worship

  • Sunday School Change on Its Way

    On Sunday at the voters meeting after church, the council introduced a change that we’ve been discussing for a few months now.

    The proposed change involves the way we teach Sunday School to our children. Currently, the children leave the worship service after the children’s chat and come back into the worship service at some point during or after the offering. Starting in September, we’ll be trying a test run of having the kids remain in the worship service and holding Sunday School for the children at the same time as Bible study for the adults after worship.

    The current plan is to try this from September through December, assessing if we should continue the practice into 2020 and beyond.

    I know that this is a big ask. It is a lot to ask of parents, Sunday School teachers, and probably most especially of our Sunday School kids.

    There are pros and cons to the current way we handle Sunday School. There are pros and cons to the change we will be making. I know I’ve spoken with several of you about this, but I haven’t reached everybody one-on-one, so I wanted to speak to this change here in the First Notes. Over the next few weeks I plan to lay out some of the reasoning behind the change and how the congregational leadership hopes it will better form and instruct the congregation’s children as we all seek to follow Christ together.

    As Ellen noted in the meeting on Sunday, this began with a simple question from me wanting to know the history of how we came to have the current policy for Sunday School. Discussions with the council, the elders, other congregation members, and nearby pastors have led me to support the change as the best course of action at this time for First Lutheran Church and Preschool.

    I know there are a lot of questions and a lot of logistical challenges to work through before we launch in September. I want to be as transparent about this change as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with me about them. Let’s do our best to refrain from gossip. Let’s walk forward together into this change with hopefulness that this is where the Lord is leading our community.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • Three Words of Encouragement

    This week we start an exciting journey. For the first time in about a decade, our Sunday School kids will be in the entire worship service with us. They will have time for a fuller lesson (with a new curriculum that I hear is stellar). There will be a few new Sunday School teachers.

    The kids also will get the opportunity to listen to the Bible readings, hear the sermon, confess the Creed, and participate in the prayers and the offering. For many of these kids, this will be one of the first times they have been a part of these important moments of worship.

    To help facilitate this change, I have a few words of encouragement.

    1. Be patient.

    When you do something for the first time, it is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t expect our kids to be perfectly behaved and neither should you. I expect them to be kids who are learning something new. They will probably have questions. As a congregation, let’s work together to teach them, lead them, and answer their questions with patience. Let’s try our best not to give parents or kids dirty looks or yell at kids for misbehaving. Let’s share with them the joy we find in worship as we get to hear the good news of God’s promises.

    1. Help them follow along.

    Some of our parents and grandparents have several children they are looking after. This is the first time in a long time they’ll have to do that for a full hour of worship. Don’t be afraid to sit with a family and help out a little bit. Some of our Sunday School kids may wish to sit with other families and build relationships with them (with their parents’ permission of course). That’s great! Worshiping together as a family is wonderful. Some parents and children really take joy in that experience. I know I did. My sister loved sitting with Grandpa Jack and Grandma Delores (not really our grandparents, just family friends). Sitting with family and sitting with others can both be great. Let’s be flexible with that knowing each family and each child is different.

    1. Model what to do.

    As humans, we often learn by observation. If you’ve ever been to a new church before, you know how this goes. You sort of wait and watch to see when other people stand and sit and sing. You react to those around you and follow their lead. Starting this Sunday we’ll have a page for sermon notes in the bulletin. Take notes. Draw a picture. Take that page home with you. Ask your kids what notes they took in the service.

  • Upcoming Small Changes

    One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to help with the transition of having our Sunday School kids in worship throughout the whole service. I’ve had a lot of ideas, some of them better than others. I’ve heard several ideas from many of you which I have been grateful for.

    One thing you will notice me doing with more regularity in the coming weeks is explaining parts of the service. These moments won’t be scripted in the bulletin, but they will hopefully be opportunities for the kids to get a down to earth explanation of what is happening, and perhaps the adults will learn a few things as well.

    I also plan to have a time for prayer requests on the second Sunday of each month. Instead of writing out the prayers beforehand, I’ll ask the congregation if there are any prayer requests, write them down, and pray for them. I want to do this for many reasons, but one is to show that we are a community that cares for one another, that brings our burdens and our joys before the Lord and before each other so that we can share in those burdens and joys together. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

    Finally, I plan to have an insert for sermon notes. I personally have a hard time listening to sermons without taking notes. As our youngest members begin listening to sermons for the first time, they may find it helpful to jot some things down or draw a picture. You may find that helpful too. And since it is an insert, you can take it home with you and maybe even hang it on your refrigerator.

    Thanks again for your patience as we move forward together in faith.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • Worship Is for All God's People

    In last week’s First Notes, I mentioned the proposed change to move Sunday School after the worship service, during the Bible study hour. This week, I’d like to share one reason I think this is important related to worship.

    What is worship?

    You may find different dictionaries use different phrasing, but in essence, worship is an individual or community showing adoration, praise, reverence, love to something or someone.

    For Christians, worship is God’s people gathering together to adore, praise, revere, and love our Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    In worship services at First Lutheran, we show our love and praise of God with hymns and prayers and a confession of our common faith in God. We also offer back to God from the abundance of the financial blessings He has poured upon us.

    In worship, we are also blessed by God’s good gifts coming down to us as God comes among His people in His Word and Sacraments. We receive God’s Word of forgiveness in the Absolution. We receive God’s Word of instruction and salvation in the three Bible readings and in the sermon. We receive the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.

    In our current format, you will see that our children are missing out on some of these opportunities to love and praise God. Our Sunday School students and teachers miss the confession of faith in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. They miss the prayers of the church. They often miss the offering.

    Our Sunday School students and teachers also miss some of the opportunities to receive God’s good gifts since they do not hear the Bible readings or the sermon.

    The reason why I think it is wise for us to move Sunday School outside the worship time is simple: our children are God’s people. There is no age limit on worship. There is no age limit on receiving God’s good gifts nor on being able to love and praise God.

    Sunday School itself is a great time to teach our children about the faith, to share the stories of God’s action in the world most especially through Jesus. But worship, worship is the time when we teach children and all new believers how to be God’s people, how to love and praise God in songs and prayers. Worship is where we teach each new generation how God comes down to us with His good gifts of forgiveness and life.

    Our children belong in worship because they are God’s people. 

    God’s blessings on your week.

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LCMS logoFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a family of congregations focused on bringing Christ to the nations and sharing His unconditional saving Love within our community.

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