(This entry is part of an ongoing collection of blogs that examine the future of congregations post-COVID19. Each entry forms itself around a question looking for clarity or even answers.)
Sometimes hope comes at me shyly, quietly. Asking for just a moment’s attention so that I don’t get hijacked by despair. That happened for me one recent Sunday in worship.
From my seat near the front of the sanctuary, I noticed something odd: A single Cheerio™ on the floor under the pew in front of me. My curiosity aroused, I started imagining why that little O-shaped item was there. (It also occurred to me that there might be a lesson about the future of the church that I might draw from this single Cheerio.)
Having been a Cheerio-toting parent for years, I guessed that this item likely signaled the presence of a child at the earlier service. A wise mother or father had brought along this healthy snack as one way to keep that young child occupied during the service. Seated at the front of the sanctuary, that child was able to participate in the worship from close up. A good place to take in all that was happening.
From that observation—a small sign, but still a sign—I found tangible hope about what will be true for our congregation in the years to come.
There will be wise parents who want their small children to learn and experience the worship of God as fully as possible. These parents will care about their children’s spiritual development in other ways as well–Cheerios as a sure sign of more to come! These youngsters will engage in other parts of the congregation’s life. The Church will be present—perhaps central—in the lives of families like these. Our church’s children will have faith. Faith—this congregation–will have children. Parents and families, too!
This coming Sunday, I will look for other (small) signs of hope for the Church….
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