Dear Parents: Thank You for Bringing Your Children to Worship

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Dear Parents,

Thank you for bringing your babies to worship. When I was a young mom, we were encouraged to bring our babies to the nursery, not the sanctuary, so I missed out on cuddling my newborn while Psalms were read and songs were sung. Seeing you rock your little one to sleep from across the aisle reminds us that God’s family includes all ages.

I’m glad you’re taking your toddlers along too. One Sunday during worship I saw a 2 year old girl passed lovingly from one set of arms to another all the way down the row from where she had been sitting with her mom. Everyone wanted a chance to hold her as she waved her hands to the music and watched her father play the keyboard at the front of the sanctuary. Watching each person extend their arms toward this little one and ask “me too?” was like watching our baptismal promises come to life.  

Thank you for including your preschoolers. When little Dakota and Ayo spontaneously held each other’s hands last week and began dancing in the aisles to the beat of the music, they showed us what it means to worship God with joyful abandon. And when Lily makes her way over to her grandpa, climbs up on his lap, and looks at him while he sings songs of praise, the two of them are painting a beautiful picture of one generation calling to the next.

I’m so glad you’re looking for opportunities to involve your children in worship. I can’t think of a better way for God's family to enter the church building on a Sunday morning than by shaking your hand and receiving a high-five from your child. You taught your child what it means to give back the day he opened his zipper sealed plastic bag and poured the coins he'd collected into the offering for the hurricane victims he’d seen on the news. During baptism, when your child joins the crowd that comes forward to pray for and lay hands on the person who was baptized, he knows he belongs and we're getting a live snapshot of what it means to be an intergenerational body of believers. And thank you for making morning announcements while your son clings to your leg and your daughter holds your hand. You’re teaching them that talking to God’s family isn’t that different than sharing a story around the kitchen table.

Speaking of supper, participating in the Lord’s Supper with your kids nurtures our faith as it nurtures theirs. Lining up with believers of all ages to receive the elements and observing an adult get down on one knee to make eye contact with a child and say, “Jesus gave his life for you, Evan” reminds us that Jesus died for all of us. Watching a little girl balance her pink plastic purse on one arm as she carefully walks back to her seat while carrying a precious piece of bread and a ready-to-overflow cup of juice reminds us what a special and abundant gift we’re receiving. And don’t worry about your little one spilling—that’s a lesson in grace.

Parenting is hard work and I know that some Sundays you’re just longing to sit in silence. And I suspect that there have been times when you’ve felt like your wee ones weren’t always welcome in worship. Please persist. Because, in addition the blessings your children bring to us as God’s family when we worship together, you’re training your child to do the one thing we get to do forever: worship. (Robbie Castleman, Parenting in the Pew.)

Children learn by observing. But they learn even more by participating. So keep coming. Keep trying. We’re glad you’re here.

Posted in:
  • Intergenerational Ministry
  • Parenting
  • Blog
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What a perfect article.  Thank you for it.  I've forwarded it as my own thank-you letter to parents in our church (who, wonderfully, behave just like the parents described).

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That's a wonderful way to use the post, Dave. Thanks for sharing!

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