It grieves me whenever I hear children are the "next" generation. It is not that I do not think children need to be taught and to learn. It is the regulation to the classroom that is troublesome. In a culture where studies come first, graduation second and then time to make an impact. Children become adults typically holding beliefs that they are not ready (or good enough) to make a significant difference in the world, often resulting in imposter syndrome.
What grieves me more is seeing this played out in the church. I recently heard this in a service, "Children are the next generation of the church. Let's pray for them as they learn about...." and whatever Bible story they learned that night. If children are seen as second class believers, it establishes earthly parameters of how the Spirit can use them.
From what I have read and continued to notice in Scripture is quite the opposite. Earthly age is not a limitation nor will it ever be. Look at all of these Biblical stories of children being used in pretty phenomenal ways because of their faith.
Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were between the ages of 8-10 when King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Daniel stood up to the King as a preteen. They refused to eat what the King had fed them. His three friends were likely thrown into the furnace around the age of 16. On the other end of the spectrum, Daniel was likely in his 80s, when he was thrown into the lion's den.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth to Jesus between the ages of 12-14. Teenage pregnancy.
Jesus leaped for the joy in the womb when hearing Elizabeth's name. John the Baptist, in the womb of Elizabeth, leaped for joy hearing Mary's name. Age: Pre-birth.
A young slave girl told her master's wife that there was a prophet in Israel who can heal her master, Naaman of leprosy.
The great story of David as a young teenager bringing down Goliath.
Josiah became a righteous king of Judah at 8 years old and continued to reign for more than 70 years.
Samuel ministered before the Lord at a young age and began to have visions.
Matthew 19:13-15 reads,
"Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there."
These verses are a reminder to me to pay attention when I notice the Lord is using a minor (in age) to minister to others or unto Him. It is not a "cute" moment to capture with a photograph. It is a holy moment to be honored as a fellow believer in Jesus.