(This article first appeared in The Alabama Baptist newspaper. Click here for the original article.)
When my daughter was 3, our babysitter decided to return to her corporate job, leaving us with 2 weeks to find a new sitter. God quickly opened the door to a new sitter where my daughter made friends who would be with her all the years of elementary school.
Working parents face tough decisions when it comes to child care. Grandparents or other relatives often help out. Daycare is another option. However, even when kids start school, parents are not freed from the childcare dilemma, often seeking quality care for the time before or after school.
To meet this growing need for afterschool care, many Alabama Baptist churches are opening their doors to students and providing a much-needed ministry to their communities. But in many communities, there are no few if any good options for kids and their parents.
What has been your most significant daycare dilemma? Was it while your kids were preschool aged or have the challenges increased as they've gotten older? Has your church or another church in your community helped your family? I would love to hear your story.
Several years ago, my husband became the librarian at an elementary school. The previous librarian had just retired after 30 years of teaching, many of those in the library. Over the years, the librarian had gotten quite possessive of the books in the library. She liked the neatness of the shelves. She liked all the books in perfect order. She didn't really want anyone to touch the books.
The students saw the library very differently. They also saw the library as belonging to them. But the students were not usually neat. They did not prioritize the Dewey Decimal System. In fact, they wanted to take books off the shelves. Sometimes they decided the first book they chose was not the one they wanted, so they pulled another off the shelf.
You get the picture. The librarian's vision of the library and the students' vision of the library were very different.
I wonder if church leadership can sometimes be a little like the old librarian. We like the neatness of our worship. We like the order, the predictability. We don't want anyone to touch our worship service.
And in trying to protect the service, to maintain the order and the neatness, we exclude the young. We are inconvenienced by their enthusiasm. We refuse their eager service because it will take too much time and effort to include them in worship. We keep them away from the instruments--too expensive. We turn them away when they want to help with the offering--too risky. We don't ask them to read a Scripture or say a prayer--too unpredictable.
And in turning the young people away, we are risking the very future of our churches. We assume they will be willing to wait until we are ready to hand over control. But what if they aren't? What if someone or something offers them a chance to use their gifts?
God chose Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Mary. He chose them all in their youth for important tasks that lasted their entire lifetimes. He didn't choose them for a special Sunday once a year and then ask them to take a seat until the next designated youth day rolled around.
It's our job, as parents and as church leaders to lead our children and to prepare them to lead. The effort may be expensive, risky, and unpredictable, but so is the future of our churches if we fail to "train up" our children when they are young.
Does your church have a "hands-off" approach when it comes to involving children and youth in worship? What ways does your church intentionally involve young people in worship? I would love to hear from you!
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend, teacher, writer, and disciple of Christ. Most days, I find it really challenging to navigate all these roles.
But I am committed to the journey so that, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection ... I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:8-14)
Once a week or so, I will share snapshots of my journey and explore the questions that challenge me along the way. Since I often feel I'm as if I'm at a street corner, waiting for the light to tell me whether to stop, go, or wait, I'm calling this blog "On the Corner of Faith and Family." Faith and Family inform every step I take. Along these two roads, life's humor, sorrows, dilemmas, solutions, fun, and fears all go whizzing by. This corner rests at the most important intersection in my life, so here I'll share some of my own stories as well as some really great stories from folks who inspire me to appreciate my blessings and to live intentionally. Thanks for joining me on this journey!
I am a regular contributor to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and I also write and edit for several religious, business and educational outlets through my business, McWhorter Media and Marketing.
One of the greatest privileges of being a writer is the opportunity to share the stories of others with a larger audience. I love to do that!
Sharing my own stories is much more challenging, though no less important to making sense of the challenges of Faith and Family in everyday life.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions.
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