Children raised in the church more likely to stay in the flock

Published 5:12 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

When I was a child, I learned a song in Sunday School titled “Jesus Loves The Little Children.”
It was a simple song that reminded me that everyone, regardless of skin color, was precious in Jesus’ sight.
Now that I’m older, God has blessed me with two children of my own plus a 3-year-old grandson, Xander.
As I’ve watched them grow, God has used them to teach me just how precious life really is.
For example, when I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard; but children see them as flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on. God will use children to teach us that life is short, and we need to slow down and enjoy it.
Children need guidance as well. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, told us in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” However, there are some adults who don’t believe that.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great English poet, was once talking with a man who told him that he did not believe in giving children any religious instruction whatsoever.
His theory was that the child’s mind should not be prejudiced in any direction, but when he came to years of discretion, he should be permitted to choose his religious opinions for himself.
Coleridge said nothing, but after a while he asked his visitor if he would like to see his garden.
The man said he would, and Coleridge took him out into the garden, where only weeds were growing. The man looked at Coleridge in surprise, and said, “Why, this is not a garden! There are nothing but weeds here!”
“Well, you see,” answered Coleridge, “I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself and to choose its own path.”
As you can see, there are many things in life that need guidance and direction in order to become fully developed… and children are no exception.
A nationwide survey provides some statistical support for that truth, showing that adults who regularly attended church as children are much more likely than their unchurched peers to be involved in church-based and personal spiritual activities.
The study, conducted by the Barna Research Group of Ventura, California, found that old habits die hard, a majority of those who attended church as a youngster still attend regularly today (61 percent).
The survey also discovered that adults who attended church as a child are twice as likely to read the Bible during a typical week;8Atwice as likely to attend a church worship service in a typical week; and nearly 50 percent more likely to pray to God than were their unchurched-as-children adult counterparts.
That’s why I encourage our church to regularly plan to reach out and minister to the children in our community.
Some people have asked me, “Why do you go through all of that expense and trouble just for a group of kids?”
I reply, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black, and white—they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. And so do we!”

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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