Pastor’s Ponderings

How do we welcome younger children into our Sunday school, worship service and activities of the church? Claybanks United Methodist Church is a church not unlike many other churches who love to have children be a part of the church in its many activities, education and worship. We encourage parents, grandparents and community members to bring young people to our church. Yet at times we are concerned about how we can make this happen and be very inclusive with our children.

I, as your pastor, work very hard to be inclusive with all our young children when I deliver a children’s message each Sunday. Our Sunday school teachers and Megan, our Music Director, work hard to incorporate music and education in our Sunday morning programs for them. We do all that we can to include our young children in the many different activities of the church where they can add a blessing to our mission and life as a church.

Recently I received a communication from the Montague United Methodist Church entitled, “The Child In The Pew”. I am including parts of it where it is applicable in my message to you as it can pertain to Claybanks United Methodist Church.

When little children come to the church, adults sometimes wonder why. Actually, bringing children into the sanctuary is something like getting them to eat at a dinner table. Even though their manners are far from elegant, it is done in hopes that, given time, they all begin to feel like parts of the family.

Children giggle, they poke, and they swing their feet back and forth simply because they are children. But, they also sing, pray, and give with us. So, this page is written to suggest that we adults should accept, even value, the children’s restlessness during worship, trusting that they are also learning:
• That it is important to come to this place each Sunday.
• That they belong to this special company of people.
• That the sights and sounds are good, though not always understandable.
• That something is expected of them in this place, and that they may respond in song, prayer, and in offering.
• May they come to know that they are God’s Children and are loved by God and us.

Bringing children to church can be a real exercise for friends, parents and grandparents. But then again, so are many other facets of parenting and the rewards are well worth the effort. While we do not want our children to be disruptive or hamper churches worship, we must always remember that children are members of the church, too. Children should be among the worshiping people. They may not participate in just the same way as adults do, but they are growing in understanding and learning to take their place in the churches family and over time what a blessing it is to see the beautiful changes take place in our young people as they continue to grow.

Young children and worship may have challenging moments, but it is our birthright as Christians to worship. Our satisfaction comes in later years when we see them stand in the midst of the church with a faith of their own.

Pew Tips For Parents And Other Adults:
• Arrive in time to find a good place to sit so your children can see. A spot closer to the front helps in this.
• Let your children choose prior to entering the sanctuary from the many different items that are at our Welcome Table to give them some activities to do while experiencing the sights and sounds in the sanctuary.
• Practice the Lord’s Prayer at home, tell them what is coming next in the worship service and encourage them to come up for the Children’s Moment.
• A pre-arranged signal is good to let your children know when it’s time to settle down.
• Express joy at having children worship with you, especially those who are with other families. Send a smile in their direction every once in a while.
• Give prayers and thanks to God for a child’s presence.
• Invite parents to sit with you so that you may assist with bottles, dropped toys, and teaching children how to worship.
• Just be patient! Give parents some time to settle a crying baby. Give your crying baby some time to settle, too! Don’t rush out of the sanctuary at first sign of a cry. (I as a Pastor love to hear the cry of a new born baby in worship – It means God has blessed us with New Life!)
• Ask your children to tell you when they hear a predetermined word or phrase in a hymn or message.
• Open the Hymnal. Follow along with your finger to encourage children to read music and celebrate worship by singing.
• Prepare your children for worship by telling them before worship begins what is expected of them.
• Most of all, free yourself of anxieties and relax. We are a family of faith and we promise to love unconditionally!

It is when we bring our children to worship that we see the blessings that God has given not just parents and grandparents but to our church community as well. We welcome all the young people into our worship, Sunday school and church activities of the Claybanks United Methodist Church. Someday these children will be the leaders, workers and disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world. It is our responsibility to see that all our resources are available and given to them so that God’s Kingdom can be shared with the world around us.

Blessing for the new year of 2018!
Pastor,
Gary

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