By Steve Hands
“Why do you come to worship at church? What do you hope for?” This was probably not the opening question my class expected. To wrap up our final four weeks of EQUIP classes, I decided to take any families who were willing through the book Parenting in the Pewby Robbie Castleman. I had promoted the class by telling families we were going to work together on worshiping together with our kids. Every Sunday at our Warrenville campus we have our children from Kindergarten on up join us for the whole worship service (and a few even younger than that!). We certainly all knew we needed the help. I know I needed it.
But before we jumped the gun into our best strategies for helping kids be still, be quiet, and obey, Robbie challenged us to reconsider why we come to worship at all. Here’s the quote that rocked all our boats: “Worship is not a refueling to get us through another week. Worship is not a system of traditions built up over many years of congregational life until everyone feels comfortable. Worship is not a time to unwind, relax, tune out or take a mental vacation. Worship is not an hour of Christian entertainment. It is not what makes us good people, faithful Christians or successful parents.”
Worship is a gift, but it is not primarily a gift for us, or to us. It is a gift from us to God. It is the surrender of our attention to him, to hear what he has to say. It is the gift of our praise, celebrating who God is and what he’s done. And over the course of four weeks, we began to learn that we can offer this gift of worship to God even with kids, and for those of us who are parents perhaps even especially with our kids.
It makes such a difference to come on Sunday desiring to give the best gift I can to God, and to help my kids give their best gifts to God as well. Right now, that involves a lot of my kids dancing to songs they haven’t quite learned to sing yet. But their joy in the sanctuary, their celebration of God as best as they are able, blesses the Lord, I’m sure.
So why do you come to church? How different would it be to come looking to offer God the best gift you are able? Let’s learn together to give God the best of our attention, our praise, and—if we worship with our families— our diligence in leading your family to offer their gifts too. We’ll bless the Lord, I’m sure.
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.
Your brother in Christ,
Robbie Fox Castleman. Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship(Kindle Locations 150-152). Kindle Edition.