The last session is always a difficult session I think for a speaker. They have to bring together to variety and busyness of the weekend into one message to inspire and encourage 1500 people. No small challenge then! But Matt was brilliant.
He started by showing a home video clip of his son on a rollercoaster. He went on to say that Ronan Keating was correct when he sang that Life is a Rollercoaster. Life is a rollercoaster for children.
How does society view children?
In one sense they have never had it so good: money, activities, technology etc. But on the other hand it is all wrong. He linked to ‘Toxic Childhood’ by Sue Palmer and how things are going downhill.
Is society a paranoid schizophrenic?
Children are vulnerable and need protection, e.g. CRB, risk assessments, which are good things but go to far in banning conker and snow fights etc., and a media that panics us in giving them no freedom of going down the park etc.
Children are dangerous and we need protecting. The media is set on demonising young people, a recent MORI poll shows that 41% of articles about children are highly negative. It is so often out of the overflow of brokenness comes the behaviour. Children have a story; they are the product of our society.
Children are easily influenced and need to be nurtured. Who has responsibility for this – is it parents, schools? The children orientated market, including pester power is worth £30 billion. No wonder brands and marketing is key. The average child in the UK watches 20,000-40,000 adverts.
Children are independent and should be free. They always push the boundaries, e.g. bedtimes. Could it be that our society has put the boundary too far – they eat too many sweets, they don’t do enough activity, they watch TV in their own room, they don’t sleep enough, they don’t talk with their parents.
Proverbs 22:6 forces us to ask is this the way a child should go. We need to care more than just salvation, e.g. Acts 10:36, Ephesians 6:2 talk about ‘shalom’, a wholeness and healing of life. John 10:10 very famously talks about this life – not just pie in the sky but cake as you wait! With that understanding John 14:27 becomes more powerful – only Jesus can bring the healing needed.
We see Jesus grow in wholeness as a child:
Luke 2:40 includes physically, spiritually, wisdom, emotionally, relationally
Luke 2:52 includes emotionally, mentally, physically, relationally.
Breaking down the barriers
We are called to take a stand and make a difference. But we must not view this as the social gospel – there is only 1 gospel and that covers everything. Christians have traditionally led social action, e.g. Sunday schools, the Children’s society, Barnados, etc. Will we have that same passion, commitment and courage. Showing the young people the gospel but also possibly helping them brush their teeth. Be changers.
The call hasn’t changed – the question is who will go. Pray that we will say “me Lord”.
What a great conclusion to a helpful conference – just need to make sure the stuff from it isn’t forgotten but gets registered, reviewed and discussed.