If you want to be a great church, put the children and the vulnerable in the center next to Jesus. He took a small child and set him in the middle next to himself. “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcome me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
We might be good at singing about the greatness of God and inviting Jesus to be central. We might preach this at great length. But, if we do not go a step further and bring the most vulnerable to the best seats at the table, we dishonor God.
Last week we shared our Downtown Campus service with Central United Church. While the guest band from Toronto put on a concert, I saw a little girl dancing freely around the aisles. Then in our Ford City Campus, I saw Paul. He lives in a supportive home environment because of his disabilities. When he walked in late and bounced to the front, he gave a giant smile and thumbs up to Suzie on the worship team. He doesn’t know much about protocol, but he is so welcome in our midst. When people use cuss words in appreciation for a great sermon, I see their heart and once again am aware that Jesus is welcome here. As Charlie Robinson says, ‘it’s the highest praise from the lowest point.’
Church should not be intimidating for newbies and the ones who don’t know any better. We need to let the kids feel like they own the place. If all goes well, they will inherit it.