Before Jesus entrusted the feeding of the lambs to Peter, He asked him, "Lovest thou Me?" It was not until He had received a satisfactory answer that He bid Peter, "Feed my lambs." Every leader and teacher must be a true and genuine Christian.
Choosing leaders and teachers is a heavy responsibility for the church. The church which realizes a child can be taught all the fundamental principles of Christianity by the time the child reaches the teenage years is awake. A well-taught child can also be removed from all Christian surroundings, and those principles which were firmly instilled into his or her life by a genuine Christian leader or teacher will keep him true and faithful to God. "The eyes of our brethren and sisters should be anointed with the heavenly eyesalve, that they may discern the necessities of this time. The lambs of the flock must be fed, and the Lord of heaven is looking on to see who is doing the work He desires to have done for the children and youth. The church is asleep and does not realize the magnitude of this matter." Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 196, 197.
There are four fundamental principles that every child attending our church must be taught: (1) the fear of God; (2) the folly of sin and idolatry; (3) the love of truth and justice; and (4) how to worship the living God.
By selecting leaders and teachers who can fill the minds of our children to the fullest with these four principles the church will care for the lambs of the flock. The Holy Spirit can then call to remembrance those spiritual lessons taught by such a devoted, godly leader or teacher that in later years it will continue to be possible for God to speak to the heart and be heard.- W. M. Abbott, former Secretary, Sabbath School Department, Alabama-Mississippi Conference.
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. A child is a child from the day he is born, and his training should begin immediately. The importance of the task in its relation to the future of our children demands the very best that is in all of us parents, teachers, and ministers. All must have total commitment to this Godgiven task of caring for the boys and girls God has entrusted to our homes and to our churches. We need a complete reliance on the Master Teacher in all of our dealings with them, constantly bearing in mind that "a mind is not a garner to be filled, but a garden to be tilled."
In all of our churches we have boys and girls assembled each Sabbath morning, eager and willing to learn and participate in the activities planned by their department leaders. However, the determining factor of what these lambs of the flock will actually absorb is based largely on the preparation and attitude of the leaders and teachers in each department. These leaders and teachers must show a personal interest in each youngster. Punctuality cannot be overestimated, as it teaches dependability, as well as reverence for God, in meeting our appointments on time. These basic factors combined with cheerful surroundings will contribute greatly to the attitude the child will have toward his church and his God.
All these areas are important and are listed among the "musts" for a successful church programs especially among the children. But being what we are and who we are, we still appreciate someone recognizing our efforts so how can we as elders help our leaders and teachers in the church achieve some of these goals?
It is appropriate for the elder in charge to visit every Sabbath all departments, if it can be worked into his program. He can spend just a few minutes in each one observing what is going on, what needs be accomplished, and commend any new and progressive ideas which may be in use. He should be quick to commend and slow to make suggestions. (If they are made, let them be made in private, at an appropriate time and place). Those visits will encourage the folk who are working with and for the children. The Master himself made the statement, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." We need never hesitate to follow the pattern He set when we recognize that some leader or teacher has put forth a lot of time and effort to teach a lesson more effectively.
Not only are we helping to train our children for abundant living in this life, but for the Kingdom of heaven. What greater joy can be experienced than seeing homes cemented together in this earth preparing for eternal homes above?
Yes, a good place for every elder to begin his "visitation program" is in his own departments!
S. L. Dombrosky served as pastor at the Orlando Central Church, Florida.
Margarida F. Sarli writes from Silver Spring where she works for the Ministerial Association as a researcher and assistant for Shepherdess International.