I had a “proud parent” moment this morning. Please indulge me while I share:
Today, my wife Lori and our two boys, Nathan and Samuel, ages 8 and 10 were on a worship team, which meant that they were ushering and Lori was also reading the scriptures.
Our boys had ushered before. They enjoy handing out the bulletins, welcoming people and helping to collect offering.
It is our practice that during the offeratory, one of the ushers carries the offering plates up the center aisle. The pastor who is behind the altar comes down to the base of the chancel to meet the usher, and takes the plates up to the altar.
Today I stood behind the altar, raised my arms and asked the congregation to stand. As the offeratory music started. I looked to the back of the Sanctuary and there stood Nathan and Samuel, holding the offering plates.
- The plates are the polished gold brass type plates. They are heavy.
- It’s kind of a long walk up there.
- What if they trip?
These nervous thoughts all went through my mind. But our lead usher this morning, Sandy, had briefed them well, and they carried the offerings up to the front to meet me, with big, proud smiles on their faces.
I bent over and whispered “thanks!” to them and received the offering, bringing it to the altar. It was a proud parent moment. But as I reflect, it was also more than that. It was also a moment when two my boys were engaged in worship. It was a moment when children carried the offerings of the people to present to God. They had been coached and prepared. It was a moment when children played a role in leadership.
(Broad, sweeping generalization alert here) There aren’t enough opportunities for young people to bring their offerings to God. In the church culture in which we live, we don’t integrate, we segregate. Young people don’t practice their faith as much as they “learn” about it. Even though we know all that we know, we persist in following practices that we know aren’t effective.
Children and youth are rich with gifts to bring to the altar. Their gifts don’t look like the gifts that you and I bring, but they are gifts nonetheless. In the ministry to which we are called, we worry every day about how young people will remain engaged and embedded within our communities.
This morning reminded me: Perhaps if we honor and use the gifts of young people, our congregations will be places where they will want to continue to use them.