I have noticed in my study of Mark recently that Jesus loved kids! He rebuked those who tried to stop them coming to him. He healed them. He blessed them. He saw them as paradigms of living and faith. He was into kids.
For me the church needs to grasp this again. Our services are obsessed with making sure everything is flawless, no kids noise disrupting the glory of the prayers and sermons, no babies crying! Yet when Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, it was the kids who sang songs of praise!
I have recently noted a terrible attitude of my own in this regard. When I was a pastor I was really devoted to having a great kids program. I have thought about that and realised that my primary motivation was not the good of the kids but so that families who came to the church would stay. You see, I operated with the idea that if the sermon was good, the worship good, the kids program good, the youth program good and the church nice and hospitable, people would stay.
I think my whole attitude was wrong. I should have been concerned that the sermon preached the gospel and honoured God; that the worship really gave God the sort of honour and glory he deserved (worried less about pleasing the people!); that the youth and children's ministries really grew the kids in the best possible way into disciples of Christ! I repent!
I also knew that verse in the Proverbs about training a child in the way he should go and he won't turn back when an adult.
Kids are hugely important to God because he loves them and wants them to grow up knowing him and spending eternity with him. Kids are important because they need to be nurtured, loved and gently taught that there is a God who loves them and values them. They are not pawns in the church growth game. They are not a painful hassle to be removed from the service so that real church can get on for the grown ups. Church is not a child-care so that parents can self-aggrandise.
I now realise that kids are to be cherished, included, nurtured and honoured. We are to learn from them, from their innocence, enthusiasm, joy and enquiring minds. So bring on the kids I say.
Another thought. For many years the most receptive group of western Europeans to the Gospel have been kids. As they hit their teens and into adulthood it is increasingly difficult to see people won to Christ. That being the case, we should be making a huge priority in resourcing terms of evangelising kids. And not for church growth's sake! For their sake! For the kids sake! It will have the spin off of seeing churches prosper through some of these who hang in there with Jesus. But that must not be our motivation. It is time to get kids ministry back on top of the agenda.