The Safety of Our Children

Mark BurrowsHello Families,

I wanted to let you know that starting this Sunday we will not bring the children into the Sanctuary for the Children’s Moment.

Instead, we will have the Children’s Moment in the new gathering space in the Children’s Wing.

From there they will go to their rotations within the Children’s Wing.

The transition from the Children’s Wing to the Sanctuary has been a safety and security concern for some time now.

But with the numbers we are seeing, the risk of losing a child — our biggest fear — is much greater. We need to be proactive, rather than reactive.

And it’s your continued trust in us that is a major factor in our consistent growth. We want to make sure we do everything we can to be worthy of that trust.

Our Children’s Council looked at a number of possibilities. There was an earnest effort to find a way for things to continue as they are currently, with tweaks.

But we ultimately all came to the same realization that we can’t keep bringing this many children out of a secure area and pretend there isn’t a risk.

This new temporary plan (yes, temporary — more on that below) will allow us to:

• Keep a solid head count.
• Have parents sign out children rather than pull them out of line.
• Keep all the children in the secured area until their responsible grown-up arrives.
• Check in new arrivals in an orderly way rather than having them simply sent to us in the Sanctuary.
• Give the first rotations 5 – 10 minutes of additional time since they would only have to come down the Children’s Wing hallway rather than downstairs to a different part of the building.
• Give the second rotations a more dependable start time. Right now it all depends on when/where the Children’s Moment occurs in worship and how long it takes us to get that many children back to the Children’s Wing.

OK, so while this addresses safety/security concerns, it raises a new one.

If you’re reading this and thinking — “Mark, what does this mean for the worship life of my child?” — we’re on the same page here.

A once-a-month Children First service isn’t going to cut it. That’s why holding the Children’s Moment in the Children’s Wing is only a temporary solution.

I want to get those kids back in the Sanctuary as soon as possible. And regardless of what I or anyone else thinks, I believe God wants those children worshipping with the whole community of faith. They belong in the Sanctuary just like anybody else.

I recently returned from an eight-week renewal leave. I spent the majority of my time exploring ways to engage children within a traditional worship context. I attended 10 different worship experiences at eight churches and learned a lot! But what I learned out in the field pales in comparison to what I have learned (and continue to learn) from you.

So with that in mind, I have three questions. Even if you think your answer is “self-evident” or “obvious,” please share through this survey. What may seem obvious to you might just be the spark we need to keep all this moving forward.

1. What do you value most about your own worship experiences here at FUMCFW?
2. Can you remember a profound worship experience from your childhood? (It can be something that happened each week, or a one-time experience that’s always stayed with you.)
3. What aspect of worship helps your child feel closest to God? (Yes, I definitely want the input of our kids.)

Thank you for your ideas, for your understanding, and for believing in us enough to hand us your little ones each week. We take that very seriously.

Mark

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