If you have been at First Baptist lately, you may have noticed the increasing number of children that are wiggling in the pews, running down the aisles, and making joyful noises during worship. The sight of children in worship is one that brings me tremendous joy. I have to admit, I’ve not always been an advocate for young children sitting through an entire worship service but my tune has changed over the past year. I have come to realize that there is great value in children sitting with their families in a sacred space, listening to and singing hymns, and witnessing their parents participate in worship.
My position has further been validated as I have experienced the effects of worship on my own children, particularly my very active eight year old son, Grant. I catch him singing the chorus of hymns in the shower, while doing his homework, in the car—I tell you, the boy sings ALL THE TIME! But the soft and sweet words that leave his lips are a reminder to me that he has listened. Grant has soaked up these words and they are in his heart, even after leaving the walls of the church. My prayer is these songs bring him a security in Christ that I can’t provide him.
Then this past Sunday during worship, I witnessed something that remains vividly etched in my mind. As we approached the cross at the center of the sanctuary, we were instructed to touch the shoulder of someone near us as we remembered our connection to the cross during our prayer time. As I stood there with my family, I looked down as Grant laid his hand on the shoulder of his friend when the friend said, “What are you doing?” Grant replied “we are supposed to” and with those words, both eight year old boys reached up their small hands and touched those in front of them. During the prayer, I was overwhelmed with emotion as their precious hands laid on the shoulders of those in front of them. We were all connected, all ages, all backgrounds, all people coming together to worship God.
They get it. Although they may be young and wiggly (and at times noisy), children are receiving more than we can imagine during worship. By being a part of the worship service, children are receiving the many gifts that God provides
us as we gather each Sunday morning.
Reflection by Christina McCord, Minister to Children and Families