- Posted by Tony Huy
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One of the weekly experiences at For His Glory Community Church is a time of worship that encompasses the voices of both adults and children. We call it Family Worship. It’s how we start our weekly gatherings on Sunday mornings. We bring in the adults, we bring in the children, and as a collective family, we pray and we worship. We’ve done this from the beginning, because from the beginning we were convinced that the discipleship of children and their participation in the broader community of God’s people are intricately tied together.
This Sunday, we’re excited to extend Family Worship a step further – all the children (except for those in the nursery) will remain with us for the entirety of the service. This means children will experience the echoes of prayer among their parents, will participate in the melodies of joy with their parents, will process the Word of Life with their parents, and will witness their parents participate in the faith-enriching act of the Bread and the Cup. This Sunday, “children’s ministry” will be the life of the church and “Sunday school teachers” will be moms and dads, college students and professionals, every gathered adult that belongs to Jesus. This Sunday, church will simply be Family Worship.
In light of this, here are four goals we have for Sunday:
(1) AID PARENTS IN THEIR CALLING
At the heart of it, the discipleship of children belong to their parents. God is clear on this.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7, ESV)
The development of this type of love, and all its intensity, comes through a type of teaching that is both verbal and non-verbal. It’s the latter type of learning that we are especially aiming for through Family Worship. We believe that as children see Mom and Dad humbly bowing their head in prayer, joyfully singing the truths of the gospel, and hungrily processing the Word of God, non-verbal sermons are making impressions. Small impressions perhaps, but impressions that by the grace of God, may blossom into things like awe, reverence, devotion, dependence, delight. In essence, things that make up love. We hope to give parents a platform to shaping their children, and that through something they already do – the worship of Jesus.
(2) REINFORCE THE BOND OF FAMILY
Nothing prepares a child for covenant with God and covenant with God’s people like the bond of family. Unfortunately, our hectic lives don’t work well in enabling this lesson. For most days of the week, things like school and sports and long hours at the office, and even church involvement, work to fragment the family. Our prayer is that Family Worship will help families push back. Our prayer is that Family Worship will be a stake in the ground, a place families can say: in this space, in this moment, in this greatest endeavor of life – the worship of Jesus – we stand united as a family. We believe this experience can be immeasurable in strengthening the bond of family, and in so doing, prepping children for covenant with God and God’s people.
(3) HELP CHILDREN LEARN THE SACREDNESS OF GOD
Scripture makes a big deal about the holiness of God and to teach that He is sacred in all the universe. In a real sense, awakened faith is simply the response to the awe of this sacredness. Think of Moses and the burning bush, Isaiah and the throne of God, Daniel and his dreams, Paul encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus. For these, and many others in scripture, moments that put life and self in correct proportions to God was an enabling force for trust in times of despair, hardship, and difficulties. Awe in the sacredness of God does this because it sweetens the truth of His love and compassion. This is our aim in Family Worship. Grow God’s sacredness in the understanding of our children. Help them to see, through adult interaction with God, that He is altogether unique in all the universe. Leave them speechless – how can a person like God love me?
(4) REMEMBER THE NATURE OF GOD AND HIS KINGDOM
One way to define worship is the remembering of God. We sing to remember God. In prayer we remember God. We hear sermons, and while we may learn something new from time to time, most often, and most forcibly, they work to enable us to remember something we already know about God. We eat the bread and drink the cup and what do we most often say as we hold the elements? Remember me.
Why have children among us as we do church? Won’t they be a distraction? Won’t everything go over their heads?
But maybe that is the very point of what we need.
Jesus once said:
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”” (Matthew 19:14, ESV)
Children among adults doing “big church” teaches us that God is patient with His people; that by the grace of God we are growing and have not yet arrived; that our place in the congregation of the redeemed finds no dependency upon our ability nor our output, but upon the output of Jesus’ life and upon His ability to cleanse us from our sins; that life in Christ is not instantly perfect and tiddy, but a maturing that happens over time as we are bound to Christ, as children to parents. Children among adults doing “big church” teaches us that while much of God goes over our heads, what we get of God is beyond sufficient for the deepest experience of life. Children among adults doing “big church” is a reminder that before God, who are the adults? Who are the “big people” doing “big church?” Before God, we all stand has greatly needy and deeply loved children of God.
What would we be like as a people and as a church if we remember this about God and His kingdom? As we gather for Family Worship tomorrow, may God remind us of these things.
So come tomorrow. Bring your children. Bring their bibles. Let’s a gather as a family of families and let’s worship Jesus!!