Summary: It's one of the best know scenes from the Gospels, Jesus blessing the children, this message looks at why children need to be important to our local churches.
It was just about this time of year 22 years ago. We had just moved to Bedford to start what would eventually become Cornerstone and I had to fly to Colorado to attend what was called “Church Planters Boot Camp”, an intensive week long training session that included men and women from around North America.
And part of the process was each church planter was assigned a coach who would work with them through the week and would provide additional coaching as needed. My coach was a man named Jim Griffith, who had two things going for him, he had planted 5 churches up to that point and more importantly he looked like Tim Taylor who was riding high with “Home Improvement” at the time.
Because of my experience with Jim as a coach we had the opportunity to bring him to the district a few of years later to talk to church planters and re-planters. I remember that because it happened during the Ice Storm of 1998 and it was a crazy drive to the conference and because of two things that Jim told us at that conference.
The first thing Jim told us was “There are three ways to measure a person’s commitment to the vision, money, money and money.” As a matter of fact, Jim said that when someone told you how committed they were to what you were trying to accomplish you had to quote the phrase from the movie Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money”.
Not everybody will agree with that.
The second thing he taught us has proved invaluable through the years, he said “The person who will decide to come to your church the first time will be the wife, those who will decide to come back will be the children.”
Now I know that is a generalization and that all generalizations are wrong but bear with me.
He went on to say that if we were asked to meet with a family that we should go as a couple. He said that the two guys could talk about anything, sports, hunting it really didn’t matter. But the women would talk about the new church.
And we would do that, I would talk to the husband and Angela would talk to the wife and it would work. I can imagine the conversation after words, she would say “Well, honey what did you think?” and he would say “He’s an idiot, doesn’t know anything about sports or hunting and he’s a Habs fan.” And she’d say “Angela told me what their church is like and it sounds amazing, I think we should go this Sunday.” And they would.
And the second part of the equation was equally true. We have discovered that life is too short to fight with kids about whether or not they wanted to go to church.
When you and I were growing up, kids were expected to be seen and not heard, to a certain degree. We certainly didn’t have an opinion on things like where we would go to church.
But life has changed and the reality is that children often make those choices, or at least have a voice in the decision making process.
And we have embraced Jim’s advice.
From the beginning Cornerstone has tried to offer a top notch kids program, and it has cost us time and it has cost us money and it has meant that we have to constantly recruit the very best volunteer base that we can. That was true when we had to find eight out of the sixty who called Cornerstone their church home and it is equally true today when we have to find eighty out of the four hundred who call Cornerstone their church home.
And so for the first twelve years of our existence Angela headed up our children’s ministry, you seeing a theme here? She also played piano and led worship and led our women’s ministry for the majority of those years. A well trained monkey could have done my job, but without Angela there would have been no Cornerstone.
For the past 8 years Marilyn has led the children’s ministry team. And our children’s ministry is still a major priority at Cornerstone, in time, effort, money and volunteer commitment.
And the passage that was read this morning explains it even more than Jim Griffith’s words do.
We are in the closing chapter of the story of Jesus’s ministry. He is making his last journey to Jerusalem. A journey that will ultimately end with him nailed to a cross.
And as he makes his way to Jerusalem he continues to teach and impact the lives of the those around him. And we pick up the story in Mark 10:13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.