This story first appeared in the Association of Christian Reformed Educators (ACRE) e-newsletter, August 2009. The newsletter is available at www.church-educators.blogspot.com. Check out the website for more resources on milestones and discussions related to church education.
Each Sunday, just before the sermon, my pastor calls the children forward to pray for them before they are dismissed to go downstairs for children’s worship. But last week, something special happened. The congregation celebrated a milestone in Taylor’s life.
As the kids gathered up front, I went forward with them. The pastor handed me a microphone, and I told the congregation that Taylor was now at the age when she would be staying upstairs to listen to the pastor’s sermons.
I gave her a very cool notebook with a pen attached and a note inside. Then I told her that this was a milestone in her life—she was now ready to listen and learn along with the older children, teens, and adults as the pastor shares a message from the Bible.
I also let her know that we were glad she had heard God’s stories downstairs, and that we were eager to see her enjoy the sermons upstairs. “It reminds me,” I said, “of the story of Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem because he was eager to sit at the feet of the teachers in the temple as they shared God’s Word.” After saying a few more words about that, we prayed as a congregation for Taylor—that she would continue to be eager to hear God’s Word and grow in faith.
The whole celebration took only about two minutes, but they were an important two minutes! Not only for Taylor, but for the younger children who were standing next to Taylor, knowing that soon they too would be sitting with Taylor, listening to the pastor’s sermons upstairs.
The celebration also challenged the whole church to think about whether we are eager to hear God’s Word each week. Are we excited that kids in early elementary school are sitting with us in the pew, being shaped by God? That God is at work among us?
Marking faith milestones is a meaningful practice in the life of a congregation—it draws us near to God with grateful hearts and nearer to one another as well. It helps us see that we share in this journey of faith, and that our God is always calling us in new directions along that journey!