The Sunday Plan
By Gerry Straker, 27 Aug 2021
In my previous post, I shared how at Church by the Bay we want to use this opportunity that God has given us after these difficult 18 months to think through how we do Church. We don't want to go back to normal, we want to go forward in battle!
The leaders at Church by the Bay have been thinking longing and hard and praying about how we might do Sunday mornings - the centrpiece of our Church life, and highlght of the week - differently. And so from September 2021 we are changing how we structure our time together:
- CHURCH all together for around an hour. Church with everyone there, from the younget to the oldest.
- Followed by COFFEE tea and treats
- Followed by TEACHING: C3 kids, C3 tots and C3 youth and adults: Sunday school for everyone!
An unexpected blessing – often unacknowledged - of lockdown was the whole family of God, worshipping and hearing from God Himself all together. This is something we don’t want to lose. We want to improve it, but we don’t want to lose it.
We would like the whole Church family to commit to this as the whole morning goes together. Here are the rough timings to give you an idea:
- 10:00 Refreshments and time together
- 10:30 Church together
- 11:30 Refreshments and time together
- 11:50 Teaching time in different groups for C3 tots (preschoolers), C3 kids (primary school age) and C3 youth and C3 adults together. [C3 stands for Cherish, Church, Change: read more about our vision here].
12:30 Finish and clear up
As you'd expect, these timings may be tweaked as we go.
Why are we welcoming children into Church?
This is a change from what we were doing pre-Covid. Why do we want to make the changes? Here is the short version:
- What Church is
We worship God with all of our lives, and we especially worship when we gather to receive from him first (in the Word and the Lord’s Supper) and second give to him our praise and prayer on Sunday mornings. There, we join the heavenly worshippers (Hebrews 12:22) to do what we were created for as humans, what we were saved for by Christ, and wlll enjoy in eternity: gathering round the throne of God to worship Him.
- What Preaching is
The preaching is the centre of our time together on Sundays and preaching is a ‘means of grace’ – God is at work among his people in a special way and we don’t want children to miss out on this!
- Where children stand
Jesus said ‘Let the little children come to me.’ The children of a believer are to be treated as in the people of God, and because children are to be treated as among God’s people, we want them to receive all the blessings of gathering together, and most of all to hear the Word of God with the rest of God’s people.
What Church is, what preaching is and where children stand, mean that we think this is a really good thing – not just for children, not just for families, but for the whole Church.
We also think age appropriate Bible teaching is a good thing! So as well as Church together we will also have teaching time in different age groups on Sunday mornings.
With this will come, we pray, a host of blessings and privileges including but not limited to:
- Little children get the truth revealed to them by God at the same special time as the rest of the Church family.
- The pastor and other preachers teach the whole Church family directly.
- Together the whole Church hears God speak to us and together we grow.
- It is a joyful statement to each other and the world of who we are in Christ together as His body. It teaches the children and the adults that children belong, and the importance of hearing God speak.
- We get to serve one another and encourage one another in lots of new ways – for example; the encouragement of seeing parents teaching their children (including the difficult mornings!); and seeing and hearing children engage more and more over time.
- Children get to watch their parents and the Church listen to the Word, as well as seeing them engage with the rest of the meeting.
- Children will enjoy the follow-up teaching on the same Bible passage at C3 kids and C3 tots.
- Families can continue the teaching at home during the week.
We understand that for parents with small children, this might be hard sometimes (!) but we think these blessings and benefits will mean it is well worth it. We also have a number of things to help parents help their children learn to listen to the Word of God on Sunday morning - we are in this together..
Please join us in prayer for the Church at this time of change.
More teaching on this and also practical helps to follow soon on our Church Blog.