the weblog of Alan Knox

But they’re just kids

Posted by on Aug 31, 2009 in community, discipleship, edification | 12 comments

Last Friday evening, my family took part in “game night”. What is “game night”? Well, about once a month, some friends of ours invite people to their house for fun, food, and games. They started by inviting their daughter’s friends. They invited their daughter’s friends who meet with them together as the church, and they invited their daughter’s friends from Tae Kwon Do, and they invited their daughter’s friends from homeschool co-op. Then, their daughter’s friends invited other friends. And those friends invited other friends. Each month when the boys and girls (ages from around 8-9 through 17-18) get together, there are always new faces.

So, last Friday, it was time for another game night. Since adults are always invited and welcomed to stay and take part, we decided to hang out with the young people this time. We played outside games until it started raining – egg toss (the egg broke when I tried to catch it, but I think this particular egg must have had a thin shell), basketball, some kind of game where I think the purpose was to get wet – or to get other people wet.

When we went inside, we played other games. We played mafia (a new game for me, but I ended up being in the mafia… oh yeah), and signs, and a few other games. At one point, my friend called all the boys and girls and adults together to talk to them for a few minutes and to ask for prayer requests.

As I saw all the young people sitting around their living room, I realized something. Some of these boys and girls are followers of Jesus Christ… they are Christians. This means that these boys and girls are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are part of the church. They are not half-brothers and half-sisters… they are not sub-members of the church. They are as much a part of the church as I am. (Yes, organizationally, these boys and girls and adults are part of many different church organizations. But, relationally, we are all part of the same church.)

This is very important for me, for other adults, and for the boys and girls to realize. As children of God, the boys and girls have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and they have been gifted by God to serve others and to build up the church. In fact, if we agree with Paul and if it is necessary for the whole church to work together in order for the church to grow (Eph 4:16),  then it is necessary for these boys and girls to function as God has gifted them in order for the church to grow.

Every believer is indispensable for the growth of the church. Every believer. This includes young believers.

There are some very mature believers that God has brought into my life. I need these people. I need them to be part of my life. But, in the same way and not a less important way, I need the young brothers and sisters to be part of my life as well. The church needs them. Why? Because they are children of God given to the church by God. It is only in the eyes and minds of humans that these young people seem less important or less significant.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the church (in general) recognizes the importance of these young people. Similarly, because of the way they’ve been taught and the way they tend to be separated and set aside, I don’t think these young people recognize their importance to the growth and health of the church.

I’ve decided to make sure that I let these young people – and others that God brings into my life – know that I need them as much as I need other brothers and sisters of Christ. Then, of course, I plan to listen to them and learn from them to see how God may use them to help me and the church.


12 Comments

  1. 8-31-2009

    Hey Alan do you guys include children in the weekly gathering?

  2. 8-31-2009

    ahhh the young brethren… i love them so. they are at times better teachers than those that are supposed to know better.

    its that child like thing they posses.

    brother frankie

  3. 8-31-2009

    Lionel,

    Yes, all ages are welcomed and included in all of our church meetings.

    Brother Frankie,

    “They are at times better teachers…” Yes, I agree. I think its time that more of us listened to and learned from them.

    -Alan

  4. 8-31-2009

    I forwarded this to my local congregation. As I started to think more about this (generated by a brothers response), I think I too have often undervalued the input of these young believers. I think we may miss out on some rich opportunties, especially in areas of faith. Not to mention from a theological position they have been adopted into the family of God, given gifts for the building up of the body until we reach maturity and the Spirit will and does speak through them. I think many are intimdated by our “adultness” and have been seperated for so long that they may not know how to contribute, but if we generate an atmosphere that allows them to contribute what the Spirit is speaking through them, man, it may raise a level of richness that we are robbing ourselves from. Thanks for the post brother.

  5. 9-1-2009

    Alan,

    Once again, you are spot on. It seems that so often folks of all ages don’t think of themselves as part of same big church family- and as Lionel pointed out, our “adultness” can be intimidating as well.

    Young people have enlightened and inspired me where the most brilliant, mature theologians have failed. I hope that trend continues.

    -jeff

  6. 9-1-2009

    Lionel and Jeff,

    Thanks for the comments. As with many things concerning the church, we will usually agree with something in concept, but have no way to actually see in practically because of the way the church is organized or the way our church meetings are controlled. For example, if we place too high a priority on teaching for education, then young people will be unable to take part.

    -Alan

  7. 7-12-2012

    Alan, I suppose you and any other long term homeschoolers will understand the connection Im trying to establish when I say that homeschooling was Gods way of tricking millions of people into learning kingdom lessons at home because the churches have abandoned kingdom principles corporately. The culture of being together with all ages 24/7, the lifestyle of interdependence in the quest for internal social harmony, in an atmosphere of seeking, question asking and discovery all are kingdom principles that used to be natural outcomes when the church at large was a family of families, and more heavenly minded than we all are today.
    And that is more than a millennium ago.
    All that to say that through teaching our kids at home, we parents, most of whom were heavily secularized thru public schools and churches, have been dragged back to thinking and acting more like brothers and sisters than students and employees.
    I dont think its coincidence that the mass exodus from churches lags the mass exodus from schools by a generation.
    It would be very interesting to know how many homeschoolers, and their kids are also exiting the churches,looking for a church version of the closeknit life they had at home.
    In essence, christian homeschooling has less to do with education and much to do with normal everyday biblical child raising and discipleship.
    Malachi prophesied that God would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.
    Homeschool certainly did that in this generation, far more than many generations of child evangelism, church discipleship programs and Sunday School.
    Im expecting God to take the millions of kids that went thru the sieve of homeschool, unschool, house churches et al and reduce them down to a Gideon generation, at some point in the future.
    (just got a few goosebumps thinking about the possibilities)
    The kingdom of God comes without observation, (to those walking around with their eyes blinded by earthly dazzle) but to those who know their God, they shall do exploits.
    My wife and I have raised our kids since birth to expect God to take their meager offering of daily trials and the price paid by our family as we lived on ‘Daniels diet’ and turn it into His glory.
    They are very soberly grounded in the reality that in ourselves there is no goodness, and after 25 yrs of being in each others faces we have volumes of evidence to prove it.
    And that reality is the baseline starting point for the gospel.
    They didnt need to go out and become a drug dealer like dad to find out they are sinners.
    They have chosen to follow dad, mom and Jesus, and now each other and a few others, and that has made them very cool kids to hang out with.
    My kids, and a bunch of others like them, are the wisest adults I know.
    So, the answer to your question is: of such is the kingdom of God.
    blessings
    Greg

  8. 7-12-2012

    Greg,

    Thanks for the comment and example from your own life and children.

    -Alan

  9. 12-1-2012

    I am part of a church that is just now beginning to wrestle with the idea of integrating our children back into our assembly. I think most of us realize that this is God’s desire for ekklesia.

    I’m working my way through your blog, but I’m wondering if you were always inclusive of the children or if you transitioned at some point. If you transitioned, I’m wondering if you could blog about how that went.

    Either way, it is encouraging for me to hear that people have done this.

  10. 12-2-2012

    Tim,

    We’ve always included children in our gatherings, even back when we did the traditional singing/preaching gathering. There were a few parents who organized a “baby sitter” type thing for their younger children, but there were always parents who wanted their children with them.

    -Alan

  11. 1-29-2013

    I really like this post, this is something that my group has frequently brought up. It can be hard as parents to make the separation, or rather, learn to Not Separate… but if we can wrap our brains around this and truly embrace the children as part of the Church, we would all be so blessed. There is much to learn from a child. I think Children will function ‘as the church’ better as adults if they are allowed to practice it while they are young, as well. When we leave children out, there is always going to be an enormous portion of the puzzle missing.

  12. 1-30-2013

    Katie,

    I’m so glad to hear when other people are recognizing that children are part of Christ’s body and, as such, he will work through them to build up his church.

    -Alan

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