Last Monday, I was privileged to go along to ‘Family Mayhem’. This was an open evening for Monday Mayhem to which we were all invited. With nearly 50 people attending it was a great evening where adults and children played, worked, and worshipped together. It’s so encouraging to see the growth in Monday Mayhem; from its small beginnings of 7 or 8 children to it now topping 20 children in attendance. That’s credit to the Monday Mayhem team’s perseverance and commitment to the children and to this mission activity; and of course great credit to God!
I worked out that throughout the week we must have about 100 children and young people come through our doors for various activities: Monday Mayhem, Little Oaks Toddler Group, Girl Guiding, SAY and Sunday School. They come because they find enjoyment, safety, encouragement and they feel valued. We are grateful to all those people who are involved in the leadership of those various groups and we thank God for giving them the gift and passion for their work with our young people.
Then later on in this past week I found a post on Facebook with a picture of the Dean of Coventry Cathedral’s Grand-daughter crawling across the aisle of the Cathedral in a purposeful way whilst the service was going on. The Reverend Canon Kathryn Fleming, Canon Pastor of the Cathedral wrote alongside it:
‘One of the unexpected pleasures of worship last week was the sight of the Dean’s Grand-daughter crawling across the aisle … she gave me so much hope, and I found myself reflecting again on the journey we are making towards being a truly welcoming space for all comers, whether or not they behave exactly as we think they should. When my own children were very small, our vicar posted ‘10 Commandments for Churchgoing Adults’ on our parish notice board. They provoked discussion, a bit of anger, but above all it helped us to reflect on who we were as a church, versus who we longed to be. I wonder if there are messages here for us. Here’s part one for comments and come-back. What do you think?
Ten Commandments for Churchgoing Adults
1) You shall love your children. Your children are part of the Church of to-day; they are not to be kept in cold storage for the Church of tomorrow. They have not been sent by the devil to distract you, but by God to enrich you.
2) You shall always remember that the friendship of children is as important for your own spiritual development as it is for the children’s well-being.
3) You shall encourage your children to worship with your congregation and value their presence in these gatherings. You shall be open to the possibility that God can speak to you through their smiles, their questions, their wriggling, and their responses.
4) You shall extend to your children a warm, personal and appropriate welcome when they come to worship.
5) You shall allow children to participate in the leadership of worship as frequently as practicable. However, you shall not make an undue fuss over their participation, nor exalt their contribution over that of other age-groups.
I’m going to have to wait and see what the next 5 commandments are. But these first five should give us all food for thought about acceptance in our church. We are blessed beyond measure by all those people who come into our church each week.
I was reminded of the chorus:
Whosoever will may come,
And who come to him shall never disappointed turn away;
Praise the Lord! ‘Tis whosoever.
Jesus was friend to the whosoever, and I pray that our attitudes, actions and words will show this as well, not out of a sensed duty, but because of love and a desire to see God’s kingdom grow.