They’re back! School is starting up again which I suppose means summer is drawing to a close. That’s okay, because it means the time to get away on vacation is also coming to an end. You can’t take serious vacation time with the kids in school. The kids are back!
This past Sunday, we had the blessing of the school backpacks at the beginning of each worship celebration. At the first service, there were a fair number who came forward for the blessing. However, at the second service there were a lot more kids of all ages who came up for the blessing. Admittedly, the number of kids was no where near the total that will be at church once Sunday school starts in September. Yet, this Sunday there were enough to make it noisy in the back before the worship started. It was neat!
I like kids in church — big kids/ little kids, old kids/young kids. I’m in total agreement with our Lord who welcomed the children to come to Him. Kids in worship don’t rattle me. I can always talk a little louder. Besides, the way I try to move around in front of the church seems to keep their attention, at least to some degree. Nope, kids in church are a blessing and don’t bother me. Well, over the years, there were three kids that did bother me — a little — MINE. The only kids I really ever took notice of when they were noisy or moving around in the pew during church were my own. I suppose it’s the father in me.
When such activity occurred, Karen would take one of the children (the offending one) out to the narthex, apply some appropriate instructional pressure, and then return back to their seats in church with a child in a much quieter state. Oh, by the way, the other two were always very well behaved and quiet during this time of Mom’s brief absence for two very sound reasons. First, Mom would return more than willing to dispense further instruction if necessary. Second, Dad, who was preaching in front, aimed a frequent, steely gaze in their direction. No, kids, even mine, in church never bothered me. Actually, I think that’s where they belong with their parents. In truth, their absence for the worship experience is what really bothers me.
Unfortunately, far too many of our modern parents with children prefer not to have their children in worship with them. Better to ship them off to the nursery or have Sunday school classes going on at the same time as worship so the kids can have something to do. That’s sad. Worshiping as a family IS something to do with our children — a very good something.
It used to be that parents considered regular worship as showing up to God’s house with the children for services every week. Today, according to polls taken by several Christian polling groups, regular worship is reduced to once a month and that preferably without children. I don’t understand.
For a generation and in a time in our culture where we go to extremes in seeking to keep children safe and secure, stimulated and enriched, this attitude to worship seems a contradiction. The whole idea of treating children like they a little adults to be reasoned with logically or allowing them to completely control the situation like they are in charge just seems wrong. But then, I’m old FASHIONED.
Children are not adults and they aren’t in control because they haven’t earned that right. Children need to be educated and encouraged by the things we teach them and by the things we show them through our own example. As parents, we need to show our children that worshiping as a family is important because it builds relationships — with God and within the family.
As people who worship and are graced — YES, I SAID GRACED — by the presence of children, we need to make such families feel welcomed and not be disturbed, much less annoyed, with a little noise by their worshiping presence. As a pastor, we need to develop a style that is more appealing and relaxed to young families so they feel comfortable in the worship experience. Worship is supposed to be a joy for all, not a pain we must endure.
Teaching children the importance of worship takes our showing them it’s importance to us as parents and adults. Simply, when we come to engage in worship we teach our children it’s important, when we don’t engage, we still teach a lesson, but a totally opposite one. It’s one of the reasons I make it a point to teach confirmation to our youth because it’s a vital part of being a pastor. I want them to know me and feel comfortable around me so they can trust me.
Jesus had to reprimand His disciples when they tried to prevent the children from coming to Him. It was the wrong thing to do. Hence, He told them, “Let the children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Well, I might not go so far as to reprimand parents for not showing their children the importance of worshiping as a family, but I’m not afraid to tell them it’s flat out WRONG. It is wrong!
We welcome whole families, especially children, to the celebration of worship. If you’re not going to church as a family, then I encourage you to find a church you can go to this Sunday and worship our God who wants nothing but the best for us — HIS CHILDREN.
And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder