Patsy Jeffcoat and Crosscreek Children
What does a child feel like when he/she is valued by a church family?
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”
― Matthew 19:14, Luke 18:16, Mark 10:14
When Wes and I pushed our not yet 2-year-old toddler’s stroller down Crosscreek Trail for our first visit to Crosscreek Baptist Church, how the church loved and valued children was naturally high on our list of questions. Suffice it to say that 40 years later, how this church values the worth and gifts of our 2 children and 4 grandchildren continues to reaffirm our commitment to this community of faith.
Through the years, I have been asked by parents of children and youth if we are tempted to leave for a larger church with more programs for children. To be completely transparent, I have at times felt some envy of the resources some churches have that we don’t. However, I keep coming back to this: Our children are known, loved, and encouraged by this church in ways that are not as likely in a large group setting. I believe this leads to deep and meaningful relationships that are critical to their growth and to the mission of the church. Whether it be Godly Play, Sunday School, Children’s Moment during worship, reading scripture in worship, singing or playing instruments, working with A/V, participating in mission activities, Passport Camps, and much more, our children are valued participants in our faith journey.
I recently asked a few of our younger Crosscreek kids to tell me their favorite thing about Crosscreek and to draw a picture of it:
How more Baptist can “Food” be? The picture this 9-year-old drew is of many people gathered around the table in fellowship. The food is not the focus. The love around the table is. Other kids mentioned prayer (age 10) and sermons (age 10), and the youngest ones (ages 6 and 7) said, “everybody in the church.”
Parents and Children’s Ministry workers want our children to feel safe and loved and to help them understand that Jesus loves them and everyone else. We want them to look forward to coming to church and learning about Jesus and what it means to follow Him. Hearing the children say they reciprocate that love for “everybody in the church” speaks volumes. From these responses we see that as they grow and learn, they focus more on their relationship with Christ, which is what God hopes for each of us.
Dixie asked our youth at a recent gathering the same question: What is your favorite thing about Crosscreek? Our youth said, “Crosscreek is welcoming to people”, “I like you guys as people”, “we’re not claiming to be better than any other church, but we are”, “donuts”, “the teachers”, “we’re chill and not super strict about stuff.”, and “the sermons are cool”. I love every one of these responses that say much about who they are and who Crosscreek is for them. Our youth embody authentic community and make Crosscreek and the world better by sharing their gifts in this space and beyond.
With all that said, we can always do better. If you know a child or family with children that needs Crosscreek, invite them. If you love children and have the desire to invest in the lives of our precious kids, volunteer. If you have ideas or resources to offer in support of our children and youth, share them. We can do better. I can do better.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” I am grateful that Crosscreek values the worth and gifts of children. They are not only our future, but our present. Thanks be to God.