Why we don't have a separate kids space on third Sundays
Every third Sunday Missio will not have a separate space for our kids. Instead, kids will be a part of the worship gathering. Sometimes these Sundays will fill you with joy as you watch the youngest members of our community belt out worship songs at the top of their lungs or dance to the music. And other days, as you strain your ears to hear the teaching over cries, you’ll be asking yourself, why do we do this again? It’s not because we don’t have enough volunteers or to give our volunteers a break. We intentionally worship together as families once a month in order to foster an intergenerational faith community, because we believe this is vital for faith maturity for all ages.
Here’s a few reasons we value intergenerational worship gatherings:
- When people of any age inhabit spaces solely within their developmental level, it is more difficult to progress to the next stage of development.
- Children influence their parents’ development, not simply vice versa.
- Parenting is so hard in our individualistic culture in which we’ve done away with the “village” it takes to raise a child. It is important for children to have relationships with adults who are not their parents, and spending time in worship together is a great way for young people to develop these mentor relationships.
- Worshiping together builds a sense of communal belonging for all ages. If we leave certain age groups out they will struggle to develop this sense of belonging.
- It creates a great space to build shared experiences for children and parents, which can open doors for formal and informal conversations at home.
Answering why we choose not to have a separate kids space once a month is easy, but addressing how is more difficult. Being together with someone from a different developmental stage, whether it’s interaction between a grandmother and grandchild or a Gen-Xer and a millennial, can be hard. It requires humility, mutual submission, and respect for different strengths and passions. And we’re not expecting this to come easy at Missio. We are asking for an enormous amount of patience from our community as we work hard to teach and model these qualities. Here’s some ways parents and non-parents can help create an enjoyable space for faith development each third Sunday:
For everyone (please be sure you always have permission from parents for any of the suggestions below):
- Having kids join us in worship means it’s going to be noisy and possibly chaotic. That’s OK. Please hear these noises as representations of a faith growing culture rather than a nuisance.
- Do you see a parent feeling stressed in service? See if there’s a way to help. Maybe you can hold the infant so that Mom or Dad can give attention to the bored toddler. Or let the curious baby play with your key chain.
- Give lots of encouragement. Go out of your way to say things to parents like, “I loved seeing your child participate in worship today” or “You’re doing such a great job with your kids.”
- Invite an older child to take communion with you.
- Please don’t judge. Even the most well-behaved child (or adult) will have moments of throwing a tantrum at volume 10. It’s OK.
- Invite people of different generations to join our church community. We crave the wisdom all ages provide.
- Don’t feel like you’re confined to your chair. There are tables in the back as well as a section with books. Feel free to use the space as needed.
- Practice at home. Start by listening to an audiobook for just a couple minutes with your toddler in your lap. When they start wiggling or being noisy gently remind them this is a time to sit still and listen. Slowly add more time as they learn to sit longer.
- A great way to teach literate children to listen is by giving them a list of words to listen for. There are clipboards in the back every Sunday that allow kids to give checkmarks for each time a specific word is said. This is a fun game for kids while also encouraging listening.
- Come prepared. Feel free to use anything you need to to help the morning go well for both you and your child. Some days you'll feel like supermom, while other days you need an ipad or snacks to get through. That’s fine, no judgment here! (PS – if you forgot to pack a snack feel free to grab a chunk of communion bread for your hangry toddler if it helps).
- Set expectations beforehand. In the car on the way to church remind your kids what the day will look like. “There won’t be class today, I’m so excited you’re going to worship with Mommy and Daddy. Remember you need to be quiet when you are in with the adults…”
Thanks for helping us build a faith forming community for adults and kids of all ages.