1. Cultural experience that helps answer bigger questions for kids
More and more parents are beginning to realize this, even those who aren’t so sure they believe in God themselves. Involving our children in the cultural experience of a church family helps provide them with language to describe the many joys and pains of life. Particularly at Christmas time, we have the opportunity to communicate to our children the truth that there are things so much bigger, and so much more important, than the shopping, the food, and the holiday stress. By bringing them to a Christmas Eve candlelight service, for example, we open our kids to the experience of the Divine. As they grow older and begin to ponder the bigger questions of life, they—maybe like you—will recall their experience in the church, and have a source from which to grasp understanding and hope.
2. A time to instill traditions and values
When you bring your child to church, you expose them to the traditions of not just a particular congregation, but of an entire history of people who have been asking the same questions and finding the same answers for generations. During Christmas, families have the opportunity to “test the waters” of tradition. If you and your family aren’t the “church-going-type” yet, Christmas provides the perfect bridge to just try something religious. Since it’s already a large part of our social vocabulary, reading the Christmas story or attending a Christmas Eve service doesn’t have to come as a shock. Giving church a “try” in this manner just might lead your family into a new series of traditions that could have a life-changing impact on your children.
3. Services have evolved to fit the needs of today's families
One of the biggest anxieties of people who are less familiar with church is just that: the unfamiliarity and the apprehensions that accompany it. Will it be boring? Do I bring my children into the service? What if I don’t know the words to the songs? Won’t people know that I’ve never been to church just by looking at me?
Many churches today take these questions into consideration, and do everything they can to make church a comfortable environment for the whole family. At Christ United Methodist Church, where I have the privilege of being a pastor, we provide two family services on Christmas Eve that are designed for people with these questions. We completely understand that children have short attention spans and enjoy yelling out random sounds at random times. That’s okay! We’ve created a participatory service where each child will get to hang an ornament on one of the trees at the front of the sanctuary. There will be fun music and the Christmas story will be acted out in a live nativity. I even get to preach the “sermon” which is usually about 3 minutes long because we know that’s about 3-minutes longer than kids want to sit still!
I know my church isn’t alone in this effort to create a church experience that is family-friendly this Christmas season. If you’re already a regular church member, keep making it a priority in your life. If you’ve never stepped foot in a church, it is never too late to do so.
Join us at Christ United Methodist Church Christmas Service on December 24 and 25.
Written by: Rev. Josh Fitzpatrick
Originally published: fitzpastor.com