United Methodists Love All the Children

Bishop Scott Jones


We love all the children. Let’s take it word by word.
Deep in the heart of United Methodist people is a commitment to care for children. We baptize infants, helping them experience the saving grace of God from the beginning of life. We hold Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools and special children’s celebrations. We have children’s sermons in worship and make a major focus on confirmation classes. In short, we have poured a lot of effort into discipling young people. It is who we are.
Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
Many United Methodists find evangelism to be difficult, but children’s ministry is one of the easiest ways to reach unchurched people and offer them something meaningful. Many families who are outside the church want something good for their children and they believe that only the church can provide it.
Many of our congregations need to do a better job of reaching unchurched people in our communities, and loving children is a great way to build a bridge to our neighbors.
Too many United Methodist congregations think of children’s ministry as “taking care of OUR kids.” Instead, we should be focusing on all of God’s children, reaching out to any child who might develop a connection with God through our ministries. They might be newcomers. They might have a different skin color. Their parents may not speak good English. They may be immigrants. God has put reachable people near each congregation, and we need to figure out how to love all of them.
Loving someone means loving all of them. When I think about excellent ministry with children I talk about three categories. First, I am concerned about the health of children. They need good food resources, good medical care, vaccinations and safety. Second, I am concerned about the education of children. I want our public schools to be the best that they can be. In addition, I want our education work with two- to five-year old’s to be better than it is so children enter first grade ready to read. Improving the literacy of children before the third grade is the best investment to end poverty and reduce crime. Third, I am concerned that all children have a chance to know Christ as Lord and Savior. I want them to learn Bible verses and experience the grace of God in Christ Jesus. So, loving children well can be summarized as health, education and discipleship.
We are already engaged in many wonderful ministries with children. How can we as the Texas Annual Conference improve?