I’m a firm believer that children are the greatest strategy of the Church.
Children are created in God’s image and they are valuable to God—as valuable as any adult. If we look at the heart of Christ, we see the value He placed on children. In the gospels, He talked to His followers about becoming like a child. He placed a child on His knee and ministered to him, despite the ridicule of others.
Children are also a strategic part of ministry. Over the last decade or so, research has shown that the vast majority of people come to faith in Christ as a child. So shouldn’t we invest resources in the arena of children?
Compassion cares for 1.5 million children around the world. It would be easy to just focus on these children. But there are millions of children in need of physical care and the love of Jesus beyond our reach. That’s why through advocacy, we want to multiply our efforts to train and equip others to care for the children we can’t reach in our program.
In the course of our 60-plus years of ministry, we have gained great expertise in holistic child development, child evangelism and child discipleship. We want to pass what we have learned on to churches outside the perimeters of Compassion’s ministry. Through workshops, conferences and seminary courses, we are motivating and equipping churches in Asia, Africa and South America. We help pastors and church leaders gain a vision for children’s ministry, and equip and train them to implement child development in their churches.
We are seeing exciting examples of this around the world. For a number of years, we have been helping house churches in China train people to minister to children. And we have been working with most of the evangelical churches in Mongolia, training pastors and lay workers to catch the vision of God’s heart for children.
There’s nothing more exciting than a church that catches the vision for ministry to children.
But advocating for children isn’t just something we do around the world—we want to be a voice for children in Canada as well. We want to motivate Christians in Canada to care for their own children, children in their churches and children in their communities.
Advocacy really is a call to discipleship, and there are so many ways we can get involved. We can mentor and disciple our own children. We can get involved in children’s ministry in our church. We can get involved in community programs where we live. We can change our attitudes so that when we walk by a child, we view that child as a human being made in the image of God. We can also become a missionary to a child in another part of the world through sponsoring a child with Compassion.
This summer, I’ll be speaking at the Inspire Hope Conference at the Muskoka Bible Centre. I hope to encourage people that they, too, can be an advocate. You don’t have to be a trained children’s worker or a trained pastor or even a parent. We hope that when people go back home, they’ll have a new vision and excitement for the impact ministry to children can have.
At the end of the day, these efforts aren’t about whether Compassion has grown bigger. It’s whether more children have come to Christ. And if we invest in children, the Kingdom of God will grow and flourish.
Barry Slauenwhite is President and CEO of Compassion Canada.