Children in Church

Image

ChildishThing

Children and The Big Church

Kids.  We don’t know what to do with them, they’re a different animal.  They cry, wiggle, draw, distract and simply play.

They’re not yet beaten and berated by the world.  They’ve not had their creative and curious energy stamped out.  It’s more of a process than and event, that said,  until the process is complete we don’t know what to do with them at Church.

At Transcend Church we’ve worked to gradually move Children toward the sanctuary and deeper within the body.  We do this as a process seeking to find a balance between, their growth, their needs, the reality of Church and their comfort/ability to learn.

Briana and I were Calvary Chapel folks for a time while in the west of the US.  In Calvary Chapel their is a heavy emphasis on the study of the Word of God as such during a worship service people do not leave and re-enter the sanctuary.  Calvary Chapel’s provide an overflow area that people can be in while still seeing and hearing the service, but without being a distraction to the study mid-service.  Further, young children are not brought into the sanctuary.

This is often met with a great deal of displeasure.  However, the heart behind the policy is on providing

a) and opportunity  for parents to concentrate on the word

b) an environment for children to lean that is conducive for their learning.

Culturally it’s interesting – we would never have children in a college classroom, it seems ridiculous because they’ll get nothing from it, they’ll be a distraction to the entire class, and they’ll distract their parents from learning.  Schools, like HACC Harrisburg, provide day care for these reasons.  However, you’ll see children quite routinely in Church drawing, talking singing, walking around in service.  This is something obviously that is a decision of parents and the parents have a right to the decision.  Each of us is responsible before the Lord for raising our children as they should go.

At Transcend our Children’s Ministry Philosophy overall environment is designed to meet children where they are, and bring them gradually into the sanctuary and come along side you in discipling your children in the way they should go.  We want our children to begin to foster a love for Jesus, and excitement for His church that builds a foundation for worship of God’s glory over a distain for boredom.

Our classes and teachers introduce children to scripture in engaging ways that encourage them to participate and engage with The Word.  Children will learn from scripture directly, in  way to speaks to them.  Rather than enduring an hour plus in the sanctuary.  You’ll have opportunities to talk with them about what they’re learning in class and engage with them, while also yourself concentrating squarely on the study of the word, presented for an adult audience.

At Transcend Church we provide a movement from the back of the church (a place reserved for mothers only) to the toddler – first grade classroom into the school age classroom.  By 6th grade our children have moved into the sanctuary.  This is the movement and maturation to church goers we hope to foster.  Our prayerful approach seeks to allow children to align with their church home.  Further, to know themselves as members of their church.  When children become 18 if they leave home and go off to college, it is our hope and prayer that they find a church home as they’ve identified with a body for years.  However, if they stay home or go to college close to home, it is our desire that they continue to find their home in the body that they’ve found themselves within for years.

Our model leverages teachers in classrooms who care genuinely for the children they teach, who specifically study for their weekly classes, and leverage a great curriculum for delivering the messages to the children.  Moreover, introduces children in the 2nd to 6th grade classroom to corporate worship and attendance through announcements before moving to their classrooms; reminding them of their greater involvement in The Church corporately.

In a single church rarely are you going to have an entire body that agrees with an approach to child rearing, much less with children in church.  In our own small body we have plenty of disagreement in approach and that is OK.  We all stand together in grace and love – as we live together in community we must either know that we’ll not have perfect alignment on issues, or stand ready to divide often when we crack through ignorance into reality realizing we disagree on yet another secondary issue.

Please comment below with your thoughts regarding my own ideas about children in church and/or the Church’s approach to children in ministry.

Grace and peace to you as you seek to plow the world as a family,

Pastor John Weathersby

 

Advertisements

Sexuality

Image

We’re shy with sex and sexuality.

Simply the mention of the word sex and sexuality or anything really within the same semantic domain and we’re squeamish back to 6th grade health class with Mr. Schmeeder <– I made that name up.

At the simple mention of the medical name of sexual organs, grown men will giggle like school age children and it’s generally true of all Americans – go ahead, try it out loud say, “penis”.

Sexuality then becomes relegated to a dark, back alley, sort of filth.  Something not talked about in the open and it becomes associated with negative stereo types: perversions, and extreme behaviors.  Exploring human sexuality openly and considering sexuality then, is to engage in darkened areas of society frequented only by sailors and people with tattoos…

Further in an age where “people do their private, personal, and controversial thinking online” – John Saddington it is increasingly easy to find commonality of people in what would have been extremes of sexual behavior and identify with those extremes as your new normal, entertaining every fleeting passion.

Sinful ideas, that are in open rebellion to the order of God’s creation and extremes of perversion (the alteration of something from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended) become the only venue because all other doors (conversation, walking together in support, the church…) are culturally closed off to confused individuals.

As such, those who are confused or curious may be forced (or feel culturally forced) to take on extremes.

When speaking on Homosexuality (broadly) Matt Chandler stated:

“When pastors talk about this issue and they talk with a lisp, or they make masculinity out to be like climbing mountains and hunting like that’s what’s masculine, they do the sensitive male a disservice.” – Matt Chandler

And so it is – people in authority, thought leaders, and others dealing publicly with sexuality and while they’re not personally comfortable with take an out in mockery and comedy.

However, inadvertently through their mockery they can alienate people, making individual’s questions more taboo and pushing people into the extremes of society, unnecessarily.

How will you walk and talk differently to keep people from being forced into extreme behavior and perversion?

As  a follow on note, I found this book, Is God Anti Gay, to be provoking and great food for thought on the subject of Sexuality, confusion, and Christianity – feel free to comment on the review on the Transcend Church site or let me know here what you think!

Please comment below:

Pastor John Weathersby

The Way Kids Should Go

ImageThe age group in the room was varied 25 – 36 however, the story was similar.

No one was in their home State, not one person.

All adult-children, discussing the Church, our upbringing, and reflecting on the good and bad of our faith past.  It is interesting listening to adults talk about their raising, their parental impressions, and their processing of it all.  You can hear frustrations, hurts, pain, joy, admiration all of those things are mixed into peoples recollections of their upbringing.

I was lost in my thoughts at this point.  I know recently I read a blog post by Tim Challies on their decision not to allow their children to have sleepovers: http://www.challies.com/articles/why-my-family-doesnt-do-sleepovers parents are charged with making big decisions.

Then it came to me: Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

There was a Christian rooting in the room – a knowledge of God – and an appreciation for Him despite the various trials and testing found in each persons Church experience.  It turns out our parents hadn’t messed us up too badly.

It was a time of encouragement – as a father of young children – are we getting it all right with our own children, doubtfully.  Are we raising them up in the way they should go, prayerfully.  Similar to the Challies, we have wrestled over many decisions regarding our children in seeking to shepherd them and even simply keep them safe in a scary world.

  • Train children up to seek God from scripture. 
  • Train children to find fellowship in the imperfect Church, The Bride of Christ.
  • Train children to extend grace to their fellow believers, not seeking perfection but community.

I wonder however, as we seek to train up our children if we seek to have some fun along the way and enjoy blessings.  Jesus talked often about our blessings and demonstrated a dutiful life balanced with a joy and pleasure in life.  Parents your children aren’t simply obedience robots, they’re people.  Part of training them up in the way they should go is teaching them to enjoy God.  I wonder how frequently we show our children how to enjoy creation, how to tie pleasure in the world God created.  To take joy in the flavors of life.

We serve a creative God who not only gave us a way to provide sustenance to our cells, but tastebuds and emotional centers that give us a pleasure in these things which serves to charge our worship of Him.  Our participation in corporate worship is no different – are you encouraging your children to take a view of worship as duty only.  As a time goal to be out the door.  Or are you balancing those things with the weight of God’s presence.  With a balance of duty and pleasure joy and service.

Lets seek to raise obedient AND worshipful children – what a great goal!

Be encouraged mom – be encouraged dad.  Be assured you’re not getting it 100% – stay true, pray, love, and train – I’ve seen it play out – I’ve seen the result – I’ve seen the adult-children ultimately blessed by their parents attempts in training.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John Weathersby

American Savery

Jesus tells of slavery

Lumberg needs you at the office

My wife said it so well.  In America we’re slaves“.

It stuck with me for days until I came to the realization “we’re slaves to our own dream”.  The American dream is understood to include freedom and decidedly includes opportunities for both prosperity and success.  In chasing the later – we’ve neglected the former and have lost our freedom.

We’ve twisted these definitions.  Back in the day our grandparents (or maybe our grandparents parents), worked.  Oh, they didn’t work like us, they worked, hard – honest – work.  They built a home as they could, and they owned things.

We own nothing

We’ve redefined ownership.  Because the dream has become wholly centered upon chasing a prosperity built on a non-reality founded in Robin Leach, to sustain this we’ve had to make more and more, money.  We’ve done so by creating credit (which is bondage and slavery) in order to make more we’ve needed to saddle our fellow countrymen with debt, because we just don’t have the actual wealth to live as we all want.

We’ve become a nation of debt – we own, nothing but a life of indentured servant-hood – slavery.

A surprised audience learns Jesus sees them as slaves

In John 8:33 Jesus told the Jews they were slaves, they could not believe it – “us, slaves”.  And that too was me, “we’re Americans, we’re slaves to no one”.  My thought life was some cross between Cloyd Rivers and Joe Dirt.

We need to take back our minds, and our thought processes from slavery.  We need to be willing to work.  This will take time, but when we’re back from the bondage of slavery to a debt built on a bastardized American dream.  Then, and only then, we can rebuild the American dream, built on freedom and prosperity that is God seeking.  A prosperity that allows us to then go and make disciples of all nations – not a prosperity that holds us slaves to 40+ hour weeks of bondage and a work that is mind numbing and isolating.

Free your mind, life doesn’t have to be like we’ve made it!

Pastor John Weathersby

And so the fight begins

Image

The morning wasn’t that different – my alarm went off, I grabbed my phone, and the fight for my day began.

Vying for my attention are:

  • the new texts,
  • email’s,
  • Facebook,
  • and twitter status
  • not to mention G+
  • and daily work load.

But I desire to occupy my mind in the morning with God.

It’s a daily fight – sadly, sometimes I lose, or do I win – someone wins.  Sometimes, my priorities are off and I rocket into work issues, or keep up with my social networks.

Then it happens – John 14:15 races through my mind “If you love me, you will keep my commandments“.

So regularly used as the hammer of preachers to conform the dross nominal Christian into warriors of prayer, devotion, and performance.  These this is antithetical to Jesus’ purposes here.

In marriage if we love our spouse, we’ll not cheat on them.  We’ll honor them in my behavior, in our restraint, and in our thought life.  At the same time, instantiating a bodily honor, a firm restraint, and a iron clad thought life do NOT build my love for my spouse.

A brute ability to adhere to performance does not foster, love.

Jesus’ call to see our love for him lived out in our works, was a loving call for us to inspect the fruit of our works, for evidences of love.  When love isn’t found in our works we’re not to pound out the result (loving works) to create the motivator (love for Jesus)- we’re to be drawn nearer to God, we’re to commune more with Christ.

…And so, my daily struggle isn’t to pound out the devotion and to ignore the world.  Rather it is to seek Christ in a way full of desire and love.  In a way that KNOWS the fruit of our time will be a deepened love.

‘Oh, that we would desire Jesus more.

Pastor John Weathersby

Me and the phone

Image

…and then I realized, I just don’t like the phone.

It isn’t that I don’t like talking to people, I actually do!  It isn’t that I don’t like to be connected, I do.  I just don’t like the obligation that comes with the phone – because I have a phone, I have to be responsive.

It used to be that if you were outside, in the yard and a phone call came in it would ring, and ring, …and ring. Sometimes, if you called someone on the phone, it would signal  you that they were already on a call, rather than presenting them with the option to prioritize one call over another.

In fact, I remember from my childhood eventually the phone would just say via recorded operator message, ‘I’m sorry they’re not answering’.

And that was simply, it.

No voice mail.

No text message to push through.

No page me 911.

The simple reality was, you may not communicate with this person until you see them in person again.

Then I looked at my phone, it has hundreds of unread email, my visual voice-mail is 92% full and when it rings I have to stop everything, and be in someone’s world and at their whim.

What do you think, how do we find a balance between a mannered phone-owner, a loving Christian and someone with a life they can live in the here and now, without a phone on their face?

John Weathersby

It was obvious

Image

Sometimes the obvious thoughts are most insightful.  This one was no exception.

Today while reading through the book of Ephesians I came to see this letter more clearly to be a gross celebration of the love, mercy, and grace of God for us, in Christ.  All the while, I think it’s an expression of Paul’s amazement rather than a well packaged theological treatise designed simply for our head knowledge.

As Paul hammers into the Ephesians saints themes of Grace and Mercy bound in the person of Christ – he begs them to see the joy in it all and understand all these riches, all this love, and all this grace as being fulfilled and found, in Christ.

Ephesians 1:18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints”

He so longs for them to be joined together in the truth of Christ.  Bringing glory on the son in their fellowship, in Him.

Read Ephesians, this is the Transcend Church Harrisburg study, and see the lavish excitement Paul has for God in Christ bound up in the power of the Spirit of God and join him in his excitement, in Christ!
Pastor John Weathersby