Having kids in the Life Team meeting can be a challenge. They learn on a different level than adults. Their short attention spans make them antsy. Even though it can be uncomfortable at times, including them in real church communicates to children that they are full fledged Christ followers. At our most recent meeting in the apartment complex, the nine children ages 8-14 who were present embraced their standing before God. In fact their actions enriched our time together more than anything else that was done or said by any of the adults.
Song books were in short supply that night. Several people were sharing. Jamie and I were singing from memory. Jimmy, a ten-year-old who surrendered to Christ through baptism earlier this year, was holding one of the coveted books. After we’d sung a song and picked out a second, Hafid, a PhD student from Libya came into the meeting with his little daughter. Once Hafid was seated, Jimmy instinctively got up, gave him his book and thumbed over to the previously announced number for him. It may seem a small thing but I’m in tears typing this now. Jimmy’s family used to be homeless. They have a background in drugs and other bad stuff. His step dad was baptized in the county jail in November of 2012 and his mom was baptized in December of the same year. His family still has much to overcome but in Jimmy’s action, I saw redemption realized and pushing forcefully forward.
After our worship through song and Bible study we transitioned to a time of prayer. I reminded the kids that they could pray too. I told them that Jesus said their angels get the front row at God’s throne (Matt. 18:10). They told me that they knew that but I honestly didn’t expect them to participate. I opened the prayer. Another adult chimed in and then there was a pause. I began to wonder if my designated prayer closer would speak up when I heard Jadon, my eleven-year-old, begin to pray. This was no perfunctory prayer; it was rich, theologically informed and relevant. It went on for 30 seconds which is like an adult praying for 15 minutes. His prayer broke ground for the others. Each child prayed real prayers for real needs one after another. It was like a prayer meeting within a prayer meeting and I could feel the angels hanging on their every word.
Children need to be among us as we gather for their sake and for ours. Neil Cole likes to say that children don’t just get a kid sized Holy Spirit with a Jesus action figure. They get the adult-sized portion. Let’s let affirm this truth to them and so receive the grace they’ve been given to share.
Just as a postscript, Jimmy and his family have been feeling alienated from God’s people for the past month or so. They’ve been avoiding our gatherings and we’ve tried not to pressure them. After we got home from Fair Park that evening, Jamie told me that Jadon had prayed two days earlier that Jimmy’s family would be with us again. We reminded Jadon that he had prayed this. He got excited and then said, “Wait, what did I pray tonight? I want to be sure to know when it happens!”