Children easily appreciate the strength and enjoyment of association; they eagerly form themselves into bands and clubs; they are proud of the badges and symbols which signify the bond which binds them together, and they are loyal to the object for which the band, society or club exists. If children, therefore, are to help in the Church, the first thing to do is to make them familiar with the Church as a society or organisation Divinely appointed for a definite object. They must be told of the marks by which it may be recognised - its forms of worship, its sacraments, its offices, and its services - just as they recognise by certain marks the band or club to which they belong.
The Mission of the Church
Further, they must be taught that this organisation, with its ceremonies and its ministers, exists to promote Christian righteousness in public and private conduct, to influence governments to do justice to the weak, to follow the ways of peace, and to prefer truth to success, and also to influence individuals to be honest and generous, so they they may bear one another's burdens in the spirit of Christ and draw light out of sorrow and suffering. Children must be shown the object of the Church as regards the nation and as regards private people. They will soon enough learn how often it has failed in its object when it has become greedy of honour for itself, and how often it has made mistakes; but they may easily be led to recognise how the nation, under the influence of the Church, has become more considerate of the weak, more just in its dealings with subject races, and more honourable in its conduct, and how there are unknown thousands of men and women who, because of the Church, are gentle and loving in their strength and comforted in their weakness. The tale of the Church's victories is not written in its acquisition of wealth or power, but in the increase of justice, in the greater love which binds people together, and in the growing might of right.
Children Need Outward Signs
Children must, I think, be deiomina-tionalists; they need the help of the outward and visible signs; they like to call themselves by some name, and be associated with all the practices and activities which go with each name. Children must belong to one of the many Christian denominations, but the denominations need not, therefore, be represented as in antagonism one to the other. If it be remembered that the object for which each exists is the increase of righteousness and love, it is obvious that mutual antagonism hinders and cannot forward that object. Intolerance is the Nessus shirt which destroys righteousness. The members of the various organisations must, therefore, be taught to regard themselves as regiments in the same army, bound to keep up the strength and honour of their own regiment, but bound also to co-operate with other regiments in the great fight against all unrighteousness.
The first thing, therefore, is to make children familiar with the Church to which they belong in a way which, as children, they can comprehend. It will then be more possible to show them how they can help in the Church.
Strengthening the Church 1. They can attend its services and obey its officers. The members of a cricket or hockey club recognise this obligation, and thus help the club to win its matches. Children, as members of the Church, owe the same obligacion, and should be called to its performance, if only because by church attendance and obedience to its ministers they are strengthening the Church to win its victories over the source of the trouble of the world. The Church is not like a State department, the efficiency of which depends on the activity of the officials. The Church is an organisation which draws its strength from its members, and every member who takes part in its services increases its strength. Grown people have come too much to look on the Church as a department. They sometimes speak of the clergy as if they were the Church, and they absent themselves from its services and activities because, as they say, they derive no conscious benefit. Children who are regular at the services which are arranged to suit their understanding, and simply obey the directions of the ministers, not only help in the Church, but prepare themselves to be helpers also when they become men and women.
They take a part in that organisation which is slowly breaking down the power of poverty, ignorance, and sin; they subject themselves to authority in faith that the authority will accomplish great things, and they feel themselves below, and not above, the Church.
2. They can carry the symbols and badges of the Church. They can profess their membership, and glory in the name they bear, Pictures are often suggested of the havoc which would be caused in the school if some children called themselves Anglicans, others Baptists, and others by other names. There is no need for such havoc if all have learnt that, by different means, they reach the same object. There must be self-consciousness before there can be self-sacrifice; there must be individuals before there can be Socialists; there must be many folds in one flock, and many churches in one church. Before the members of a church have the necessary self-consciousness they must be able to give themselves a name. The man without a wedding garment who was turned from the feast was speechless. Members of a church must be able to tell what they are, and children will help in the Church if, without being aggressive, they boldly declare the titles and the symbols which represent their church.