A Biblical Framework

This is a document that came out of a Viva Network conference.  We use this in the Children at Risk School to get an understanding of God’s Heart for children at risk.

1.  God creates every unique person as a child with dignity.

We all begin life as children, created in the image of God. Children are born fully human, with identity and purpose. The journey of childhood is part of God’s plan. All people reflect God’s image through living in loving community with him and one another. Children most fully express their God-given dignity in glorifying Him.

God intends that no one prevent a child’s life from fulfilling His purpose. Respecting the image of God in every child demands a Christ-like response to nurture them throughout childhood.

Some biblical references:

Genesis 1:26-31; 2:18-25 (creation)

Exodus 22

Psalm 8

Psalm 139

Ecclesiastes 11:9

Jeremiah 29

Matthew 18:1-10 (“millstone,” welcoming children)

Matthew 21:15-16

James 1:27

2.  Children need parental love in a broken world.

God’s design is for each child to be born, vulnerable and dependent, to loving parents within the covenant of marriage. God’s desire is for each child to grow in this secure, caring environment. In a fallen world, people and relationships can be damaged. When parents struggle to fulfil their intended role, others must provide dedicated care for them and their children.

God intends for all children to be raised by at least one loving, committed adult.

Some biblical references:

Psalm 68:5 (Father to the fatherless)

Psalm 127:4

Proverbs 17:6; 22:6

Hosea 11:1-8 (Ephraim)

Zephaniah 3:14

Matthew 1; Luke 2 (Nativity story)

Ephesians 6:1-4

Colossians. 3:20

3.  God gives children as a gift to welcome and nurture.

It is a privilege to join with children in celebrating their uniqueness, embracing childhood as formative for the whole person. Family, friends, church and the local community are responsible for creating an environment that promotes children’s well-being.

God intends for children to thrive in stable and loving relationships.

Some biblical references:

Genesis 21:17-20; 30:17-20

1 Samuel 2

Psalm 127-128

Proverbs 22:6

Hosea 11:1-4

Zechariah 6:1-9

Matthew 18:1-14

Luke 1:47-56, 67-79; 2:52

Ephesians 4:32; 5:1,2

1 Thessalonians. 2:7-12

1 Timothy 4:12

4.  Society has a God-given responsibility for the well-being of children and families.

All children and families live in society and are dependent on institutions for healthcare, shelter, access to social services, safe drinking water, information and safety. The church must collaborate with these institutions for the common good, and if they fail, the church must speak and act with and on behalf of the vulnerable.

God intends children to flourish in a just society.

Some biblical references:

Deuteronomy 6; 10:18

1 Samuel. 8:1-22

Psalm 89:14

Proverbs 28:5

Isaiah 10:1-3 (curse for unjust)

Isaiah 28:17; 58

Lamentations 2:19

Amos

Micah 6:8

Matthew 5-7

Matthew 25 (goats and sheep)

Romans 13:1-7

James 1:27

5.  Children are a promise of hope for every generation.

Each generation has a unique contribution in God’s purposes for human history. Children have been shaped by the history of their community, are living fully in the present moment, and will reshape their community for the future.

God intends that each generation will extend faith and fullness of life to the next. God intends that this generation grasp the centrality of children to his purposes for our time.

Some biblical references:

Genesis 15:5; 16:10 (Isaac, Ishmael)

Genesis 25:19-24 (Jacob and Esau)

Genesis 48:15-49:28 (Jacob’s blessings and curses)

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (teaching children)

2 Kings 22:1-2 (Josiah)

Esther 4:14

Psalm 2:8

Psalm 90:1 (“shelter to every generation”)

Psalm 127:3

Matthew 1 (genealogies)

Matthew 9:15-17; Luke 5:38 (“new wine”)

Hebrew 13:7 (“Alpha and Omega”)

6.  God welcomes children fully into the family of faith.

Children are essential to the life and ministry of the church, bringing spiritual gifts and abilities and fulfilling definite roles. The church needs to be a place where children may dynamically connect with God and engage in meaningful participation; discipled, equipped and empowered for life and ministry. As members of the family of God, children are to be cared for as sons and daughters and are part of the admonition to love and serve one another.

God intends for churches to provide children with opportunities to know him and fulfil their calling in the body of Christ.

Some biblical references:

2 Kings 22:1-2 (Josiah)

Psalm 8:2

Matthew 5:1-19 (“Bless them that persecute you”; Beatitudes)

Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48 (Jesus welcoming a little child)

Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17

Matthew 21:12-16;

Luke 2:41-50 (Jesus in temple, knowing Father’s work)

Romans 12:4-16 (one another, body of Christ)

Romans 15:7 (welcome one another)

Ephesians 4:32; 5:21 (be kind; submit to one another)

7.  Children are essential to the mission of God.

God desires every child in every generation across the world to know Him and make Him known. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus calls the whole Church to reconcile relationships: with God, with family, with community and with society.

God intends that His Church be a witness in every community of His transforming power, so that His purpose for every child can be accomplished.

Some biblical references:

Genesis 12:2-4 (Abrahamic Covenant)

Isaiah 6:8 (“Whom shall I send?”)

Isaiah 61:1-4

Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 10:25-37 (Great Commandment)

Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18, 20; Luke 4:16-20; John 20:21 (Great Commission passages)

John 3:16

Romans 12:4-5 (“We are one body.”)

2 Corinthians 5: (“ministry of reconciliation”)

Revelation (whole creation waits in anticipation)

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