This week at The Well we had a child / parent dedication. We do dedications in a pretty cool way and I’ll write about that this week, but I wanted to share something I wrote that outlines our overall approach to children, worship and community.
Children & Families at The Well
There is no question that children are a precious gift from God. Because of this, how they fit into the life of our community is no small matter. At The Well, we believe that the family is the best place for spiritual formation of children. It is the role of the church community to partner with parents in helping children to love God and love others. Therefore, our goal is to work alongside parents as they rear their children.
We also know that parents are not the only ones who have an impact on the development of a child. Most adults do not realize how important their interaction with other people’s children really is. We take seriously the idea that “it takes a village (i.e. church) to raise a child.” Therefore, it is important to address the role that children have in our worship services.
Sunday School & Nursery
Beth Wood, our Children’s Ministry Director, has done a great job of growing an excellent Sunday School and Nursery ministry. The volunteers who generously serve with her are awesome. Both Nursery and Sunday School are great places for children to learn at a level that they can understand as well as interact closely with qualified, caring adults. (All of our volunteers undergo background checks and are carefully selected by Beth Wood).
At a specific time during the service, usually after our opening music, children are invited to the classrooms in the back of our building for a time of learning more appropriate to their ages. The children are separated into different classes based on their age. After the preaching, parents are welcome to bring their kids into the service to join them for communion and the final songs. For safety, we do ask that parents personally pick up and drop off their children from the Sunday School rooms. The nursery is available during the entire service.
A good Sunday School program is only one part of a child’s involvement in our community. Our goal is not, and never will be, to hide children away so we can get on with the “important big people stuff.”
Their interaction with the rest of the community before, after and during the service plays a vital role in shaping their lives. Whether you are a parent or not, we hope you know that your presence and interaction is shaping these children in significant ways. This is a great gift and also great calling. This is both humbling and exciting.
With this in mind, we encourage our families to be intentional in helping our children understand what it means to worship God and celebrate Him in the midst of community.
We encourage you to worship with your children during the singing and quiet times of our gatherings. This might mean sitting up front with them. This might mean sitting with them at a table in the back while you enjoy your coffee and they have a donut. (We don’t suggest you give them coffee. That might be trouble for all of us!) The goal here is not merely to get them to be quiet and sitting with you. While that is obviously more conducive to worship, we all know that it is not always possible. Instead, the main goal is to teach them how to worship as part of a community. But, the fact is, this goal is much easier realized when you are sitting and worshiping together as a family. We know that kids will be kids! Of course when kids are kids, parents need to be parents. Please be aware of where your children at all times and seeking to ensure that they are participating in worship and not running around without supervision.
To Those Who Aren’t Parents:
We encourage you to welcome our children into your lives as well. Sit with a family during worship. Teach once a month in Sunday School. Play with them after the service. Before you know it, you might just find yourself at a school play or a pee-wee soccer game. The Christian community is a family and you are a part of it, even if you are single.
As we have already said, children are a beautiful part of our family. We want to be intentional about inviting them into our church family in ways that teach them the simple, yet difficult call to love God and to love others.
We pray that our Sunday mornings, in addition to our other community events, will be a great support to the parents and families in our community.