"Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.'" Mark 10:13-15, NKJV
I am thankful to be part of a church that puts so much emphasis on children and young people! Recently, we made a major change in how we do things, here at IBC. Knowing that the young families in our church are more faithful to the Awana Ministry that takes place on Wednesday evenings than any of our other programmed offerings, we switched our schedule to accommodate.
Beginning last month, we moved our regularly scheduled Prayer Meeting/Bible Study/Choir Practices from Wednesday night to Sunday night, so we could make Wednesday nights more focused on the entire family. To do so, we began offering a light evening meal at 5:30 pm, so those coming from work or school would not have to go home, before coming to church events. So Wednesday evenings now begin with the fellowship meals, followed by the programs beginning at 6:30. Those programs include: Awana (for children from bed babies through 5th grade); Youth (for those in 6th grade though 12th); Awana Moms (for those women bringing children); The Handyman's How-To Class (for those wishing to learn skills that are helpful in every household); and The Pastor's Bible Study Class (which expounds on the scriptures presented in the previous Sunday sermons).
The results have been fantastic! From the very first Wednesday, we have had over 90 young people (18 and under), plus the adult leaders, those serving the meals and those just coming to the classes. In essence, we have gone from around 40 on Wednesday evenings, to over 150 in attendance. Our parking lot is now full on Wednesday nights! Sunday evenings we are continuing the Wee Folks, Mission Friends and Youth meetings we've always had, plus the Choir Practices, Prayer Meeting and Bible Studies we formerly held on Wednesdays.
It has been joyous to see how the regular IBC folks have accommodated these changes, and how encouraged all of us have been at seeing God continue building on the new families with children and young people that were already attaching themselves to our ministries. No, it has not been seamless. No, it has not been without some glitches! Yes, we are on a learning curve as we try to adapt to new schedules and rearrange things to make them more accommodating to the lives of our moms, dads, children and young people.
Nevertheless, it seems everyone has been surprised at how these changes have encouraged more people to become active in our Midweek programs. Jesus said that we are never to rebuff or rebuke those bringing little children to Him. So, in whatever way we can, we are willing to go the extra mile, deal with some inconveniences and remake our schedules to make the ministry of Jesus more accessible to those willing to let their little children come to Him!
Blessings & Peace, Brother Dan