators that target churches. So play it safe by developing good policies that will protect children and the adults who are connecting with them. For more information, get a free copy of the Church of God of Prophecy Child, Youth, and Worker Protection Policy.