By Mariam Bello
The Children’s department or Sunday School in some orthodox churches is saddled with the responsibility of teaching children about the reality of the Christian Life.
Teachers in this department come to the level of the children so that they can clearly understand the language and ways of the Christian Life.
Abuse is inevitable when purpose is not known
However, when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.
The children’s department is not primarily babysitting, nor is it a random school where children get scolded and motivated about life.
It is not a place where children show intelligence by cramming chapters of the Bible in order to reproduce it on a competition day.
The children’s department is not a place where parents dump their children so they won’t be disturbed during service, neither is it a place where children go to sleep, play, sing, learn choreography, and do other mundane things.
All these are good and can be done but they still haven’t done justice to the reality of how the children’s department should operate.
The department should mainly develop, grow and teach children about the personality, of Jesus. The department is meant to make children know and understand the Christian Life, what we do and why we do what we do.
The department is meant to give clarity to questions about God that arise in the mind of the child. The children are meant to do more prayer and Bible study in the church. (Act6:4)
Many dont see the value of children
But the reality is that most church leaders and even congregations do not see the value of the children’s department. They don’t know that information, no matter how little can affect a child and his future.
This is why, instead of having the right teachers, church leaders only look for adults that can keepthe children in check so they don’t disturb the service in the adult church.
But the truth is that the life of children is important to God. And the devil knows this.
Lives are so important to God (1tim2:4) that He will leave the ninety-nine saved men just to go after one unsaved man. God is so mindful of man and this is established in His reckless love that He gave His son to die for man (jhn3:16,heb2:6)
The devil also readily put in strategies, plans, and tactics to lure children from the light. He is always looking for means and ways to prevent a child from being useful to God.
It is surprising that most adults that are agnostic, atheists, or mere religious men all grew from the church. This happened mainly because there was no one to make them understand the God they serve even after spending many years in the church.
The Christian Life is wonderful and we are saddled with the responsibility of making the children understand this reality. Children even before they become teenagers can be born again, pray in tongues, understand doctrinal
matters, preach the gospel around, and even become useful vessels in God’s vineyard.
Children God used in the Bible
Children can live a wonderful Christian Life that adults have not lived. There were children in the Bible that did exploits for God because they understand clearly the God they served.
David for example (1sam17:48-51) became a useful vessel through which God revealed His strength to the Philistines and he was just about 10-15yrs as some scholars believed.
Scholars also believed that Daniel and his friends were just about 8yrs when they stood up to the king and refused to eat the palace food (Dan1:17).
Mary (Luke 1:26-36) was only a teenager when the angel Gabriel told her that she would have a baby.
Jesus(luke 2:46-47) at just the age of 12yrs, the Bible says everyone was amazed at His understanding and the answers he gave to questions.
Timothy(1tim4:12) became a companion of Paul to spread the gospel at a young age. Paul recorded that Timothy understood the scriptures even from a young age. (2tim3:15)
Children should not be limited
Therefore children should not be limited to just singing, dancing, watching movies, and doing all other things that are not critical to their spiritual growth.
They can do all those other things elsewhere but we must not lose grasp of what is needed to be done in the church.
If so many criteria are needed for “deacons” who were meant to meet the primary need of the congregations as recorded in Acts 6:1-5, how much more criteria is needed for teachers that will “train up a child in the way of the Lord”.
Seriously, the department needs teachers with an understanding of sound doctrine, with a burden for souls that will grow and keep them in God. Teachers that will fervently pray and labour for the lives of the children that are put in their care(Rom 12 :11)
The church needs to make use of the children’s department as a strategy to enable children to understand and enjoy the Christian Life.
Mariam Bello is a Law Student at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State