This past Sunday we had our first official “multi-generational” service. We wanted to be intentional about mixing our congregation of kids and our congregation of adults together into one big church family. Instead of heading down to the basement for Children’s Church (and our usual messy games, loud songs with crazy motions, and object lessons to help teach Bible stories), we stayed upstairs with the adults for the entire service.
For weeks I had been pitching this idea to the kids. We were going to be a part of the service–singing, collecting the offering, reading announcements, etc. We would show them how to have fun! We would also be able to learn some new things about what goes on in the adult service and listen to Pastor Brady preach.
To the adults, I stressed the importance of including the kids into the church family and teaching them how to behave in the sanctuary. This was going to be good for all of us! We would all grow from this experience.
Sunday morning, 8:00 am–I panicked! These are the same kids that I have practically had to peel off the ceiling because they were so wound up at times. I have given countless speeches about things such as not jumping over pews, not throwing things at people’s heads, and not covering the toilet seat with liquid glue (yes, that happened!). What if they were in one of “those” moods? What if they were loud and rude and crazy? What if we had first time visitors and they went away wondering if we were running a church or a zoo?
In a last-minute effort to control the chaos, I pulled out an old copy of “Sermon Notes” we used to use when we didn’t have the large population of kids we have now. It was a worksheet that gave them space to draw a picture of the lesson, write down prayer requests, verses we read, etc. I handed one to each child and offered a prize and a sucker if they turned it in at the end of service.
I am pleased and humbled to say that I learned more from my church kids Sunday than they did from me. When they turned in their papers (after sitting like little angels through the service) I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well they were listening.
This is a group of kids who, for the most part, come to church without their families. Some of them have not been in church for long at all. Some of them struggle with behavior issues. Many of them have a lot more on their plates than most adults I know. This is a group of kids who I sometimes feel haven’t absorbed a single word that I say. Even with all the object lessons, videos, games, crafts, and other KidMin tricks up my sleeve, I still wonder if anything from the lesson is sinking in their little heads and hearts. But they were able to listen to a sermon right alongside the adults and…they got it!
Here are some really cool pictures from some really cool kids. This is the prophet Elijah on the mountain, calling down the fire from Heaven in front of the Israelites and the false prophets.
Here’s proof they were listening to the prayer requests and also the verses Pastor Brady included in the sermon:
And this might be my favorite…this little girl drew a fork in the road. One sign leads to Baal, and the other to the Lord.
If you think that they aren’t listening, I hope this encourages you. We have just as much to learn from them as they do from us. Let’s be willing to teach them and let them teach us.