Helping Children Experience the Love of God

By Stan Friedman

IRVINE, CA (July 9, 2012) – “There is no babysitting in the church,” says Steve Burger, director of adult, children and family ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Every act of love – even the cradling of a baby in someone’s arm – is the beginning of a child experiencing God, he explains. Three stories of kids who were engaged in the children’s ministry during the 127th Annual Meeting highlight what can happen when adults believe children can be receptive to God’s love. Even though the meeting has concluded, the memories of what the children did will last for those who were there.

Burger and others had been sharing with the children that the name of God is on every breath we take in and breathe out. They told of how God had breathed life into us and Jesus had breathed into us the Holy Spirit. The children also learned that the unpronounceable name YWYH actually is made with the sound of a deliberate breathing out.

Later, Micah, just two and a half years old, climbed into the lap of Diane Borden, who was the children’s ministry coordinator at the meeting this year. He put his hand over his heart, looked into her eyes and breathed on her, which he followed by saying: “…. loves you.”

“We had been praying that the children would be attentive to the Spirit,” Burger says. “Trying to explain something this complicated to a preschooler can be difficult.”

Then there was the girl who is about four years of age who knelt to pray where two sidewalks intersected, as if at the center of a cross. “She put her head down low and was praying quietly,” Burger says.

David, who is about the same age and has some learning difficulties, walked over to her, sat down and watched as the girl continued to pray. After a couple of minutes, he leaned his head against hers, and they prayed together.

Another time in the same spot, a girl tripped and fell off the sidewalk. Without any prompting from the adults, the children surrounded the girl, laid hands on her and began to pray.

The children were living out the lesson they had learned during a class time in which they practiced laying hands on one another and praying.

Burger said he hopes that experiences such as these will encourage churches and parents to continually ask, “How do we provide space in which children can be attentive to the Spirit?”

And where they can teach us.

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