I want to address an elephant in my church’s room. By church I don’t simply mean my congregation. I mean the church all over the world. The elephant, it’s known as wee worship. If you aren’t at a Christian church that offers a wee worship/children’s church program feel free to move along. I’m sure I’ve ranted about plenty of other things that will aggravate you. If you attend a church with a program that allows children to attend a separate worship service from their parents, please join this discussion. May we please have a discussion about Children’s Church? I clearly have some things I need to work out in my own head and maybe we can encourage each other.
Let’s start at the beginning. Fourteen years ago when I just dipping my toe in the pool of motherhood and
obviously smarter than somehow getting incredibly wet behind my ears for just having a toe in the pool, I just knew that I would not allow my children to attend Children’s Church. Why? Well, that wasn’t how I was raised and I’m just fine. (I’m not. I’m the one grabbing the kid’s notes at church to try my hardest to follow along with the sermon and totally lost if I don’t.) Anyway, I just knew when Arleigh was 6 weeks old that she was the smartest, most compliant child in the world and she would easily learn how to respectfully sit through a service without needing her own worship service. Ahem. Did I mention that three weeks ago I missed as entire service because I drug my seven-year old kicking and screaming out to the car? Yeah. There’s that. I did have a very compliant ready to please child in Arleigh. I had a very artistic needs to get it out of her system fidgety to the nth degree child in Hanan. Bria is, well, Bria the bull is what we like to call her. Jack just wants his snack, man. They are all different. They all approached a worship service, much like life, differently. Some were easier to get on board with the let’s sing and be respectful plan than others.
We can all quote Proverbs 22:6 until we are blue in the face.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not leave it.”
Okay, I get it. Teach them early. The problem is, all four of my children have different learning styles. Children’s Worship/Children’s Church/Wee Worship…whatever you want to call it works better for some than it does for others. It is not just a break for worn out parents, but sometimes it is and that’s okay.
I have been married to Ray for almost twenty years. I know it’s hard to believe since I’m basically 30. Anyway, over than 20 year period I have been teaching classes. I started with 2 and 3 year olds before I had kids. I thought at the time I couldn’t break them. I see in my old age how wrong I was. Maybe I should have been more concerned about their ability to break me. Anybody can sing Jesus Loves Me and read a Bible story right? I moved on to older kids. I’ve taught ladies’ classes and fourth grade classes. Ray and I were even youth leaders for a brief time. Let me just say God has made it VERY CLEAR that is not my calling. Other than teens, my least favorite thing to do is a children’s worship. Here’s why.
- It’s always on rotation. The kids don’t get to know me and I don’t get to know the kids.
- Two words: crowd control.
- The curriculum tends to be too broad.
- I find the age groupings to be so broad it makes it difficult, you are either over someone’s head or boring someone else.
- I’m usually teaching on Sunday mornings so why do I have to miss the sermon?
- I’ve done my time. I taught while my kids were in the class. Let those parents step up.
Look, if I wanted to, I could make up 1,000 reasons why I don’t always enjoy helping out in Children’s worship. Can’t you?
A few weeks ago, the person in charge came to me right before services and asked if I would step up and teach the 2-3 year old group wee worship. I’m in church so I have to say yes, right? She told me it would be okay there were usually only 2 or 3 kids in there. I most likely let out a very loud audible sigh and asked for the curriculum. The story was the widow and the mite found in Mark 12:42. I walked into the class to find more children than I could count. Seriously our 2-3 quickly went to at least 12 before I could blink. I asked someone to get Arleigh to help me. Another adult who also taught during Sunday school stayed to help. We went over the story, counting the blocks of the rich and making lots of noise. We counted the 2 blocks the widow gave and they didn’t make much noise. The kids sat at a table and counted with me. We sort of sang songs. They may have sort of learned a lesson. Here’s the thing. Most of the kids in that room hadn’t made it for Sunday school. This is the only one on one Sunday school lesson they were going to get. It might be the only time during the week that some of them would be around other kids. It struck me how ready they were to soak up the story.
I think I get grumpy. I wonder why I have to serve parents that don’t serve themselves. Ugly, isn’t it? I realized that morning that it wasn’t about serving the parents. It was about serving the kids and more importantly serving God. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with Arleigh about how she served them. We talked about the widow’s 2 mites and how she didn’t know that they were put in the particular kind of container described in the lesson. We both learned more than a little that morning. We may have missed a sermon but we learned so much.
So, let me take a step up on the soap box. No. I don’t want to miss a sermon every week and an opportunity to worship. More than that, something that I try to impress on all four of my kids is that we shouldn’t miss an opportunity to serve either. Until that moment several weeks ago, that was something I was missing. I don’t want others to miss the opportunity either. Sometimes you learn a whole lot more when you step out of your comfort zone. Almost every week I see the leader of our children’s worship program scrambling to find someone to fill in. It makes me sad. Here’s the deal.
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids that age. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids. It doesn’t matter if your kids are tiny or grown.
- The kids don’t care if you don’t have a singing voice. Guess what! I’m pretty sure God doesn’t either.
- The kids don’t care if you think you aren’t a good teacher. They just want someone to engage them for an hour.
- The kids don’t care if you already did your time because your kids are older. The experience you can share is priceless.
- This is the only time these kids may have to learn about the love of Jesus. Why not be the one to tell them?
- When given the choice, shouldn’t we choose service? There is not better way “To do church.”
- Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone.
- When I teach, I learn more.
There are lots of reasons. To have the number of ladies in a church and always see Vanessa begging for teachers is shameful. Really it is. It shouldn’t have to be the same people doing it all the time. I guess I’m saying, sign us up. All the Stiffs. We’re ready to do church in whatever way is necessary. Are you?