Don’t forget the cookies

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Six-year-old Renton learns about God’s love…and likes the cookies, too.

by Erin Gilger-Webb – 

What attracts a young child to The Salvation Army? Is it the brass bands? The uniforms? Or is it something much simpler than that…

After speaking with Renton, I discovered how misled we may be about what is really important: the kids. Renton is 6-years-old. Although he does not live in a “religious” household, the answers to the questions I asked him show that his life has been impacted by the love of God.

Renton honestly admits that he does not like going to church, but his heart tells me otherwise. His only exposure to church is when his grandma drags him along to the special events (Easter, Halloween, Christmas). He also attends The Salvation Army’s after-school program. I asked him if he believes that learning about Jesus is good, and he answered “yes,” and he told me the most important thing he learned about Jesus was that “He died on the cross.”

When asked what was the best thing the Army has done for his family, he answered, “Once we got a present at Christmas.” What he likes about The Salvation Army: “the friends that I makes there” and “playing ball with them.” As a mother, I understand that you want your children to make Christian friends, and I see the importance of bringing more kids into the church, so that they can love and support each other. When asked what he likes about his corps, he had a simple answer; “They give us cookies after church.”

Now, this was not the answer I was looking for, but then I considered the source…Renton is only 6…and this questionnaire was about him, and what impact we have made on him. I wish he had said, “the old ladies give me lots of hugs, I just feel special there, I feel loved, the world seems much simpler with God in my life”…but this is not what he learned.

How can we reach the 6-year-old in our corps today? Make sure that your interactions with these children are memorable. Make sure you give lots of hugs; make them laugh; let them know they are special. Sometimes we are so involved with our own experience that we forget about the impact we can have on these precious children. I’d like to change his answers, and I hope that we do.

Oh yeah, and please don’t forget the cookies.

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Harry Williams admitted to Order of the Founder

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