My daughter turned nine last Sunday.
On the cusp of pre-adolescence, she is quickly moving out of the carefree, inhibition-free naïveté of childhood, and is suddenly and relentlessly preoccupied with other people. Especially girls a few years older than her.
We can be in a large crowd of people, downtown or at a sporting event, and her attention is fully on the people around us. In the grocery store. At the library. At a restaurant. She is constantly watching people and observing their behavior.
So I, too, have begun paying attention to the people around us. I watch who she watches. Then at night, she and I can talk about who we saw and what we noticed.
It was in this context that I realized as a mom, I LOVE what our church is intentionally modeling for my kids.
Any Given Sunday
This past Sunday, as we walked into church, we were greeted at the door by a boy about Cara’s age. He stood there holding the door for us and as we walked by, offered us a smile and a shy “good morning.”
Then as we entered through the double doors, we were again greeted by another student standing near the welcome desk. Next we stopped at Cara’s new fourth grade classroom. Through the door were a couple teenage girls volunteering along with the adult lead.
We headed down the hall to drop our son off, and along the way, we were passed by two more young students pushing (okay …racing) carts of supplies towards the elementary rooms, laughing together as they bumped into each other.
In my son’s classroom, two other students, a brother and sister (twins obvs) were volunteering. (Apparently it takes a strong and cohesive volunteer unit for a classroom full of 7-year-old boys.)
Next, we headed down to the Gathering Place where we saw one of our PRiSM students being trained at the coffee bar. We walked by another student handing out bulletins, and once we settled into our seats and the service began, we were lead in worship by a recent high school graduate.
And as we joined in the worship, here is what I realized:
I’m SO thankful that my kids are seeing teenagers serving at church. That it is a normal, everyday occurrence at Pulpit Rock for a teenager to give her time to serve as a greeter in “big church” or lead worship for the younger kids in The Grove. That my son sees teen boys down on their knees, tying the shoes of the kindergarteners or sitting at the back of the Student Center in the sound booth, learning the ins and outs of a complex A/V system. These things are normal around this place and my kids are seeing that. That is a part of what “church” is to them.
There’s A Place For You
Our Generation team created and recently implemented a model of student ministry centered on regular service and helping students develop an intentional focus on God and others. (As opposed to the typical teenage self-focus.) The program changes were not made lightly and were the result of months of prayer and planning.
Because of this change, now my impressionable kids are seeing a world where everyone, of all ages, has an important role to play in church. Because of the example being set by our students, my kids will not only know that service should be a part of their teenage years, but that they actually have a specific role to fill at church each Sunday.
They have a place at Pulpit Rock Church and as a body of believers, we need them. (I can’t even imagine what this message might do for their self-image.)
Since our first visit, my husband and I have felt strongly that we are meant to be at Pulpit Rock. The community is unmatched and has at times been our lifeline. When we had babies, the excellent Nursery and Kids Min program became a big part of that why.
Now, as our kids approach their teenage years, and all the drama and angst and heartache that entails, and as I see the enormous influence that this church is having on them, there is literally no place we’d rather them grow up than right here.