The health of a church is revealed by the presence of children. Sure, there are other factors, faithfulness to orthodox teaching being one, but I've seen lots of churches that are orthodox (the word means "to cut straight") that are sick unto death. They teach the truth, but live a lie. In Jesus' day, women and children were second-class at best, expendable commodities relegated to the background of life. Jesus turned all that on its head, honoring women and encouraging the children to come to him. He even said that anyone who caused a child to stumble would be better off in the day of judgment to have a millstone hung around his neck and be tossed into the sea.
This evening was the first night of Park church's Spring Fling, our version of Vacation Bible School. We started holding this in the springtime some years ago because it was getting hard to recruit leadership in the summertime, and the kids were busy with summer sports leagues. It was a good move that has proven to have been the right decision.
Last fall, we were able to hire Meagan Marsh as our children's director, another wise move. Under her leadership our after school program became "the Wrap," a before and after school ministry that has proven valuable to the community and an additional pathway to Christ for the families that make use of it. This year's Spring Fling is eloquent testimony to the impact Meagan and her ministry is having on our community. Over the past few years, the first night of Spring Fling has averaged about fifty kids, increasing nightly till we hit about eighty or ninety on Friday night. Tonight we began with more than eighty kids. If the pattern holds, we'll have over a hundred by Friday. Numbers aren't the whole story, but each one of those kids is someone God loves, and someone for whom Christ died.
On top of it all, so much of our ministry to these kids is led by our teenagers. This year for the first time, there were no adults leading the singing; it's all handled by our teenagers, whom we've been grooming for leadership. Our kids are not only our future; they are our present, and are stepping up to the plate. To see what has amounted to my life's work thriving is a blessing for which I thank God almost every day.