Serving our Children, Youth, and Families
By John Schwehn, Associate Pastor
One thing we know about Jesus is that he loved keeping the company of children. While adult disciples around him bickered and complained about the things he was teaching, it’s no surprise that Jesus loved surrounding himself with children. Children’s genuine wonder, joy, and laughter can cut through even our most stubborn and self-important moods.
Occasionally, Jesus would use these young ones to teach the disciples important lessons. One of these came when the disciples refused to allow children to approach Jesus. Taking them into his arms, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them!” He continued, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:13-16). According to Jesus, how we receive (or refuse) children into our midst reflects upon how we receive (or refuse) the kingdom of God. When we fail to welcome the most vulnerable among us, we miss out on the gracious welcome that God is extending to us by their presence.
A vital act of service
Sharing the love of God with our children is one of the most vital acts of service that the church performs. We spread the good news of God’s love by extending a safe and loving welcome to all people, and especially to our children. Unfortunately, the church has increasingly gained notoriety not for its welcome of children, but for its abuse of them. Stories of horrifying abuse have filled headlines for well over a decade, and we must take seriously the warning these stories herald. No institution—and especially the church!—is immune from the forces of sin and death that seek to harm the most vulnerable among us. Whenever the church violates a child’s safety and trust, the trauma of such a violation overshadows the love of God we are called to proclaim, not only for that child but for the wider community.
Because we at Christ the King cherish the wellbeing of our children, leaders of this congregation have drafted a policy to continue fostering a nurturing environment of safety for all. The Council unanimously voted on this Safe Boundaries Policy, which is available for everyone to read on our website. Under this policy, all volunteers and staff charged with the care of youth will be invited into additional conversation and training about our shared responsibility in creating a culture of safety and respect for our kids. Additionally, a basic application and background check will be conducted for staff and volunteers.
When we welcome children with safety and love, we welcome the kingdom of God. Passing the faith on to our children is an important form of service. However, the curiosity, questions, and joy that youth of all ages share with us has the power to transform our own faith, our own way of being in the world. I hope you will join us in serving our young people, and being served by them! Together, we can create a sacred space wherein all children are loved in safety and trust.
Originally published in the June issue of the Herald. Read the complete issue.