Wow, you really are listening to my sermon!

When is it too early to ask a kid to “stay” for the sermon? I’ve served at churches which have had nothing for kids during the sermon. And I’ve served in places where they put an age limit (2nd graders stay in). I really wasn’t comfortable that age restriction, but I had to play by their policy.

On the flip side, I’ve also visited churches which give their middle school aged children a completely different service that is hip and cool.

One thing that I’ve learned is that when you reach families who have not been in a church setting before, it is a challenge for children of any age to sit through a 30 minute sermon.

At Harbor we provide our children up to 5th grade an opportunity to leave, even though our targeted age for the older children’s class is 2nd and 3rd grade.

The question parents most often ask themselves is, “Are they getting anything out of it?” I’m not sure that is necessarily THE right question to ask, but I do see it as a relevant question. And yes, I do think middle schoolers CAN get something out of it.

Last week I shared my struggle with depression with my neighbor, a youth who regularly attends Harbor. I explained that even after my wildest Pedro-esque dreams came true-the Bucs won the Super Bowl-I still went through some dark times. And not just me. Even Tom Brady felt a void after a pair of Super Bowl wins. And he responded, “Yeah, I remember you talking about him in your sermon.”

Wow. Even in the midst of regularly walking in and out at times of my sermon, something had stuck.

This Sunday all of the kids in the Christmas play had their practice during my sermon. But as I drove him home from the church picnic, he asked, “I missed your sermon; so what was it about?” So we talked about how a leader (elder/deacon) needs to be free from loving his possessions too much. Pretty cool and relevant stuff to him, as we connected possessions and their inability to really make us happy. And then he recounted what “Mrs. Amy” had told him about Christmas presents the previous year: the happiness derived from the gift itself never lasts very long. He was listening again!

I learned a few things yesterday

  • You never know how much kids, even middle schoolers, will remember from a sermon.
  • Much of teaching is informal and happens in the context of everyday relationships. Both are preaching, and personal interaction are necessary.
  • I need to do a better job and apply the messages directly to middle schoolers. They are listening. Amy I speaking TO them?

It was a good day.


2 thoughts on “Wow, you really are listening to my sermon!

  1. …encouraging for adults to know that middle schoolers are also listening. Some of those lessons stick with us for the rest of our lives.

  2. We don’t give (even very young) children enough credit. Long time ago a worker in our nursery was amazed that our 2yo son could learn “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Children are always listening; that explains the saying, “Little pitchers have big ears.” IOW, be careful what you say: they’ll hear and most likely repeat.

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