Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kids Welcome?

Here is the last ministerial message that I submitted to our local paper. It is the third in a series. Please feel free to comment on anything you read here!

To read the 1st letter click here.
To read the 2nd letter click here.

This last September I told you about my experiences of being a visitor at church for most of this past summer. My family and I were away from our church family for about 11 weeks if you remember. Since attending a worship gathering on Sunday was, and is, a priority for us, we decided to make sure we were in a church every week, no matter where we where. “We went to 8 different churches all over western Canada. Some of the church families we visited were Presbyterian, Evangelical Free, Baptist, Anglican, as well as, several other well known faith traditions.“ (taken from my first article on this subject). If you would like to read the ones you missed, please check our blog at lpchome.blogspot.com as they are posted there. The first lesson I learned in being a visitor at church was to remember what it was like to be new. In my second article I said we need to be friendly! What a difference we can make in a new person’s life if we just went out of our way with people who were visiting your church to warmly welcome them there and help point the way for them. Another thing I learned as a visitor is that most churches do not enjoy kids being there. Could this be true, that churches make things tough on kids? I am sad to say that was our experience. Though there were a few exceptions most churches had NO children or even youth in the main morning service. Mainly we found that churches were filled with older people. I am so thankful for a generation whose sacrifice and commitment to the Lord has built many of these church buildings. It was this generation that still keeps these churches going from week to week. We owe them great thanks for the years of service and sacrifice they have made to the Lord. How faithful they have been. Yet with that great sacrifice and commitment to the church, the next generation (s) have not joined them. Why? Why was it that week after week, my family would be the only people with kids present? This was not a good thing, because kids make noise and move around and drop books and poke each other. I remember one church we went to, with one other family that has young kids, that I had to finally leave with the all the youngest because we could not bear the looks of distain we were getting. People were not happy to have us there because the kids were being… well…. kids! I was so glad when church was over so we could leave. Is this the way church is for most people today? I thought the gospel was for rich and poor, old and young? Yet the pressure we felt to make sure our kids made not a peep was very high and stressful and who needs more stress? Especially at a place where we have come to worship God together? Maybe God does not like kids. Maybe He wants his church services to be totally quiet and so orderly that only certain people feel at home? I know that this is NOT right. St. Matthew tells of a time when Jesus’ disciples were trying to keep kids away from him. Jesus, to them, was much too busy and important for kids. Mark adds “14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)

If Jesus wants the kids around, why are we, HIS church, acting like the disciples and hindering them from coming? Of all the places that kids should be MOST welcome, it is at church. After all, it is JESUS’ church anyways, not ours. When kids are no longer coming to church, we better be asking ourselves some strong questions about what we are all about as Christ’s body. KIDS were welcome with Jesus and they need to be welcome in His church. Messy, noisy and all. They have something to teach us about God for His kingdom belongs to them. I don’t know about you, but for me, I want to learn what that is?

Comments? PLEASE feel free!

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