Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Life of the Church

I was standing in church on the front row like I always am when I come to my home church to visit. The worship music was going and everyone was singing. I realized that my brother Andrew wasn't anywhere to be seen. I looked around and he was missing. About that time, the ushers began their walk down the aisle before the offertory prayer. Walking down the aisle, between men three times his height, was my brother. Quite the vision of excitement on his face. When the prayer was over, he was handed a gold plate and went straight to the aisle behind him to pass it. A few minutes later he came around the side of our row and plopped down in his usual spot between Josh and me. He grinned, completely overjoyed that he had finished his special job well. I smiled too and swallowed the lump in my throat. 

I watched several young adults (people under the age of 18) sing, play the piano, read Scripture and do what any adult would do in the church. They did it well. I was reminded of something so simple and yet so true. These "children" are the life of the Church. They are the heartbeat. Yes, they are more energetic, but is that a bad thing? 

When Dad got up to preach, none of the children were shooed away to "Children's Church." I remember Children's Church from only a few years ago. I had been there a few times in several different churches. The children's class teachers insisted that we couldn't understand what the preacher was saying in Big Church. It was just for the adults... we were better off in the colorful classroom eating snacks and hearing about David and Goliath for the hundredth time that year. I always wondered what was such a secret in the Big Church that us kids couldn't hear. Why couldn't I be in there too? I was very thankful that my church didn't make me go off to the kid's classes during church service. There were no little disclaimers on the back of the bulletin that said, "If your child might disturb the service, we request that you take them out." No sir, I got to hear the real sermon from the real preacher and it wasn't such a big secret after all. I sat and scribbled on scraps of paper if I got bored and learned to sit there quietly the rest of the time. 

Jesus never sent the children away when he spoke. The children sat there and learned from God. So why can't children sit and learn from the man of God in the pulpit? Is he not little Sally's preacher as much as he is the elderly lady's in the back row? 

No wonder so many college students say goodbye to church after they leave home. Who would want to come sit in a boring old service anyway when you haven't had to do anything but listen to loud music in a youth room and have fun at Caswell every summer? No one in their right mind. They have no reason to stay. The "adults" handle all of the important things in the church anyway. 

Churches, stop taking the "heart" out of you church every Sunday morning. Let the life stay. Let them learn. Let them be involved so when they are adults themselves, they will still want to stay. 

What Andrew experienced on Sunday is more than he could ever experience in Children's Church. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me." So let the children come!