This article by Tanya Eustance first appeared in Romans 12, a publication of Discipleship Ministries, on October 2, 2015, in hopes that other churches would hold Children's Sabbath services in their own worship setting. You can view the original article here.
Let the Children Lead
“There are many ways that I have experienced God in my life. . . One of the biggest ways is through sharing stories of God with others and hearing their stories as well.”
These words, spoken by a sixth grader at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, grabbed the attention of the worshiping congregation as this child delivered the morning’s sermon. Challenging the congregation to share their God stories, this child reminded all who were worshiping that day:
As the community gathered together, they were reminded how God calls all people, equips all with specific gifts, and sends all out to spread the good news, make disciples, and build the kingdom. This holy work is required of all people, no matter their age. On this holy day, God moved in and through children, youth, and adults, using their gifts to bring words of prayer, thanksgiving, encouragement, challenge, hope, and love, calling the congregation forth in their work as disciples in and for the kingdom of God.
Child-led worship is not a new practice at Forest Hills, nor is it something they do only one day out of the year. Instead, this congregation invites all of God’s children to use their gifts in the church, the community, and the world every day and in every service. It is in this intentional place where children discover how they are called and equipped to lead.
As the congregation flowed out of the sanctuary at the end of worship on that particular day in 2014, words of encouragement were offered to the children who served as worship leaders. Through affirming ministry, where all people are called to participate, we are indeed making disciples for Jesus Christ, creating vital congregations, and ensuring that our children not only bring God’s message to the world today, but tomorrow, and over the many years to come.