Affirm Every Child

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Last Sunday morning a friendly ten year old girl joined us for the first time. Our group is small, but it covers a large age range—usually between kindergarten and grade 5. Sometimes we split into smaller K-3 and 4-5 grade groups after the story is told, but this week we stayed together. We had fun talking about the Old Testament kings we’ve been studying and deciding whether they belong in the “hall of fame” for their obedience to God, or the “hall of shame” for leading God’s people astray.

Later, as kids were heading out the door, I thanked our new friend for joining us and told her I hoped she’d come back again. A moment later I looked down to see a first grader tapping on my arm. “Thank me for coming!” she said. I grinned and gave her a squeeze on the shoulder, “Thank you for coming!" I said, "I’m so glad you come every week because this is your church, and you belong here!”

A scene from the Prodigal Son story flashed through my mind--the moment when the father is telling the older son, "You are always with me, and all that I have is yours!" On a smaller scale it’s like that with children’s ministry, too. There are kids that we know so well that we take it for granted that they’ll be there week after week. We enjoy seeing them grow and we love them like crazy, but we don’t always give them the special attention we would give to someone who is new.

In the Bible story, of course, the older son needed to learn to be big-hearted like his father, but this little lesson was mostly for me. Kids are innocently egocentric--they notice when someone else gets more attention! It was a good reminder for me to try to see things from a kid’s eye view.  

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