In September 2014, Église Connexion was planted in the center of Paris, in Châtelet-les Halles, to announce the Good News of the Gospel to those who have never heard it. In Paris, that’s just about everyone.
At the start of any church plant, there is so much to do. We reflect on the culture of the city or neighborhood of the church. We plan on forming a solid team. We think about liturgy, songs, discipleship, meetings to set up, opportunities to evangelize, ways to welcome people… But do we think about the children? Yes, we try to have a small space for them with some paper and crayons… But do we see them as being as important as adults? Do we stop to appreciate their need to be welcomed, loved, and taught?
God creates and loves the little children. He gives the same value and the same dignity to an adult, a young teenager, or an embryo. In Matthew 18 and 19, Jesus brings the children to him, places his hands on them, and commands the disciples not only to not despise them, but to actually imitate them. The Bible declares: “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise” (Psalm 8:2, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:16).
How, in our churches, do we view our children who are so precious in the eyes of their Creator?
Is this how, in our churches, we view these children who are so precious in the eyes of their Creator? Or do we relegate them to secondary importance, without any real concern for the teaching they receive (or don’t receive) on Sunday mornings?
We must be intentional in our inclusion of Jesus’ youngest disciples
Our church plant started with a handful of people in their 20’s and 30’s. Most had grown up in the faith—some hadn’t. My husband and I also had our own two-and-a-half-year-old. Our deep conviction was that everyone, even the youngest ones among us, needed to be discipled—we didn’t want to just keep children quiet with some colouring in the back of the room while adults were digging deep into God’s Word. We were serious about teaching the truths of the Bible to adults and children alike, so they would understand who God is, what he’s done for us, how much he loves us… and what our response should be when faced with this extravagant, divine love.
Indeed, it’s not just about teaching children that God loves them and created them. With the Word, we must lay a foundation for their faith upon which God, by his Holy Spirit, will himself build.
God is the one who brings people to his church and changes hearts, but he entrusts the pastor to watch after his sheep like a Good Shepherd: he must care for them, feed them the Word, keep them from false teachings. Isn’t this particularly true for the youngest sheep?
We must, therefore, be intentional to include these young sheep and make them disciples who know, love, and follow Jesus. We have to be able to give them biblically-sound answers to their questions; but more than that, we should explain what the right questions are as well.
One of the most interesting resources we found to do just that is Songs for Saplings’ “Questions with Answers” series. “Questions with Answers” puts solid theology to music in the form of sung questions and answers. Through these songs, children (and adults!) memorize essential biblical truths that will serve as a foundation—a framework—for their faith.
The 6 volumes and 114 songs are based on the Bible and historical confessions of faith. They use Scriptures to teach about God and creation, fall and salvation, the work of Christ, the Word of God, prayer and sacraments, and Christ’s return. The songs do not shy away from theology, but communicate it beautifully using God’s Word through questions such as What Did Adam’s Sin Do To You? How Is Your Heart Changed? How Is Christ Your Prophet? Your Priest? Your King?
Train up a child in the way he should go
Our Sunday School class has grown to eight children now. We teach them that every Bible story reveals the character of God and the centrality of Jesus.
Our prayer is that as our little ones grow up, God will use the truths sown in their hearts to open their eyes
Will our children understand everything they sing? Of course not—at least not yet. Even as adults we will need more than a lifetime to grasp who God is! But our prayer is that as our little ones grow up, God will use the truths already sown in their hearts to open their eyes and draw them to him. They are already eager to listen to the songs (sometimes, many, MANY times over), and even toddlers know the answers to several of the central questions of our faith. Praise God!
In the end, we want to be faithful to sow good seeds for God to reap a harvest of children who belong to him over several generations—both within our church, and within as many Parisian families as we can reach. By making Songs for Saplings’ “Questions with Answers” music an integral part of our ministry, we are joyfully planting God’s Word in little hearts, and in the hearts of parents and future parents, too.
Until December 31, 2016, you can sign up for FREE Songs for Saplings music downloads here!
To learn more about “Questions with Answers”:
“Questions with Answers” songs are available in English, French, Spanish, Chichewa, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish. Future projects, God willing, are Mandarin, Arabic, Italian and German!
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6.5-7