We Are The Church!
Dr. Wess Stafford, President and C.E.O. of Compassion International highlights the purpose and place of children in God’s kingdom in his book, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most. He claims that children are part of the church of today, not just “the church of tomorrow” (211). Stafford writes, “In more powerful and dramatic ways than most of us can imagine, God delights in using children to build his kingdom precisely because they are children, unsoiled vessels in his hand” (211).
Many of us have certainly been touched by children’s testimonies at baptism services. We have been inspired by children’s faith and beautiful voices during a Kingdom Kids song of praise. We see their joy to be at church on Sunday mornings as they race around hallways and pews, smiling and giggling. During Sunday Kids’ Communities at 9:30, children worship through singing, reading/listening to scripture, prayer, and offering. Many of our children also attend either the 8:00 or 11:10 service with their parents in the sanctuary.
Last Sunday, we were privileged to witness how children ARE vital to the church, our church. Children from age 3 through 5th grade stood up in front of all three services and boldly shared memory work from the Kids’ Communities 9:30 classes.
Signe Damdar, teacher of the 3 year olds, says, “It’s important for our littlest ones, who are beginning to talk, to start to use their words to echo God’s word. Through songs, we try to help the 3 year olds memorize and hide God’s word in their hearts. We never know when this little tune, a line straight from scripture, will encourage them 15, 30, or 50 years down the road.” The 3’s sang tunes to the Bible verses: Genesis 1:1, Psalm 121:1-2, Psalm 25:4, Acts 9:20, and John 15:12.
Karen Mann has been eager for her children to present their memory work in front of church. She thinks it's important for the congregation to see that even at 4 years old, kids can hold verses and stories in their heart. “We should never underestimate the ability of a young mind, “ she reminds us. Her 4 and 5 year olds memorize The 10 Commandments because she says they are foundation of living our lives. What better age to learn them then when you are first learning to read and write?
Karen smiles, remembering a funny anecdote about her student who prayed at home that his mommy and daddy wouldn’t marry anyone else because that would be breaking the 7th commandment!
For many years, Sheran Smith has taught first and second graders to memorize the books of the Bible. First grade is when the church presents them with their Bibles and Sheran does not want it to remain mysterious book. Her desire is to make the Bible more accessible to them as they become more acquainted with it. The New Testament song she remembers learning, herself, as a child in Sunday School many years ago. The Old Testament song is one she made up over a few of her half hour drives home from church. The students get into the tunes, which makes the memorization easier. She adds, “They also get really excited when they find out they have a friend or cousin with the same name as a book in the Bible!”
Mike Schuberth’s third grade class memorizes The Lord’s Prayer. He uses a specific curriculum that does an excellent job of breaking the prayer into 6 segments, explaining what it means, and pairing each segment with games and crafts. He is happy that the children are learning these important words that our Savior taught us to pray so that we can used by and for God’s will. “The Lord’s Prayer is a divine channel to the Father by way of the Son bringing unity, reconciliation and spiritual harmony between the Flesh and the Spirit of God.”
Robb Barnum’s fourth and fifth grade class memorizes the 23rd Psalm, a "classic" Bible memory passage of scripture that shows how we can put our complete trust in God. As a kid, Robb learned this Psalm in the King James Version, so his class has actually helped him relearn it in the English Standard Version. Robb is glad that the truth of God's word is not bound to a particular version, language or culture.
A strong proponent of scripture memorization, Robb says, “It is really neat how quickly young people can commit these verses to memory. At age 8, I memorized Ephesians 2:8-9 and really had little understanding of what it meant then. However, years later I'm still able to recite it and now have a much better appreciation of it. This is why we have young people do memory work: so it will be with them for a lifetime.”
Isn’t it wonderful that so many children are part of WEFC and that they are memorizing God’s Word? These testimonies also demonstrate how the children have blessed the teachers of the Kids’ Communities. Hopefully, the Children’s Ministry Presentation was an encouragement to you, the adults of the church this past Sunday. With the joy-filled voices of children they come each Sunday to learn God’s Word and proclaim, “We are the church!”