I wrote this a while back, but it really ministered to me this week as I reflected on our Christmas program last Sunday. Many churches are inviting the children into their services this month for Christmas. Take a few moments and “feel” the room when they are there. Yes, it is wiggly, squirmy, and chattery…but it is also very much alive.
It was 2:30 pm. I had about 30 minutes to get a walk in before the kids got home from school. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, the sun was shining and I joyfully headed out the door. The neighborhood was quiet. You could hear hammers in the distance working on the church that is renovating on the next hill. Birds were chirping, cars were still, and Kalas Village (my neighborhood) looked dormant like it was experiencing a lazy afternoon nap.
As I returned from my walk at 3:00 pm all I could think was, “Get ready Kalas. The busses are coming!”
Ten minutes later, it looked like a switch got turned on. The quiet streets were suddenly alive. Chirping birds were replaced by shouting, laughing, chattering children running, jumping, and skipping down the street. Doors of houses flew open, backpacks were deposited, snacks consumed, homework done… well, maybe… and the kids were back out again.
Within the next 30 minutes the playground at the Community House swelled with moving bodies. A game of softball, a game of 4 Square and a bunch of kids jumping rope took over the asphalt slabs where one day hopefully tennis courts and a basketball court will stand. Young kiddos played closer to home on bikes, trikes, scooters, and strollers. The Village had indeed awakened. Life was evident.
The family minister in me could not help but wonder…
Is this what happened to the church when we removed the kids from the midst of the congregation? When we, with all good intention, moved them and their energy and their laughter and their tears to more appropriate locations that better suited their age and needs?
Is it possible that we unintentionally put the church to sleep?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every church that has Sunday school or Kids Church is asleep. I happen to be a big believer in KidMin and in youth ministry. What I am saying is that maybe, just maybe, we’ve taken it a little too far.
Because let’s be honest, don’t we love to see children praying at the altar?
Aren’t we blessed when they share in communion?
Or we hear that enthusiastic albeit quite loud “Amen!” at the end of the pastor’s prayer?
Kids are loud. They are full of energy. They laugh at inappropriate times. What they call a whisper is a few decibels under what we call an explosion. They run when they should walk. They fidget when they should sit still. They ask questions and sing loudly (off key) and cry for no reason at all.
“Then Jesus put a little child among them. Taking the child in His arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me, welcomes not only Me, but also my Father who sent me.”
It does beg the question, have we welcomed Christ and the Father in this way into our churches, into our services and into our sacred spaces? I’m pretty sure kids in Jesus’ day acted a lot like, well, kids. And yet, He tells us that if we welcome these messy, loud, and often sticky kids on his behalf, or as other translations say, in His name, it is just like welcoming Him and welcoming the Father.
It was lovely to walk in the quiet of the day. I enjoyed the moment. It was also wonderful to hear the sounds of life echo through my home until dusk. I’m willing to bet we need both in our lives to truly experience life. And I’m also willing to bet, we need both in the church too.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- And much more!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.