One of the things that I have begun doing is a children’s message during Sunday worship. I know, almost everyone does that. I was so bad at these at the beginning that I stopped doing it. Routinely, I would be under-prepared–even trying to figure out what I was going to do as I drove down the hill to church on Sunday morning. Not good.
At New Year’s, one of my churches welcomed two new families that have young children. I saw the mother’s enthusiasm for church and I quickly saw that I had to something to solidify their connection to the church. I resurrected the children’s message with a renewed sense of purpose–it was not for the entertainment of the adults, it wasn’t even for the amusement of the children themswelves. The children’s message’s purpose was even more direct–it was to include them in worship: to teach them the ways of the Lord; to reveal God’s grace and love to them; to testify that God speaks to children; to recognize that children have joys and concerns like the rest of us and they, too, need worship; they also need the community of believers to help them grow in wisdom and in stature. Joyfully, with a renewed seriousness, returning the children’s moment to worship has been a very rewarding thing.
Given the seriousness of the children’s moment, I decided that I needed a new approach–one that would help me with planning and implementation. So, just as I sit down quarterly and hammer out worship for the adults in the upcoming season, so too I take time to hammer out a children’s message series. Treating children’s moments like a sermon series has opened up my creativity and helped me be organized. Firstly, I taught the kids the Lord’s Prayer, one line per week. We learned the line, talked about what it meant and led the church in prayer. We have tackled the seven days of creation, children in the Bible and, this summer, the fruits of the spirit (yes, with fruit). For fall, since I am preaching on the gospel primarily, children’s moments will take lessons from James. I have just sketched out 12 lessons for Sunday worship through Christ the King Sunday. It’s nice just to get this put together. Now, all I have to do is do it.
The great thing I have discovered is that the Bible has a lot to say to children. James is a no nonsense book that addresses envy, partiality, rich vs. poor, etc. The challenge is to take these teachings and translate them to children. One thing that I like about this is that it minimizes the temptation to make children’s messages cheap and gimmicky. I presume that by doing real faith development with the children, that everyone will grow. I know that I have already. Tomorrow’s lesson comes from James 1:5-8–what should we ask for when praying to God?