Family weekend is a great time to expose to our young children certain elements of worship that they may not normally participate in. This includes The Lord's Supper, the giving of our tithes and offerings, and to some degree the preaching of certain themes in Scripture. The following sections are meant to help our parents of young children thoughtfully consider how to best participate in, and plan for, our Family Integrated worship on November 4th.
The Lord's Supper
This celebrated event signifies important spiritual realities. Our participation in The Lord's Supper is one of the ways people who have faith in Jesus remember and enjoy the blessings of His grace. For that reason, we remind all parents that children who have yet to be baptized and profess genuine faith in Jesus should not partake.
This does not mean that there is no benefit to our yet-to-believe children during the Supper. On the contrary, it's a beautiful thing to demonstrate to our young children the importance and substance in this meal. As God's people partake in this meal, we proclaim the gospel to one another and point our children to the hope of salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. It also becomes a wonderful opportunity for further conversations with the youngest members of our church family.
If you are uncertain if your child has expressed genuine faith in Jesus (trust in Christ, repentance of sin, and rest in the gospel), then it is best to not have them participate in the meal. In addition, I, Pastor Pete, and any other elder would love to help shepherd you and your family through these wonderful conversations with your children.
The Giving of Our Gifts
Another intentional moment of participation is the giving of our financial gifts during the worship service. We remind our congregation that the giving of our gifts is not only a biblical act of worship commanded in Scripture but also a clear demonstration of our sacrificial love for God, love for others, and love for the ministry of the church. We encourage you to prepare to make this an intentional time of participation with your young children. Talk to them beforehand about why we give (All that we have is a gift from God. He instructs us to give as an act of obedient stewardship and participation in the advancement of the gospel in the world. It's one way we show our love for others and sharing of what we have.) Consider giving each of your children a dollar bill to put in the offering plate during the service as a physical act of modeling and training of their faith.
Sermon: Violence in the Bible
We will continue in our teaching series through 1 Samuel for Family Weekend and our text brings us to 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. This is a common story to adults and children alike. However, if you read the story you will notice that it is very violent and graphic. David and Goliath threaten one another with obscene language, David kills Goliath, cuts off his head, and parades around with his severed head. The dialogue between David and Goliath is also graphic and obscene. This brings us to an important topic of consideration: "How do we teach the violent parts of the Bible to our children?" There are three possible approaches discussed below.
- The first approach is to avoid the violent parts, altogether. I've read children's bibles and books that omit certain stories like Cain killing Abel in Genesis 4, the flood in Genesis 6 and David killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
- The second approach is to just tell the meaning of the story in paraphrase, still avoiding the violent parts.
- The third approach is to faithfully tell stories in the bible to our children in ways that focus on the main point without denying or being distracted by the violent elements.
The first two approaches avoid violent themes in the bible and we think that's not always helpful. Violence in the Bible shows us how bad our sin is and what our sin leads to. Our children encounter violence in our sin-filled world through bullying, terrorism, and war. Eventually, the fallen world will confront them and they will need to see the brightness of the gospel against the backdrop of dark sin.
Finally, to pass over the violent parts in the Bible is to pass over the most important story in the Bible--and the most gruesome of all--the cross of Jesus. Our Bible dedicates dozens of verses to Jesus' gruesome crucifixion for good reason--sin is ugly but God's grace is beautiful.
We commit to walking a discerning line with you as we cover biblical stories that include violence. Our aim is to faithfully tell the story without being distracted by the violence. On Sunday, November 4th, we will be teaching an abbreviated sermon through 1 Samuel 17:33-45, 48-49 which includes the reading of David killing Goliath. I will skip the parts where David threatens to cut off his head and stop before he actually does. I'll focus mainly on the wickedness of Goliath, the faith of David, and the faithfulness of God to rescue his people.