Where Are The Children?

Warren F. Kenney

  In the mid 90s, Gene and Val Johnson wrote a sobering song by the above title. “I went to church again today, looked around at the fine array, but not many little children did I see. They must be taught from the start, they must have Jesus in their hearts. Oh, where are the children? Where are the children?”  

  I thought of those words during our most recent gospel meeting.  Our Bible classes are usually attended by about 50 children.  During the gospel meeting, only two of those children were brought to every service.  Martinsburg is not unique in this.  It seems to be a trend.  A trend I (and others) find frightening, disheartening, and sad.  What does the future of the church look like when even those in leadership roles keep their children at home to do homework or so they can get to bed on time?  The second verse of the aforementioned song asks some sobering questions: “When at last we’ve run our race, who’ll be there to take our place? Will the house of worship fade away? ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘It Won’t Be Long;’ when we’re gone, who’ll sing those songs? Oh, where are the children? Cry for the children!” 

  The Bible teaches that we are to seek the kingdom of heaven above everything else (Matt. 6:33).  We claim to be people “of the Book,” but do we just give lip service to that command?  Are our children going to grow to adulthood practicing such a priority?  If so, where are they going to learn it?  Will they learn it from parents who allow them to put lesser things ahead of the kingdom?  Will they learn it from parents who speak to them about the importance of faithfulness only to turn right around and teach them that it is more important to get to bed on time than it is to attend a meeting where God is worshiped and His word proclaimed?

  I fully understand how difficult it is to bring children to worship.  I also understand how very important it is to instill the importance of faithfulness in them from the very beginning of their lives.  I think back to some of the great preachers of the 40s and 50s.  When their names come up, I can say that I heard them preach.  I can say that because I was raised in a home where worship was a priority.  Guess what!  I got my homework done, and I did not get to bed on time.  Thank God, my dad and mother did not teach us that the church is primary in importance orally and teach just the opposite in practice.

  The final verse of that song has these words: “Not so many years have passed, but the changes they’ve been vast; this world grows more wicked every day. When we get to heaven and we look around, will our children there be found? Oh, where are the children? Pray for the children!”

  Let me sound this warning to those who are not making sure that their children are in every worship assembly possible.  If you live long enough, you will regret what you are doing.  If you are serious about going to heaven and if you want your children there with you, you had better be in worship and have them with you.  When they face the temptation to become unfaithful — and they will face it — what will help them most: (1) To look back to a childhood where they were not taught that the kingdom must come first, or (2) To look back on a childhood where mom and dad taught them how very important it is to seek first the kingdom even though it involved personal sacrifices? -90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25403. 304-263-9249. wfkenney@adelphia.net

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