Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

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darinhouston
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Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

Post by darinhouston » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:10 pm

I have a 5 year old son, and have been alternating weeks with him joining us in the congregational worship service one week and then joining his friends in sunday school the next week. It is important to me that he grows to learn how to behave in the service, and also that he sees mom and dad worshipping God together, developing a respect for the formal presentation of the Word, and having a view of the church beyond activities and classrooms and service projects. It's been going pretty well, but this past week the sermon was on addictions and recovery, etc. It was pretty marginal in terms of age-appropriateness, but when a lady came forward to give her testimony of addiction, sexual abuse, and other things of that nature, I left the service and took my son to sunday school.

A neighbor had the same reaction, and sent a note to the pastor, who strongly defended the service, and even the lack of "parental notice" suggesting people need to hear such things and that children have other places to learn on Sunday mornings. I agree that people need to be confronted with such things, but disagree that children have no place and think that advance notice should be provided of such things in a planned worship service.

I'm curious of the views and rationale for balancing between protecting children from some aspects of "reality" while allowing them to see that the world isn't perfect, that people struggle and have challenges, that God is a healing God and that recovery comes to those who seek it, etc.

I know I can't shield him from all social ills, but personally, I'd prefer he remain ignorant of such things as child abuse and drug addiction and the like that he won't "inevitably" experience or learn of in his young life.

What are your thoughts?

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darinhouston
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Re: Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

Post by darinhouston » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:46 pm

Here is what I plan to send my pastor, though I am very interested to hear other's views and correction/rebuke if I'm off base.

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As difficult as it can be to hear testimonies of abuse and addiction, I am thankful for congregational testimonies of the challenges others around us face and the encouragement we can share in the victory others have experienced from God's grace in recovery and restoration. I especially appreciated your concluding words and the expounded message expressed through your closing prayer Sunday. I believe it is important for all of us to recognize that even we who don't suffer from such scandalous addictions too often are ourselves addicted to our own self-interest, pride, and so many other bondages which are equally needful of surrender.

That said, I would very much appreciate a congregational "warning" or "program note" when such explicit and sensitive matters as drug-abuse, child-abuse, suicide, molestation and the like are going to be the topic of our congregational message. My wife and I are raising a 5 year old boy and a 2 year old girl, and though I continually struggle with the right balance of "protection from" and "exposure to" the very real challenges others experience and other "realities" of life I believe that some of these topics are pretty clearly inappropriate for our younger children. There are some struggles common to man which they would do well to appreciate even at this age. However, it is my hope that many of these more troubling issues will not even be known to them for many more years as I steward their delicate and developing spirits.

Though we are blessed to have so many ministries at The Foundry for children of all ages, I believe there is a special grace that extends to a child during corporate worship. Not least, I believe it is important for a child to witness his parents actively involved in worship, to experience respect in the reading of the Word, to experience the joy in lifting praises to our Lord in song, and to generally have a perspective of the church body beyond that experienced in classrooms, activities, and even service projects. To that end, we have been alternating our son's participation in corporate worship every other week, and hope to continue doing so. I know you value their role in our church family, and would ask that you prayerfully consider how these matters can be more delicately addressed in our congregational worship.

Thank you, and may God continue to bless your ministry.

In Him,
Darin

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Suzana
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Re: Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

Post by Suzana » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:57 pm

Darin,

I agree with you; there are definitely some aspects of 'real life' that young children especially need to be shielded from if possible, and their innocence protected.

I think you are within your rights to request advance notice - and I don't see why the pastor would object to this - even secular news programs (here in Australia anyway) will post a warning before certain news items - 'a warning that some viewers may find the following scenes distressing' or something similar.
Suzana
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If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere. - Henry Ward Beecher

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Suzana
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Re: Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

Post by Suzana » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:38 am

Hi Darin,

Just wondering if you've sent your letter and if you've had any response yet?
Suzana
_________________________
If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere. - Henry Ward Beecher

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darinhouston
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Re: Children in Worship / Exposure to Testimonies

Post by darinhouston » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:49 am

Yes, and it was very humbly received -- I know he had responded to a neighbor with a somewhat less than gracious response, but they had also included a topic that clearly touched a nerve with him as it was the very essence of his life mission (local service to the poor, etc). Who knows whether he was just in a "better place" when he received mine, whether I had the benefit of softening sections after seeing the earlier response, or if he had been broken down by a number of such emails, but I was glad to see his thankful response.

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