Involving Avery in our worship assembly at Legacy this past Sunday (see yesterday’s “Waiting On One Another”) is just one of the many ways we’re trying to be more intentional here of making our times together more interactive, more participatory, more inter-generational; something for every member of every age and life circumstance to grab, to own. We have a long, long way to go. But we’re trying.
As for the kids — our youngest young people — we need to be just as concerned with giving them a larger and more interesting view of God’s splendor in our assemblies as we are with our older folks.
I know a lot of the battle with a lot of our parents today is getting their kids into the worship assemblies to start with. Sometimes, they just don’t want to go. Most of you have heard it from your kids, “Why do I have to go to church?”
It’s a legitimate question that deserves real answers. It deserves much more than just “because I said so” or “because it’s good for you” or “because God wants us to” or “because we’re supposed to.” Our children deserve more than that.
Marva Dawn, in her excellent A Royal “Waste” of Time, supplies readers with ten answers she gives to the child’s question, “Why do I have to go to church?”
1) We’re not going to church; YOU are the Church — and we go to worship so that we learn how to be Church.
2) We need you with us in worship because those who are old and tired need your smiles and vitality.
3) The congregation cannot get along without you. Just as your body needs every single part — like your eyes, your nose, your mouth, your hands and feet — so the church needs every single person to make it whole. Perhaps some Sunday some persons will need you to be eyes or hands for them.
4) You need the gifts of worship because you will learn things there that will make sense later. Almost every week I learn something that comes up in the days to follow.
5) If you pay close attention to the words of the songs and the Scripture readings and the liturgy, you will learn all kinds of new things about God. Since God is infinitely incomprehensible, all of life is an adventure in getting to know him better, but worship is especially rich with his presence.
6) Attending worship will teach you skills for your Christian life — skills like how to pray, how to sing, how to sit quietly in God’s presence, how to study the Bible.
7) I need you to come to worship because I have cancer and am taking chemotherapy, which makes me too sick to sing, so I need you to stand beside me and sing for the both of us.
8) The congregation needs the talents you bring to worship — your singing voice in the hymns, your ability to learn new songs quickly, your ability to read the Scriptures well, your help with the ushering, your warmth and friendliness in the “Passing of the Peace,” the answers you give during the children’s sermon, your modeling of reverence for the other children.
9) When I preach, I need to watch you to see if what I am saying is understandable to people your age. I need you to give me critiques when the worship service is over.
10) Most important, God needs you there because he loves to be with you among his people.
Hmmmm. Come to think of it, those reasons work equally well with us older people, too.