What would happen if all church elders would resign their positions and say, "For one year let me work only with the kids of this church"? What would happen if every church nominating committee searched first for the junior and the earliteen Sabbath school leaders and the Pathfinder directors?
Wouldn't it be a dynamic church if we specialized in working for our own kids! In addition to seeing that anyone who wanted it would have the chance to attend church school, we would have an abundance of activities at the church for our young people. We would probably never get over the impact on the church.
I remember what a church elder did for me years ago. My father was out of work for months because of an accident. The church elder knew that Christmas presents at our house would be in short supply that year, so he gave me a yellow jackknife for Christmas. Although I've received many other gifts since, few have been as important to me as that knife. That elder, Glenn Lemon, of the Buchanan Church in Michigan, has remained special to me all of these years.
What would happen if we would go to church next Sabbath determined to say something good to every child we would meet? When he was small, my son said, "Mr.__ talks to you, but he wouldn't even notice me if you weren't there." On the other hand, we noticed that our children were always good when we were with Howard and Jean Voss, because they would talk to our kids one-to-one, even though Don and Carol were quite young.
When I was a pastor in Minneapolis, a family with whom I had been studying the Bible was planning to come to church for the very first time. They prepared their young son for the experience by telling him that "Jesus would be there." The boy did not know much about Jesus, but he kept his eyes open for Him. They came to our home for lunch after the service and the youngster innocently asked my wife if Jesus would be there too. Stumped briefly, my wife stuttered, "Well... uh ... yes, Jesus will be here." (She was thinking that Jesus' presence is always with us.) A few minutes later the little boy ran excitedly to the kitchen and dragged my wife to the front door, saying, "He's here! Jesus is here now! He's parking the car." And my wife arrived at the door in time to see me coming up the walk.
How wonderful if every child would think that you and I are at least just like─Jesus kind, gentle, and caring ... long-suffering and forgiving. When I go to church this week, I'm going to think about how Jesus would want to be represented to the kids in the church, and I'll ask Him for the power to do it. Jesus said, "If you love me, feed my lambs." Let's do it this week ... this year.
Don Schneider is the president of the Lake Union Conference. He writes from Michigan.