Can We Welcome Jesus? The Importance of Extending Hospitality Towards Children
A few weeks ago, my little brother came over for his first sleepover.
He probably won’t remember that day.
He probably won’t remember that he tried marmalade sandwiches because that’s what Paddington loves.
He probably won’t remember making brownies or having a picnic with the dogs or staying up too late listening to stories.
Even if he never remembers the details, I believe it still mattered deeply.
It matters because, one day, I hope he looks back and knows from his earliest memories that he was always welcome in this home.
And that welcome he experienced when he was here was a welcome in the Name of Christ that shows him how he is loved by God.
Last week, I read a post about someone who was handed a card during worship, thanking them for having their child in church, but asking them to leave so that the child did not disturb the other worshippers.
My heart broke for the little ones and their parents, but it also broke for the church and the loss of blessing that they needed.
Welcoming little children matters.
It sets the stage for how they feel the Church accepts them and for how they feel accepted by Christ.Welcoming little children matters. It sets the stage for how they feel the Church accepts them and for how they feel accepted by Christ. Click To Tweet
Jesus said when we welcome these little ones, we welcome Him.
“And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” – Mark 9:36-37, ESV
Loving little ones is one of the primary ways we can show we love Jesus. He told us that the way we treat them, is the way we treat Him. When we are annoyed, when we answer sharply, when we refused to be inconvenienced, we reject the Son of God.
They may not remember the details, but little ones remember how we make them feel. And at church above all, they need to know they are loved and wanted.
Children are not just the “Church of Tomorrow,” they are a vital part of the Church today.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. -Psalm 8:2, ESV
We need them in our midst on Sunday mornings. We need them in our homes. And when they are told no, pushed to the side, or quickly and quietly ushered out the back door, they remember.
And Jesus grieves.
We need to embrace these little ones as we would embrace Christ.
What if instead of simply tolerating children until we could reason with them, we modeled for them how to worship and let them model for us the beautiful, childlike-faith that Christ said was necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?What if instead of simply tolerating children until we could reason with them, we modeled for them how to worship and let them model for us the beautiful, childlike-faith that Christ said was necessary to enter the Kingdom of… Click To Tweet
Can we show the little ones in our midst that they matter, both in our homes and in our churches?
Sometimes, hospitality looks grand. Other times, it looks like spontaneously inviting your *almost* 3-year-old brother over for his first “fleepover” and offering your messy house, brownies, Paddington Bear, and lots of love.
Little ones need hospitality too. Let’s not forget them.
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Wow this is beautifully written and so very true! It grieves my heart the church isn’t welcoming children, how unfortunate for them! Thank you for writing what needed to be written! I not only shared and subscribed but followed you because you’re amazing!
It is so heartbreaking for both the children and the church. Thank you for sharing and following!
I completely agree. Our Church has a very welcoming policy about children (and the beautiful noise that comes with them!). Our priest always says that the future of the Church is dead without children. SO true!
That’s so wonderful! It’s true that a quiet church is a dying church.
Carli Ann Roberts
This was an amazing read. My heart also broke when I saw that card about kids leaving church. I would have left the church and never come back. My job as a mom is to model Christ so my baby will know how to love Him too.
BaileyCarli Ann Roberts
It is so sad. I hope that we can change the narrative and help the return of embracing children.
This was actually the topic for the sermon at my church last week. Every couple weeks my pastor invites all the kids up to the front for a Children’s Message. It’s sad to me when I see churches packed with older people and very few young’uns because of the exact reasons you talk about here. I remember when I was a kid and made a fuss in church my mom took us out to the Cry Room – which had an audio feed from the sanctuary. While I don’t love it when kids make noise and fuss in church I also know that they’re the ones who need to be there most. Turning kids away is the last thing churches should do.
That’s so good that your church is so embracing of children! I’ve found that sending them away is the default in most churches. So sad.
I am so thankful that the church we attend welcome families and children in the services. Sunday’s are hard, but my husband and I keep going because we know how important it is to show our children church and consistency. We also make sure to include Christ in our day to day. When they are mad or sad we pray together. When we are thankful we pray together. These seem like small things but it helps our children learn to go to Jesus for everything.
That is so wonderful. I know it’s hard but you have to trust that God is using the local church, and your commitment to your children being involved, in their life.
Shan Walker (@shanGURUwalker)
I love that you church embraces children so readily. Our staff says that our youth group is not the church of tomorrow – they are the church now and fully includes the teens in many ways that are typically off limits to them. I love it. 😉
BaileyShan Walker (@shanGURUwalker)
That’s so wonderful!
Our church loves the children. It is all about families. The children aren’t sent off during sacrament meetings they stay and learn with the parents. Sure your little brother will remember more than what you think.
That’s so wonderful that the children are included in the sacraments.
Such great thoughts here. As a society it truly seems like children are just something to tolerate until they’re “real people.” It makes me sad for kids out there who never feel welcomed or loved, like they’re just a burden. Let’s love the children and point them to Christ!
And I love the ideas you suggest for easy ways to extend hospitality to the little ones in our mix.
It is so sad that we view children as almost “pre-human,” even in the church, when Christ put such a high value on them.
Shan Walker (@shanGURUwalker)
Wow! What a beautiful sentiment. How precious you are – and you are exactly right. Children are gifts from the Lord and we shouldn’t simply tolerate them. I love this so much. Thank you!
BaileyShan Walker (@shanGURUwalker)
That are such a gift to our churches!
These pictures are adorable! Great post!
When I was young I soaked in the times that I had with friends and family and a lot of that makes up who I am. I don’t forget how lovingly I was treated or the way kitchens smelled in each home. It is so important to instill at a young age the love of Jesus Christ into our families.
That’s so wonderful. <3 It is so important to instill that at a young age.