Young children can connect with God. Jesus used a small child as a visual aid to show that the kingdom of God belongs to people who can be like the children. John the Baptist in the womb responded to the presence of Jesus in the womb (Luke 1). God points out to Jeremiah, the prophet, that before God formed him, He knew his future destiny (Jeremiah 1:6).
When we work with the youngest of children we can have the great impact on their future lives. Moses and Samuel both grew up in less than perfect places, yet both had godly mothers who nurtured them in the first few years of their lives in preparation for their future destiny. When we work with children in our toddler groups, any opportunity we have to allow them to connect with God is a potential life-changing opportunity. So how can we help them to connect with God?
The Word of God
One Easter we taught some toddlers about how Jesus swapped everything at the cross. One person came on with a naughty sign around their neck. When they came to the cross Jesus swapped their naughtiness for his goodness. For another Jesus swapped their sadness at the cross. For a third Jesus swapped their sickness. We then invited all the children to come and swap bad things for his good things at the cross of Jesus.
One four-year-old, who had regressed to wearing nappies for school. The week after this teaching her mother said, “Quickly put your nappy on. It’s time to go to school.” The girl replied, “No, mummy. Jesus swapped my nappy at the cross.” From that day on she no longer needed to wear nappies.
One month later a two-year-old boy was being told off by his mummy. When she had finished reprimanding him, he turned to his mum thoughtfully and gazed at her through his big brown eyes. “Mummy, Jesus swapped my naughtiness at the cross.”
It’s not just the Bible that changes their lives, children’s worship is also significant. Psalm 8:2 says “Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants God has ordained strength to silence the foe and the avenger.” In other words when young children praise God, it is not cute, it is powerful.
One day, in a crèche programme, there was chaos all around. It was one of those days when it felt like everyone was crying. The leaders had done everything they could think of to calm things down, without success, and now they had moved into survival mode waiting for the session to end.
One two-year-old stood in the middle of the room and started to speak. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus loves us every day. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus loves us every week.” By the time she had finished the whole room was calm. She knelt down and sang a new song to God. Her praise had changed the atmosphere.
Imagine the power of praise being taken from the toddler groups into the homes of their families.
Let’s Be Intentional
As we minister to the children and families week by week, let’s remember that God can use us to ignite a spark for Him. As we worship God using the songs we sing, many children will copy us.
Let’s also be intentional about what we say to the children, speaking words over them that match what God thinks about them. When Jesus blessed the children it was not simply a nice phrase to say it was a life changing moment in their lives. There is power in the words of blessing that we speak over our children.
Together, in this often godless society we can raise a generation who can be part of the solution to turn the tide of our nation.