Value of Children and Youth. The Bible commands every Christian to, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8). The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4–7; 11:19) admonishes us to communicate God’s grace to our children. Psalm 78:4 declares, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Jesus affirms this in Luke 18:16, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
As a response to this biblical perspective, the Church of the Nazarene acknowledges that children are important to God and a priority in His kingdom. We believe God directed us to attend to all children—to love, nurture, protect, uphold, guide, and advocate for them. It is God’s plan that we introduce children to the life of salvation and growth in grace. Salvation, holiness, and discipleship are possible and imperative in the lives of children. We recognize that children are not a means to an end, but full participants in the Body of Christ. Children are disciples in training, not disciples in waiting.
Thus, holistic and transformational ministry to children and their families in every local church will be a priority as evidenced by:
- providing effective and empowering ministries to the whole child—physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually;
- articulating Christian positions on current social justice issues that affect children;
- connecting children to the heart of the mission and ministry of the faith community;
- discipling children and training them to disciple others;
- equipping parents to nurture the spiritual formation of their children.
Since the church’s educational institutions (Bible schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries) prepare students for leadership, they play a crucial role in carrying out the vision and mission of communicating the value of children. They join local churches and families in taking responsibility to prepare members of the clergy and laity to raise the next generation of children and youth to be biblically and theologically literate and to meet the known and unforeseen challenges for evangelizing, discipling, and transforming their societies. The Church of the Nazarene envisions an intergenerational faith community where children and youth are loved and valued, where they are ministered to and incorporated into the Church family through a wide variety of means and methods, and where they have opportunities to minister to others in ways consistent with their ages, development, abilities, and spiritual gifts. (2009)