Lent Is Not Just for Grown-Ups at FUMCFW

By February 24, 2016Children's Ministries, Lent

Mark Burrows“Kids need more, and want more, than rainbows and butterflies . . . We want to nurture a faith that is real and will last their entire lives.”

— Mark Burrows, Director of Children’s Ministries

Children love rainbows and butterflies. (Don’t we all?) On top of being pretty, they are even more special because you don’t get to see them every day. Children are also curious by nature. Hence their never-ending question: “Why?” Even more than seeing they exist, children want to know why, and the answer fascinates them. (Chances are they will throw yet another “why” or two in there for good measure.) Just as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, or sun and rain combine to create a rainbow, the children of FUMCFW are growing — in size, faith, and more.

The first year we had an Ash Wednesday service for children was in 2011. Mark Burrows, Director of Children’s Ministries (a.k.a. Mister Mark), was front and center with one adult helper, Debbie Shrauner, and six kids in the Children’s Wing Atrium. Two years later, a larger group prompted a move to the children’s art room. In 2014, our Children’s Ash Wednesday service in the Chapel had a solid turnout. This year we switched to an earlier start time, provided a meal beforehand, and now we have outgrown the Chapel and moved to Wesley Hall with around 150 people in attendance.

Lindsay Childs, one of the parents at the dinner and service, points out that Ash Wednesday isn’t typically a day when churches see an influx of young children. She says the dinner in Wesley Hall before the service was a wonderful time of fellowship, allowing new and old friends to meet and mingle after a day of work and school. “I think the parents of First Church Fort Worth see the value in sharing sacred traditions, such as Ash Wednesday, with their children,” Lindsay adds. “But it is more than just going to church; these services give us a safe place to teach our children WHY we worship and WHY we have these traditions. Kudos to Mark and his team for continuing to provide the families of our congregation the opportunity to worship together and become closer to God.”

foot-washing-childrenFUMCFW’s Holman family in the foot-washing portion of our special Maundy Thursday service tuned especially to children.

Lent is a time to focus on ourselves and our relationship with God — to prepare ourselves for the coming of Easter — and it’s not just for grown-ups. “One of the things I’m always telling people is that kids need more, and want more, than rainbows and butterflies,” Mister Mark says. “Services like Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday give us a chance to help children go deep with their faith development. We want to nurture a faith that is real and will last their entire lives.”

This year at the Ash Wednesday Service, children gathered in the Chapel to sing songs, participate in many different forms of prayer, and receive the imposition of ashes as they learned about Ash Wednesday and its significance. Our special kid-friendly service tackles the question: “Why Do We Get Ashes On Our Heads?” This is something children are likely to have wondered (and maybe even some parents as well). As Lindsay describes it, the service was packed full of families worshipping together and talking openly about Lent and the meaning behind the ashes we receive. “Each family knelt at the altar and experienced this sacred tradition together — from the tiniest of babies to grandparents,” she recalls. “The message is the same because the tradition is the same, but our wonderful Children’s Ministry team helped frame the service so it could be enjoyed by young and old.”

Brandi Luig, another parent at the service, feels the same way. For her family, it is about being able to worship with their children, and she says the service is prepared for children — but not so much so that the adults can’t get meaning out of it as well. As Brandi puts it, if both parents are able to receive the same message as their kids, it helps them stay connected with their children and their faith. “We aren’t being taught one thing in regular service while our children are taught a different version in their service,” she explains. “Now we can all practice the prayers and moments of faith together, and that is truly important to us.”

Lindsay also points out that giving the children items to hold and touch throughout the service allowed them to use multiple senses in their worship experience. “Mister Mark does a wonderful job as always keeping the children engaged and providing interactive teaching,” Brandi agrees. “He knows how to take the stories and recreate them in a way that the kids can easily identify with.”

Services like the one on Ash Wednesday will help the children of FUMCFW spread their wings and reach new heights over the rainbow of their faith. If you’d like to come and see what it’s all about — or if you know other families with children who might enjoy this unique opportunity to share important Lenten worship experiences together, two more special children’s services are coming up this season of Lent — Maundy Thursday and Good Friday:

Children’s Maundy Thursday Dinner & Service

Thursday, March 24
5:30 pm | Dinner | Room 350
6:15 pm | Worship | Leonard Memorial Chapel
“What Does Maundy Mean?”

In this unique Maundy Thursday service for children, kids will experience a foot washing ritual, receive Communion, and hear the Bible story as they walk with Jesus on his final night. Donations for dinner are accepted but not required.

Children’s Good Friday Dinner & Service

Friday, March 25
5:30 pm | Dinner | Justin Building, Asbury Room
6:15 pm | Worship | Wesley Hall
“Why Do We Call It Good?”

In this very thoughtful Good Friday children’s service, we encourage families to experience together one of the most important, yet challenging, stories of our faith. Offering this story in child-appropriate ways, through scripture and shadow theatre, this service presents the story of Jesus’ final day. Children will receive prayer cords, and families will sing and pray together in this powerful yet peaceful evening service. Donations for dinner are accepted but not required. 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

A major story about a rising trend toward offering Children’s Holy Week services recently appeared in the United Methodist Communications online news — and featured our very own FUMCFW Children’s Holy Week services! Click here to read all about it.

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