Robbie Castleman** writes: “There’s a big difference between worship B.C. and worship A.D. – worship ‘before children’ and worship ‘after diapers’! I have heard more than a few parents confess, ‘I used to get more out of [worship] before I had kids.”
Worship is different after kids. It’s true for the rest of life. Why do we expect worship to be any different?
Unfortunately, there are no teachers or coaches to hand worship off to. Worship is best taught with parents. As Laura Beth reminds us, parents are a child’s greatest religious teachers. And children learn best by doing. How will they learn about ritual, meaning-making, showing up when it counts, singing, and community if they have no experience of it? Step by step, our children learn how to worship. We practice and practice and practice.
For parents, it is work. It can be rewarding, for sure. But it takes effort. We have to begin by preparing our own hearts for the experience. We have to remember why it’s important. Are we coming with eager hearts or going through the motions?
Tool #1: Sundays Start Saturday (or maybe even Monday)
Surprised people behave badly. It’s true. And humans aren’t great with transitioning from one thing to the next. So give your children reminders on Saturday (or earlier) that you are heading to Beacon on Sunday. Tell them what the theme is. Or who’s playing the music. Ask them what they think the chalkboard question will be.
Make Sunday a special day. Cake is cake, but kids know there is something special about a birthday cake. Sunday is a day like any other. How do you make it special?
Begin Sunday with a song. Jamaine’s parents began every Sunday morning with the gospel group, The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Jamaine and her siblings would hear the first notes and know it was a Sunday. They rolled their eyes then, but they laugh now at the memory. So, pick your Sunday song and blast it!
Wear your most YOU clothes. Every Coming of Age Sunday, 9th graders asked me what they should wear to their service. My response? Whatever makes you feel most authentically YOU. Ask your kids what clothes or outfit makes them feel most like themselves. They get to wear those clothes on Sunday. Some kids love dressing up fancy. Others will wear a costume. Some their favorite t-shirt or sparkliest shoes. Others all black. Go for it! I know that there will be some who push that limit. You can deal.
Keep it simple. The world’s already complicated enough. So is parenting. Keep Sunday simple. Don’t overdo breakfast. Just the basics. Whatever they are for you.
What’s important for this Sunday, November 18th?
Our senior high youth leaders have created our worship services on November 18th. They’ll share their thoughts on what blessings and burdens have been passed onto them from their ancestors. It’s a powerful experience for our children and middle school youth to see the “big kids” create worship. To this day, I can tell you some of the messages of the big kids in my congregation growing up.
When your kids ask you why you have to go to service? Tell them that we value showing up for people, and today we are showing up for the teenagers. Remind your children that when they are big kids, people will show up for them. Tell them a story about who showed up for you!
After the service, ask your children: If you had three minutes to share your thoughts with the congregation, what would you say? See how they respond. Then, tell them what YOU would say.
**I don’t recommend buying her book as it’s coming from a specifically Christian context.
Upcoming Dates to Remember:
Saturday, December 1, 4 pm: Hanging of the Greens Service followed by community meal
Sunday, December 9, 9:30 am/11 am: 5th Grade Right of Passage
Sunday, December 16: Junior Youth Group Snowflake BBQ
Sunday, January 13, 9:30 am/11 am: Family Breakfast
Sunday, January 20, 9:30 am/11 am: SpiritLab returns
Sunday, February 24th through Sunday, April 7th: Spring Series of Small Groups
Saturday, April 27th evening: Passover Seder
Sunday, May 5, 9:30 am/11 am: Coming of Age (9th grade) Sunday
Sunday, June 2nd: Flower Communion Sunday