By now if you’re a part of NCPC you’ve probably heard that we will be moving to two morning worship services in February of 2014. I’ve been thinking about this shift for years, and there are a pile of details to get in order as we make such a shift in the ministry of our church. One of those areas is deeply relational and personal to me, and it confronts me when I take off my pastor’s hat and put on my Dad hat. Now admittedly I don’t do that (take off one role for another) since one role informs the other and as I’m more or less faithful in one it deeply impacts the other. But as I think of moving to two services, I find myself asking what impact will it have on my children and my family. Here are a few things that come to my mind for all of us, some challenges, and some encouragements:
The ebb and flow of our Sunday schedule will change. This may seem obvious, but our kids are accustomed to routine, and that routine is about to change. Whether you choose to attend the early or late service, there will be an adjustment. Naps for very young kids, dealing with hunger during the service, getting up earlier or leaving at different times all will be an adjustment that will take time. The good news is that they (and we) are creatures of habit, and it won’t take too long before those new habits become old hat.
There will be people (especially friends) that my kids won’t get to see as much. One of the things I love about NCPC is that my kids have developed their closest friendships at church! I love that they want to come and see one another on Sunday. (Now I recognize that this is not everyone’s experience; some kids have found close friends at school, in sports or in their neighborhood and that’s a great thing too, unless they are friendships that are dragging them down spiritually. If you’re interested in the topic of navigating your children’s friendships, come to our parenting Sunday School where we are discussing this currently!) But going to two services will mean that some of their friends’ families might choose the other service and they won’t see them as much. How can we help our children if that happens? Hopefully we will help them with the same things we can do for ourselves: we need to seek community in a variety of venues. The biggest and most obvious is coming to Sunday School and staying around for the fellowship time in between services. There they can get some of the very same interaction they are used to every week! Getting involved in Community Groups, Youth Ministry, and other informal times during the week are all part of how we go beyond just casual friendships to significant connections in the Body.
There will be an increased awareness of our church’s mission for our children to experience. At a meeting of English ministers in the late 1700’s the young minister William Carey was invited to suggest a discussion topic. Carey had become burdened for the spiritual condition of unreached peoples in the world, and suggested they discuss their obligation to reach them with the Gospel. The leader of the meeting interrupted him and said “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid and mine.” Fortunately Carey did not listen to this man, and instead on another occasion stated that we should “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Carey began the English Baptist Missionary Society, sailed for India, and is known now as the father of modern missions. Carey’s statement (even though it is about global missions) highlights what we should be seeking in this change as a church. Attempt something that feels risky, but is an act of faith. In that attempt, we should have a great expectation that God will actually bless the Gospel proclamation in our midst! May our children see that and own that mission for their life as well.
They will have a fresh occasion to think through how they can use their gifts in the Body. We will all be called to think about how we can give ourselves and use our gifts in this new strategic initiative. Why should it be different for our children? Over the holidays, spend some time talking about this upcoming change with your family. Pray and think and discuss together about how you all might serve the body and the world in this new season of NCPC’s ministry. Ask the Lord to use this for their spiritual growth, that they might serve one another through love (Gal. 5:13).
They will have a new opportunity to reach out to unbelieving friends. Now that there will be more options at NCPC to worship, our hope is to use this season of change as an opportunity to invite people to church with these new options. Pray as a family about whom you might like to invite. Perhaps they have friends from school, the neighborhood, or a sports team that come to their minds. Talk together about the best ways to invite people, and then pray for opportunity to do so.
They will see our church as a place seeking to love people with the Gospel, and Lord willing they will learn to love this way as well. I pray this will happen in all of us. One of my great hopes as a Father is that my kids would not only know the deep love that Jesus has for them, but they would also desire to extend that same love to others. May our children grow up knowing that NCPC is a church that loves people enough to tell them about Christ! And, may they see NCPC as a place willing to attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God.
Let’s pray to that end in this great ministry endeavor. “O God, do great things for your glory and your fame!”