This Sunday – 10 April
The worship this past Sunday excited a good number, pushed several a little outside their comfort zones and was difficult for at least a few.
On a personal note, I am deeply grateful for the grace the congregation extended to our youth as I explained during the announcements that the service was modified to make worship a little more accessible to those in grades 5 and up who stayed for the whole service and participated in worship.
Please continue to keep me as well as the Christian Education and Worship Teams in your prayers as we faithfully discern how best to glorify God in our worship and pass on the good news to the next generation.
For worship this week, our scripture lesson is from Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23. This is the familiar parable of the sower.
Looking forward to worshiping with you,
p.s. I have 3, maybe 4, individuals who will be joining me for “Belonging Matters” on April 17th and 24th. Please let me know by this Sunday if you are able to attend in order that I have enough materials. Thank you!
DATES to REMEMBER
APRIL 17th & 24th – Belonging Matters from 12 to 1:30 p.m. with Rev. Janet
Apr. 24th – Solar Celebration after Worship
Do you have a green thumb? Would you like to learn how to have a green thumb? It is officially spring and the gardening season is upon us.
In the past 3 years, the community gardens at MHP have produced and donated over 600 lbs of food, educated local Montessori students, reached out to our community, traded saved seeds with other community groups and sent some of our saved seeds to Africa. This year, we will be adding fruit trees thanks to a generous grant from Treemobile.org and Orchard People.
Our gardens need people to help till, plant, weed, water and care for them in addition to teaching children, providing beverages and snacks to helpers, conversation and more. Please contact Gina if you are able to help.
Why Is Intergenerational Worship Important?
A Quick Summary:
There are many benefits to having children in worship with the rest of the congregation.
- Children learn to worship by being in worship
- Children are more likely to grow into worshipping adults if they are in worship as children
- Children bring a joy to worship, which adults have sometimes forgotten about
- When teaching children about worship, we remember what it’s all about
- By including children in the leadership of worship, we experience worship in different ways
- When children are in worship, they are surrounded by Christian adults who can be role models for them
- Children are more likely to develop relationships with adults in the congregation when they spend more time with them
- Adults are more likely to get to know children when they are present in worship
- Worship styles which reach children are often good for reaching adults too
Lifelong Faith Study
If the goal of bringing children to church is to introduce them to a life-long relationship with Christ, it would follow that we would hope most of our children would still be faithful as teens and young adults. In 2010, a large study called “Lifelong Faith” was published which examined the change in “religiousness” between teens and young adults. “Religiousness” was defined as frequency of religious service attendance, professed importance of faith in everyday life, and frequency of personal prayer.
As you can see, only 22% of young adults would fall in the highest level of religious – those who attend regularly, place a high level of importance on their faith and pray regularly. But 34% of those were in the highest group as teens.
54% of highly religious teens become less religious as young adults. 55% of moderately religious teens become less religious as young adults. So what we’re doing with our children and youth is not being terribly effective at helping them to become religious young adults.
This study also addressed what the key factors were for those who remained religious. There were 6 key factors. If a child or teen had any four of these six key factors, they were much more likely to remain in the church as young adults.
The first three factors have a lot to do with home life. Their parents must show strong faith in their own life – daily life and weekly attendance at church. And this must include both parents. If only one parent is involved, this will not count as one of the key factors influencing the child or teen.
The importance of religious faith in daily life and personal prayer and scripture reading can be influenced by the church, but they’re more likely to be influenced by the parents.
The next two, however, are more influenced by the church. In order for the child or teen to have supportive nonparent adults in their congregation, they must be involved in the life of the church. They must be “with” the adults. In many ways, this also goes back to the very first point about being a welcoming community. We must also be welcoming to our children and youth – not just a trite hello, but really getting to know them and building relationships with them.
The fifth box – about religious experiences such as camp, Canada Youth, Vacation Bible Camp, etc. – can also include worship as long as the child or youth feels involved in leading worship. The interesting thing about that is that children and youth feel “involved” in leading when ANY child or youth is involved in leading. They live vicariously through one another.
Hemorrhaging Faith Study
The other MAJOR research that has been done in the last few years is reported in a document called Hemorrhaging Faith. It is the touchstone in children & youth ministries these days. Some of the key points that have come from this document are that only 1/3 of the children who attended church 15-20 years ago are still attending church as young adults today. And of those who are no longer worshipping, half of them no longer even identify with being a Christian. They haven’t just left because they got busy with school, but intend on returning once they marry. They don’t intend to return. But the most staggering thing is that although we’ve seen the stats on how many young adults we’re losing, there are even more young people leaving the church between childhood and teen years. They’re not even getting to youth ministry. They’re not even getting to the 6 key factors. They’re not getting to come to CY. They’re already gone.
And the research goes on and on and on. Family-Based Youth Ministry, Sustainable Youth Ministry, Sticky Faith, Lifelong Faith, Hemorrhaging Faith, Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus, Welcoming Children by Joyce Ann Mercer, workshop after workshop, book after book all saying the same things about children & youth ministries.
We need to be looking at Children & Youth Ministries differently. Rodger Nishioka (Presbyterian Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary) said in no uncertain terms that all of the research states that children should be IN worship. Sunday School should be held at a separate time, before or after worship, but everyone should be IN worship together. Our youth ministry team spoke to him about that particular point after his presentation because obviously that’s not the way we do it at Chalmers. We asked him if having children in worship on a regular basis, say once a month, would be adequate and he agreed that that could work as long as it was intentional and they were included.
Children at Communion, Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997
While there is all of this research that speaks in general terms about long-term results of children in worship, a document written by Dorothy Henderson for the Presbyterian Church in Canada almost 20 years ago puts it very simply. She wrote: “Does your church have Church School during worship or at a separate time? Having Church School at a separate time allows children to attend worship with their parents and learn how to take part. If you have Church School at the same time as church, then make sure that you keep your child with you during worship from time to time – perhaps one Sunday a month – and during the summer or on the Sundays when there is no Church School.”