Navigating Family Style Gatherings with Grace
As we move into a time where our church family will enjoy family style Gatherings for a season, we must train ourselves and our children to prepare to encounter a living God and joyfully respond with worship! I’m praying this time will usher us into a renewed time of Christ-centered worship and discipline in our homes that will spill over into our time of gathered, in-person worship. One of our 5 hopes at Greenbriar is to be a family equipping church. That is, we partner with parents to help them lead their kids to be learners and followers of Jesus! We typically pursue this hope by providing gospel-saturated Sunday morning environments for our children, but in this season we have the opportunity to focus on developing ourselves and our children further as worshipers.
During this time, we have 3 hopes for our church body as we continue to train our children to worship with us in a Gathering:
- That our children would worship God genuinely
- That parents would be able to worship
- That our fellow worshipers would not be distracted (but would be gracious no matter what!)
The Posture of Worshipers
Training our children to approach Sunday Gatherings with awe and reverence is a corporate effort! As the local body of Christ, we lay aside our individual pursuits so that we may worship God (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 6:16-19), nurture and build up believers to a greater maturity in faith (Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:12-13), and care for and evangelize those who are not yet believers in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 11:29). Our children are either believers who need nurturing in their faith OR they are not-yet-believers who need to experience the extraordinary blessing and mercy of the gathered church. Sundays are a great benefit to us but they are not solely for us. In this season may we embrace the purpose of the gathered church because small eyes are watching us all!
“Children feel the difference between duty and delight!”, John Piper once wrote as he shared how their church family navigated a shift to a family integrated worship gathering. If our kids watch men singing loudly and visibly enjoying this time set aside to worship God, eventually they will too. If the women are engaged while the Scriptures are being taught and stirred by prayer and shared communion, eventually our children will be as well. We get to train our children in the behavior we expect them to exhibit in a worship Gathering both explicitly and by our own example of worshipping heartily and listening eagerly. Over time our kids catch the attitude, the affection, the posture of those who love God and are ready to hear from Him. As you bring a reverent, and joy-filled spirit into a Sunday Gathering, our children will eventually follow.
Grace from fellow worshipers
If you do not have small children in this season of your life, this message is still for you! One way that you can serve your church family well in this transition time is to put the needs of families before your own desires for a quiet and studious service! We are all growing in grace right now, including our littlest worshipers. Children are full of energy and complexity as they navigate their new personhood. I encourage you to lay aside irritation towards any distraction they may create as they are learning to sit quietly in a Gathering. This is new for some of them and this is a time for them to practice a new skill. Invite the Holy Spirit to use difficult moments to reveal your own need for Christ. Pray for yourself. Pray for our littlest worshipers and for their parents. Jesus gives us a greater, purer and more loving perspective towards children than we naturally possess. Our littlest worshipers need time in corporate worship as well. Jesus saw the energy and enthusiasm that children are known for and was still abundantly tender towards them. May we follow his pattern in this and in every practice of life and godliness. We pray our children will one day follow Christ and glorify the Father in every aspect of their lives. We pray that every day until that day our children will have witnessed you, their church family, faithfully striving towards the same end with much joy and grace for all people!
A gospel reminder we need right now!
We are all feeling the strain of not gathering to worship in person for a prolonged period of time. We all long to gather. May we find hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ in these moments, brothers and sisters! May we remember that we are all broken sinners, separated from a glorious and good God. We are all in need of a Savior to bring us back into a right relationship with God. Daily, we need to turn to Christ as the only one sufficient to save us and sustain us. Weekly we will gather not to have our own needs met by a religious service but rather to humbly consider others as more important than ourselves and to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2). The good news of Jesus is that we don’t save ourselves or defeat death or even bring about order or change in our own lives. We receive the good work from Jesus which he accomplished for us on the cross. We can submit to God with joy and freedom in the life we have in Christ. This is where true worship begins.
We drew our encouragement and specific, helpful tips on
We have resources available to you on our Family Discipleship Resource page if you need ideas on establishing rhythms of discipleship or family worship at home.