Children and Church :: May Congregational Letter

boy peeking past brotherDear St. Andrew’s Family,

As you look around St. Andrew’s one of the first things I hope you notice is the number of children and youth we have at St. Andrew’s.  And from this observation, I hope you conclude that our children (and their families) matter.

Their presence grows out of our commitment to incorporate children in the life and mission of St. Andrew’s and to nurture them in a growing relationship with God.  Why? Because we take seriously our responsibility to help raise the next generation of God’s people.  Your kids matter to me – and they matter to your larger church family.

I say this because parents often apologize to me for the “distraction” they think that their child was during our worship service.  But nothing can be further from the truth. I love the “distractions.”

I love the sounds of little voices saying, “amen” a split-second after everyone else, or “uh-oh” at a dramatic point in the Scripture reading or sermon.  I love the sight of little ones swaying – or outright dancing – to the music with unselfconscious freedom. I love the tackle/hugs I get after the services.

Parents, when you are here with your children on a Sunday morning our church is filled with a joyful noise, and we  are all blessed. When you are here with your children we are reminded that we are a family, God’s family, gathered around Word and sacrament, in song and in prayer.  When you are here with your children I see them learning that the Christian faith is bigger than themselves – that Christian friendships matter. I see them learning that the Body of Christ is multifaceted and made up of all kinds of people.  I see them learning that corporate worship is important. And I see them learning that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. That they – as are we all – are caught up in God’s big story. The big story of God in Christ redeeming and reconciling the world to Himself.

I see them learning this in many ways: the young boy insistently sharing the peace with everyone in his row; the young girl learning to navigate her Bible as she looks up Ephesians 3.14-21 (which is on page 977 in your pew Bible); the toddler returning from Children’s Ministry to excitedly take part in Communion.

I see your children learning in many ways of Christ’s love, and I am grateful.

I also remember. I remember the seemingly endless events that competed with the Sunday worship service.  I remember how hard it was to get four boys dressed and out of the house each Sunday morning (well, I remember how hard it was for Jacqui who had to do it solo each week of our boys’ lives as I was already at church).

All that to say, I am blessed – we are all blessed – by your children and their participation in our common life.

Because our children are important, we devote a good bit of our time, energy, and resources to supporting family life.  And, I want to flag a few initiatives soon to take place at St. Andrew’s aimed at supporting your family life.

Marriage :: Created for Connection

First, this Saturday, 11 May, from 9.00 am – 4.00 pm, we are hosting a one-day marriage workshop with The Rev’d Dr. Sam and Beth Pascoe.  Sam, as many of our men will know from the Men’s Retreat, is an ordained clergyman with a great gift of transparent communication.  Beth is a therapist with an emphasis on child and family development. They have a powerful story of God’s redemptive power at work in their marriage. You can read more and register on our website: StAndrews.Church.

Family FX: Kickoff to Summer

Secondly, as we seek to support family life, our Children’s Ministry has developed a family devotional as a resource for families to be used over the summer – helping to both deepen your family’s faith life as well as keep us as a church together during the busy summer months of travel.  A hardcopy of the devotional will be distributed at our “Family FX: Kickoff to Summer” event, Sunday, 9 June, 4.00 – 6.00 pm, for families with kids 3K – 5th Grade, as well as electronically.  You can access the electronic copy online: SimpleBooklet.com/CreationStory

Parent Resources

Related to this we are adding a “Parent Resource” page to our website that will have a variety of resources to our parents of all-age kids.  This feature will be active from 1 June onward. You will be able to access this page from the Children’s Ministry section of our website found at StAndrewsChildren.com.

Praying for Our Children

Finally, I share with you one of my favorite prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. I’ve prayed it many times for my boys.  I hope you’ll join me in praying it regularly for our St. Andrew’s kids:

“God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

In the family,

+Steve