As you may have heard by now, the wait is over. Mister Mark Burrows and his Children’s Ministries team have united with our FUMCFW Sanctuary Worship team to bring the children back into our 11:00 am traditional worship service each Sunday morning.
Now wait. Before you start thinking about what this is and isn’t going to be — and whether you’re a parent of wigglers or someone who likes your quiet during traditional worship — let us be the first to tell you how this extremely thoughtful transition will accommodate the needs, interests, and worship styles of all concerned.
There is more — much more — to this transition than simply encouraging families with children to come to 11:00 am worship. Beginning September 10, children who come with their parents to the 11:00 am Sanctuary worship service will have special accommodations to keep them occupied and help them engage in worship, right alongside their parents and other adults. “This is so much more than asking our children to sit quietly, suck on a lifesaver, doodle in the bulletin margins, and try not to wiggle,” Mister Mark says. (There was also something about pinching, but we’re not going to perpetuate that sort of thing.)
This collaboration will put what we now understand about how people experience and express their faith behind creating a gentle transition over the next several months to bring families together for weekly worship. By weaving these special accommodations into the fabric of our 11:00 am Sanctuary worship, we will hold on to the traditions we so cherish while engaging the children we so cherish. Mister Mark elaborates, “This really is going to be a service of traditional worship WITH some special accommodations that will make the Word of God more accessible to young ones (and possibly some not-so-young ones, too!) in meaningful new ways.”
Senior Associate Pastor & Associate Pastor of Worship Rev. Linda McDermott agrees it’s important for everyone to understand that this transition isn’t about wedging children into an adult service — or adults into a children’s service. “This is a completely new and sensitive approach to help engage everyone in worship,” she says.
“We have really missed the kids at 11:00,” adds Senior Pastor Dr. Tim Bruster. “Every week someone has asked me, ‘When are the children going to be back with us in worship?’ I’m so pleased that we’ve worked out a solution that makes it possible for all of us to worship together.”
This transition will also directly address safety and security concerns in a very positive way: “What makes it possible to bring the kids back is having our parents bring their children to church with them,” Mister Mark explains. “While it isn’t safe for our Children’s Ministries staff to be responsible for taking 80 children outside our secured Children’s Wing, it is not only safe but also very positive for parents to bring their children to church, sit with them throughout the service, and worship alongside them. It’s a win for the kids, a win for families, and a win for our church.”
My husband and I just started attending FUMCFW with our children five weeks ago. We chose to visit FUMCFW specifically because the website conveyed that children are an obvious priority. We were looking for an outstanding children’s ministry, and we feel that we certainly found it.
We attended the Children First service this morning, so we were able to hear Mister Mark announce the changes that are planned for September. We also went to the Q&A session to find out more.
Daniel and I realize that the church staff is likely to receive some negative feedback, as it naturally would with any big change, so we wanted to make sure we offered our encouragement, for what it’s worth. I already wanted for us to become members, but Daniel is slower to adapt to change and wanted to give it some more time. After today’s announcement, he definitely wants us to join right away.
Daniel and I have thoroughly enjoyed attending the traditional services each week, visiting a couple of classes, and sitting in on a beautifully moving Communion service a couple of weeks ago. Our kids are our highest priority when it comes to attending church, so we have been pleased every Sunday to leave with joyful, talkative kids, all singing church songs throughout the week. Our youngest daughter, Olive, is blind and developmentally delayed. She spent more than her first two years in a Chinese orphanage and has only been home for eight months. Some of our other children were adopted from the foster system and have anxiety in new situations. Every one of our kids has been welcomed, and their needs have been lovingly accommodated.
Daniel and I are both eagerly anticipating the shift in September — sending our children off to well-planned, organized, and effective Sunday School classes and choir (three of ours are in choir so far), and ALSO having the opportunity to worship with them in a family-friendly service. There truly is no children’s program like yours in the area, unless it is a hidden gem at a small church that I overlooked. I systematically perused every church website from Haslet, to South Fort Worth, to Euless, to Saginaw, and East Fort Worth before we chose to visit FUMCFW. The other church we wanted to try was attractive to us because of the special needs ministry listed on their website, but that was the only area of concern we had at FUMCFW. Lamar Smith called the day after we first visited FUMCFW and I asked about special needs assistance for Olive. Mister Mark called me minutes later and assured me that not only would her needs be met, but that we need not keep searching for a church. It was funny to me that he said that, but as it happens, we actually never even stepped foot anywhere else because you just have such a stellar program that my children didn’t want to try another one. We didn’t either. We love the atmosphere, the music, and the sermons. Mister Mark followed through and made arrangements to assign one-on-one care for our daughter for the very next Sunday so that she could be with her age group. The fact that children are so important at FUMCFW that you are all working toward a truly family-centered, engaging, multisensory worship experience that aims to reach children of all learning types WITHOUT sacrificing the fantastic children’s classes you already have in place is just the best thing we have heard. We were torn, honestly — afraid for them to miss any of the wonderful things your kids’ program offered, but also wanting to share our worship experience with them. This is just so exciting! Mister Mark shared some of the items that we might see in the children’s backpacks, and your team just hit the needs of every single one of our seven very different children. Bravo!
We will be praying for the transition and for the congregation to have open hearts to the beautiful, valuable presence of its youngest members.
Thank you so much for the love you are showing to the little ones at FUMCFW.