Whether it’s email support through the website, or questions asked at conferences, a good percentage of people always have questions that focus on discipline and classroom behavior. In fact, at most every Children’s Ministry or Christian Education conference, convention, or seminar you will find workshops focusing on discipline. Common questions often associated with poor behavior include: Are the Children’s Pastors or teachers prepared? Are there medical factors to consider? Is the curriculum just too boring compared to the multitude of input these kids receive during the rest of the week? Is there a lack of discipline at home?Though there is evidence to prove these factors do contribute to poor behavior, I believe there is a fundamental weakness that plays a much greater roll. Let’s consider this: the lack of respect for God’s House that stems from the lack of relationship with God. Follow me on this thought for a moment. In order to truly love, appreciate, and respect God’s House and all that takes place there, a child must first have a love relationship with God. This has to be more than the usual going through the motions of bowing a head during prayer, or singing action and praise songs, or even achieving a perfect score in the Bible quiz competitions.
Let’s consider Jacob for a moment. Do you remember when Jacob had the dream of the stairway reaching into Heaven? Okay, so you may not be that old, but surely you remember reading or hearing the account. When it was over, Jacob named the place Bethel. Bethel means ‘House of God.’ Something changed in Jacob’s life. He was beginning his deep relationship with God. But let’s skip a few years and focus on the record of Genesis 35. God spoke to Jacob and told him to return to Bethel. That was where God had appeared to him. You’ll notice in verse 7 that Jacob returned, built an altar, and then called the place El Bethel. El Bethel means ‘God of the House of God.’ Do you see the difference? Jacob wasn’t just returning to the House of God, he was returning to the God of the House of God.
So, what does this have to do with discipline? We run our attendance campaigns. We offer the best in Sunday School and Children’s Church programs. We hand out prizes and gifts. We use state of the art equipment. We do this and more to get kids to come to the House of God. But many times, that’s as far as they get. They only come to the house! Week after week they enjoy the fun, the games, the fellowship of friends, but do they ever really meet with the God of the House of God while they are there? If you want to see a change in their hearts, lives, and behavior, then lead them into His presence! As they begin and then develop this wonderful relationship with God Himself, it will not be so difficult to keep their attention focused on spiritual truths. Why? Because that will be what their hearts are longing for. They will have a desire to learn more about God and draw closer to Him–a desire that is birthed out of the love relationship they have with Him. Subsequently, you will see the results of this relationship show through their actions and attitudes in God’s house.
© by Rev. Gary R. Linn
Children’s Ministry Today