This story, written by Mary Wynja, was originally published in New Horizons in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in May 1988, when Mary’s husband, Richard Wynja, was pastor of Immanuel OPC in Thornton, Colorado. The story is updated to reflect that the children in the story are now adults.
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As a minister's wife I frequently meet people who are looking for a home church. Two of the first things parents ask when they visit a church is, "What kinds of activities do you have for teen agers and children?" and "Would our children be happy in this church?"
Many times parents are not even interested in a church like ours because we are small. But in observing Christian families and church youth programs, I am realizing that small churches have so much to offer children and the Christian family.
My children, five in all, were not yet raised at the time I wrote the story, so I could hardly claim to have been an authority on child rearing. I did know what the Scriptures said about children and how they are an important part of the kingdom of God. We must give children the position that God gives them in his word. And I've seen our congregation minister to our children in a proper, biblical way.
On Sunday morning my children were happy to get ready for church. They loved the people in our congregation. Through the years they had been treated really special. When a congregation is small, each adult and each child are considered to be important. How grateful we were for the loving concern that was been shown to our children. We were thankful for the Christian examples of faithfulness, generosity, service and love for God's word that our children saw in the church. We appreciated so much the prayers of the church for us and our children.
The needs of covenant children are similar to those of other church members. Besides the needs of being loved, being taught in godly ways by example, and being prayed for, there is a need for learning to serve. One of the best places for a child to learn Christian service is in a small church. When staff is needed for vacation Bible school or Bible Club, it is a wonderful opportunity for covenant children to be put to work! Often my son stood at the door and handed out bulletins Sunday mornings. Our children were also involved in the music of the church. You can hardly imagine how a little compliment encouraged our children. (In a small church they didn't even mind the sour notes.) One week our children were out mowing the field with a friend of our church. They really had fun, and I was so happy to have seen them learning that service to God can be a happy experience. Our church work days were great for our children! They learned that even jobs like picking up trash, sweeping walks, and washing walls were important ways to serve the Lord.
The biggest need that children (as well as adults) have is to know and hear God’s word. We were thankful for the teachers who faithfully worked with our children and encouraged them in spiritual things. Adults held our babies, sat with our children in church, and taught them a reverence for God's word.
We realize how important the church has been and continues to be to our children. Thankfully we watched them maturing in the church. We can truly say that our years in a small church have been blessed years. With gratitude to our covenant God we were also thankful for their teenage years.