Parents and Children Together in Worship
Here at Sugar Hill United Methodist Church we believe and practice that parents are the spiritual leaders of their children and our task is to enable you to be effective in this calling and duty. We believe that families should worship together. This has been the pattern of the church for 2000 years. This did not begin to change until the last decade. The early church, the pioneer church and new church movements worldwide practice this. So starting in August, we will invite and encourage parents to include their children and youth with them in worship. We will still offer Children's Church, but we will encourage you to bring your children with you when they are ready. I will even provide them an activity sheet to help them follow along with my message called "Little People - Big God!" Our culture causes families to be fractured and divided by age groups. Churches should unite and bond families not separate them assuming we are incompatible for cross-generational worship. What makes us so different or better informed than the church’s practice for over 2000 years of keeping families together? And how can we expect Young Adults to choose corporate worship with a body of Christ filled with people of all ages if we separate them out until age 18? Maybe this is why the church landscape today in America is full of churches by age-groupings. This does not look like or feel like the unified church of believers that Jesus called “his body gathered on earth.” We learn across generations and this inspiration flows from older to younger and vice-versa.
I envision us being known as a church that graciously and genuinely receives children. We already do this in so many ways. So let’s do so in worship as well. Who is the greatest in our church? Not the senior pastor, not the worship leader or the chair of the Church Council – the Bible tells us the greatest among us are the ones who welcome and receive children! (Luke 9: 46-48) Today’s Millennial Generation (those born 1984 – 1993) are telling us this is what they will do, bring their children into worship with them. They are very nuclear and want more time together as a family unit.
The church of Jesus Christ is an assembly of the child-like. We need to observe the children among us to be reminded of authentic faith: open, curious, excited about discovery and trusting. Most important is this fourth quality: trusting God like a little child. When Austin was about four years old he had to have a mole cut off of one of his toes. The doctor thought it could become cancerous later in his life so we agreed to let him cut it off our little boy’s toe. We drove to the Emory Clinic for the procedure where Austin (and his parents) were very apprehensive. I thought he would want his mom to hold him during the procedure. Instead, he said he wanted his daddy to hold him so I placed him in my lap and immediately he became completely relaxed, calm and quiet. He never even flinched as they froze his toe and shaved off that mole!
This is how we are created to survive, thrive and grow in this life. When we are faced with change, obstacles, bad news and difficult circumstances, we can follow the example of children and place ourselves in the very lap of our Heavenly Father. With a childlike faith, we can be open, curious, excited about our future and most of all, full of trust, because we know who holds us and that God’s love will never fail us.