Keeping Kids Safe in an Unsafe World
Our world becomes increasingly unsafe each day. From wars on the other side of the planet to bullying on the playground of our neighborhood school, children’s safety is one of the churches primary concerns.
Let’s focus on 3 tools we can use to keep kids safe in the dangerous times in which we live. Our first and most trusted tool is prayer. God says in Isaiah 33:6, “He will be the sure foundation for your times.” Because of this, we must make God the foundation of our ministry and of our teaching. Surrounding all we do in prayer, asking for God’s guidance and direction, seeking His wisdom and His creative thoughts, will help us to safeguard the children in our care. Churches in general have less than 40 hours a year, on average, to influence children and families. This makes it difficult to instill principles, to encourage spiritual growth and to feel like we are having a lasting impact. Prayer is the tool that multiplies our efforts exponentially.
Our second tool is parents. We must partner with parents, equipping them to do their job as the primary spiritual teachers of their children. In Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna writes, “Our national surveys have shown that while more than 4 out of 5 parents (85%) believe they have the primary responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of their children, more than two out of three of them abdicate that responsibility to their church.” We must help parents leverage the 3000 hours they have with their children each year to train their children to know, love and obey God.
Two of the most pressing dangers that pastors and parents must be aware of are:
Media – video games, music, TV shows, movies, pornography
Bullying – Peer pressure – suicide
Satan is specifically targeting children in order to destroy the upcoming generation. The violence and sexuality in almost every form of media is designed to strip away the innocence of our children and desensitize them to the presence of God. That violence spills over onto the school bus and the cafeteria but it also spills over into our children’s ministry classrooms, in the form of bullying and peer pressure to do wrong. Parents must be on their guard at all times because sin is subtle. Most TV shows expose our families to pornography. It has crept in so quietly that many times we have accepted these things without a fight. We wonder why children can’t sleep or have behavioral problems and many times it directly links back to what movies they have seen or what video games they are playing.
To keep our children safe, we must sound the alarm so that parents awaken to the plan Satan has and be alert to the perilous times in which we live. We don’t live in fear, we live by faith. Our lives built on God…the firm foundation. An important key for parents is to make sure there is no disconnect in the way they live their lives at home and in what they do at church. Tying the two together is a must! Making God the center of our everyday living is a goal and something we must be making progress in at all times.
Another way to affect children for good is to have meaningful conversations. Allowing children time to express their thoughts and to feel safe sharing what is happening at school, on the bus, when they are with friends, etc, is key to having insight into their lives. The number of children trying to commit suicide or self-harming in other ways is on the rise. Pastors and parents must be alert to the signs of these dangers. Being proactive through conversations and role-play of situations that could cause a child to feel emotionally boxed in enough to self-harm, is a great way to keep communication open.
A third tool we use to keep kids safe in an unsafe world is to provide the best children’s ministry possible in our churches. There must be a priority in finances, in recruiting of volunteers and in training so that some of the best resources are being poured into the ministry we provide for kids. Making the 40 – 50 hours we have each year count, must be a high goal. Children’s ministry isn’t babysitting – simply marking time until the service is over. It must be strategic in training children from the earliest age that church is about God. It’s where we worship him together, it’s where we learn to be more like Him in the way we act, think and live, and it’s where we encourage a love for God’s Word. Then we must help children and families take God home and live out obedient lives for Him. Helping parents read the Bible with their children at home must be a priority. Then we must encourage children to bring their Bible to church so they learn to use it in the worship setting. Helping families make God the center of their lives at home, not just an event in which they participate on Sundays, must be one of our highest priorities.
Safe in an unsafe world; at times it feels impossible. In those moments we remember what Jesus said in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We must instill the hope that Jesus brings in these unstable times!
Harvest Christian Center