"Tahoma","sans-serif""">Discipleship For The Future

Gen. 30: 1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became
jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll
color:#00B0F0""> [AMP]mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#00B0F0;mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;

Gen. 30: 1When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became
jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";color:#00B0F0"">[NLT]"Times New Roman";color:#00B0F0;mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language:

font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language:EN-GB;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">This
text is prophetic of the church. If we don’t have the children the church is

"Times New Roman";mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language:EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">When the church in Jamaica saw that she was not
bearing the Kingdom much children she became jealous of the world , so she
pleaded with her leaders, Give me children or I will die.

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language: EN-GB;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Data from 
the Statistical Institute of Jamaica indicate that at the latest count,
June 2009 overall 70% of Jamaicans are 40 and under:  0-4: 221, 8245, 5 – 9: 241,182, 10 – 14: 276,
661.   The largest group of residents
are10-14 year olds, followed very closely by the 0-4 and 5-9 age range.

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">Stories from primary schools in Greater Portmore: mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-font-kerning:18.0pt;mso-fareast-language:
EN-GB;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"> 8 year
old’s indicating that they are having sex, grade 5 boys wanting to know why are
the girls giving them bun, “ I want to be a Grind-a-cologist”, “I want to be a
soldier because me love kill people”, grade 4 boys at  experimenting with each other.

Except in the minds of the callous and apathetic it should be painfully obvious that there
is a generation of children and youth whose vision of their lives is myopic due
to wrong mindsets and attitudes built up over the years through negative
influences, poor parenting, lack of emotional support through positive role
models and fragmented communities with the constant threat of crime and
violence.  Even with existing
interventions, there is insufficient focus on character development and values,
lending to a growing moral decay amongst children and youth.

Due to these circumstances, an alarming number 
of youth under the age of 16 years in the community may be labelled ‘at
risk’ of dropping out of school and/or engaging in deviant behaviour; having
poor academic performance, aggression and anti-social tendencies plus a general
lack of motivationfootnote"">mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:
Failure to address their need for support and empowerment will result in an
endemic of hopelessness, increased violence and criminal activity. In addition,
youth will typically have no real sense of human/social responsibility as well
as abbreviated life spans.  

Yet as obvious and disturbing as these realities are the church of Jesus

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif""">for the most part pays scant regard to the issues surrounding children on a whole and pay what is tantamount to lip
service to intentional children’s ministry. 
The words of Evang. Lloyd Burnett, guest speaker at the induction
service for Pastor Napoleon Black in 2001 have been indelible etched in my mind
and still haunt me today: “
200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
We are a bunch of terrorists, we have these high benches and have the children
sitting on them for hours with their little feet dangling over the edges and
they don’t have a clue what is going on and we expect them to keep still and
when they move we murder them with lick!”  To be fair there are some churches that do
have some form of ministry to children and for this we are grateful, but truth
be told what obtains more often than not may be likened to the trawling form of
12.0pt;line-height:200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif""">We're trolling,
meaning that the boat is moving ahead slowly, dragging behind it a barbed lure
in hopes some hapless fish will come across it. To me, trolling is a bit like
discharging a shotgun out your kitchen window, hoping
you'll hit a chicken.  The scattershot
approach may have worked well at some point in ministry past but will not cut
it given the rapidly changing landscape of the context in which the church now
has to do ministry.

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif""">          I speak of (1) The church no longer enjoys the position of privilege it once held
because the prevailing culture is increasingly secular as a result of the post
modern phenomenon or post Christian. 
(2)  A culture shift taking place
under the quiet but with profound implications, expressing itself as a
disengagement.  That is to say
mso-ansi-language:EN-US"">: A new generation has grown up who not only are not
church-goers, but whose parents have never been in church either.  Gone are the days when parents consider it
important to send their children to Sabbath/Sunday School.  (3) Biblical illiteracy in the church.  ILLITERACY IN THE CHURCH: (Is that really
in the Bible?) "The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of
biblical illiteracy," warns researcher George Barna. "How else can
You describe matters when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the
Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to
evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to
forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate
or even less firm?"  My own
experience working with children and youth across Jamaica and the Caribbean
bears this out.

EN-GB;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"">          With this picture painted before us, I borrow the title of Chuck Colson and Nancy
Pearson’s book to challenge us, “How Now Shall We Live?” Can it be business as
usual? You who have been blessed with this training, graduating today, What are
your dreams for your children at church? Your community? Jamaica?   Allow me to offer some considerations as we
go forward.

1;mso-list:l1 level1 lfo2"">font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:Tahoma"">1.    Seize every
opportunity to share the vision of the importance of

Children Ministry."Tahoma","sans-serif""">  Breathe, eat and
sleep that passion. One cannot read the Gospel and miss this point.   Jesus makes it abundantly clear that
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"">Children,
as well as adults, need the touch of Jesus on their lives.   Here are some points you can share :

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">(1)  Children are precious in Jesus’ sight.  He loves
them!  He wants children to be brought to Him.   Let the little children come to me and do
not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  (Mk. 10:14)

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">2)  Children need help in learning how to navigate in today’s world
… and they have so much of life ahead of them. Faced with abuse, divorce, crime
and other anxieties, many children are feeling

  • "Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"">. . . vulnerable – What if this happens to me?
  • "Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"">. . . frightened – Where can I go to be safe?
  • "Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"">. . . hopeless – Who is going to protect me?
  • "Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"">. . . helpless – There’s nothing I can do to keep it from happening.

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">They need the touch of Jesus.  They need His help to cope and deal
just as we adults do.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come.”

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">3)  Children are a part of today’s church, not merely the church of
tomorrow. They are just as much a part of the body as adults if they know Jesus
as their Savior.  The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  Around the world God is raising up child
prophets, preachers, healers and evangelists and intercessors. Why not here?

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">As you look at the Greatest Commandments and the Great Commission and
 read passages about the church (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians
4), no one is excluded.  There is no junior Holy Spirit or junior

4)  Children need a Saviour and are at a prime age to trust in Him.  According to a Barna report, “nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so
before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again
Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.”  Based on these findings, childhood is a
critical time to reach people for Jesus.  “Let the little children come!”  Ministry to children is important. 
Whether you teach or help in any other capacity, you have a strategic role that
goes beyond simply showing up and following a script.  You have a vital

George Barna puts it this way: "The research is very clear: if Jesus is not already part of their lives by the time they leave junior high school, the
chances of them accepting Him as their Lord and savior is very slim (6%, to be
exact). With children, it is just the opposite. Because of the challenges and
insecurities they face in life, they are very open to being a part of a
community of like-minded people who grow together. Children have a tremendous
influence within their families and on the choices they make in all areas of
life...The greatest evangelical window currently available is among young
children."   Given this well
established fact, how can we continue to plan the way we do for evangelism?
Where is it being reflected in our church budgets that we are concerned about
reaching the children? Is a chandelier for the sanctuary worth more than a

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">          

"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language: EN-GB">normal"">2. The second consideration is that the church needs to be the
forerunner on issues of justice for children. 
 Scripture is replete with
examples of God’s enduring concern for the most vulnerable in the society. 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is
this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world.  Jesus
reserved one of his harshest pronouncements for those who lead ildren
astray.  It is to our discredit as the
church that we have not been as strident as we need to be to defend the cause
of the children of our nation.  Could it
be that God is calling more churches to invest in safe houses? Could it be that
God is calling for some ladies to volunteer themselves to be house mothers  at the state run children homes? 
"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">We must laud the tremendous
passion of sister Betty-Ann Blane, convenor of Hear The Children’s Cry, the
divine appointment of Sis. Deacon Mary Clarke as Children’s advocate and the
yeoman’s contribution of sister Her Honour Justice Paula Blake-Powell in the
crafting of the Child Care and Protection act. 
Justice demands that we report all forms of abuse to our children, even
if and when it is the don who is guilty. Justice demands that we report all
cases of incest even if and when it is our son or nephew who is guilty.    I charge you graduates today be the voice
of one calling in the wilderness, make straight paths for our children, lay the
axe at the root of every evil tree.

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">          

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">3. The third and final consideration I
wish to leave with us is that we challenge
our minds to become more innovative in how we deliver children ministry. 
1 Chron. 12: 32 describes some of God’s
people as the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what to
do.   It would seem that among humans
religious persons seem most resistant to change.  Rick Warrens says the last words of a dying
church are ‘we have never done it this way.’ 
The Jamaica Youth For Christ motto is instructive here: Geared to the
times, anchored to The Rock.’ 

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">I
challenge you to sit before the Spirit of God, with the training that you have
received, spend time, quality time in his presence and ask him to increase your
innovative and creative side exponentially. Write down your ideas, make notes
on what worked well and what didn’t quite work, share your ideas and success
stories with each other.  Utilize the
tremendous power of the internet to foster partnerships and linkages with other
children ministers around the world.  The
lame excuse of ‘the children not coming out to Sunday school’ is no longer
acceptable. Get to know their parents, have a bag juice club, play ring games
and memory verse in a yard, make a cell phone movie about the memory
verse.   What’s in you?

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">          

200%;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"">When the church in Jamaica saw that she was not
bearing the Kingdom much children she became jealous of the world , so she
pleaded with her leaders, Give me children or I will die.  Then the world scoffed at her and said it’s
not our fault you have no children, look at us, they know our daggering songs,
they are our ramping shop, they are on the gully side and on the gaza, we have
them in the clubs and with the drugs. 
Then the church said to its leaders and it’s members, give us children,
we are dying.  Give us children they are
this generation and the next.


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