Last weekend, young and old worshipped together for the first time at the Family Service.
Contributed By Wong Chock Fang
It was an unusually rowdy weekend at City Harvest Church. On April 2 and 3, whole families headed into the main worship hall on Level 6 of Suntec Singapore. It was the church’s first family worship weekend: children, parents and grandparents could, for once, worship together in the same hall, instead of splitting up into the nursery, children’s church and the main auditorium.
Friendly mascots—an “Elmo-looking” monster, a red “Barney”, a panda, a bunny—greeted children and posed for endless photos, plus served as cheerleaders during praise and worship. Before service began, there was even a game, Chores Challenge, which pitted families against each other in a household chore—the fastest family to dress their child up with the clothes provided.
For many church members, the family-friendly arrangement was a welcome change. And the young were involved in the different segments of the service as much as the adults were.
WORSHIP ACROSS GENERATIONS
To the delight of many, the children’s worship team shared the stage with the adult worship team to lead praise and worship. Watching the young singers in action—Joie Teo leading praise, and Gabriela Latip leading worship with calm confidence—was truly a testament of their God-given talents, now being harnessed for His glory. Even more heartwarming was the sight of parents holding their children’s hands, and multi-generational families worshiping Jesus in one accord.
Children completely took over Harvest Highlights, the video announcement segment of service. The four pre-teens were more than worthy replacements of their adult counterparts: they were not only articulate, but their confidence and innocence drew impressed cheers, claps and guffaws throughout the hall.
Alex Pang, 38, a greeter at Sunday’s service said, “I am really impressed with the talent in these young ones. From leading praise and worship to wonderfully enunciated announcements, there’s definitely a future for CHC to look forward to!” Pang was also very happy to “entertain” the babies and toddlers he encountered while on duty.
FROM BABES TO TEENS
Last weekend also saw the first Baby Dedication of the year—the pastors blessed 131 babies on stage. It was a sight to behold: the many parents held their precious ones up for a group shot. For many of these families, this occasion also drew family members who were new to church to witness the ceremony.
It was a momentous day for Marco Lee, 34, and Wendy Chua, 31, proud parents of 7-month-old Ranice, who was dedicated to God at the service. “We’ve been waiting to dedicate Ranice to God ever since she was born. The Baby Dedication was a special moment for us as we long to see her grow under the covering of the Lord’s protection. Ranice is learning to love the house of God and can even listen to the preaching of the Word attentively now.”
As if to offer a preview of what these babies will one day become, five lovely teenage girls, the CCH singers, performed a beautiful song “Thank You (For Giving to the Lord)”, to honor the teachers from City Harvest’s Children’s Church. Former CCH kids, now all grown up and thriving, gave testimony of how their lives were touched and changed for the better by a Children’s Church teacher. As the song ended, senior pastor Kong Hee led the congregation in a standing ovation to thank the pastors, teachers and volunteers for serving in CHC’s children’s ministry.
THE PRODIGALl SON RETOLD
Kong gave a sermon on the story of the prodigal son—a tale of God’s love that was familiar to both children and adults. To keep the children’s attention (and the adults), the sermon was accompanied by colorful comic-book style illustrations of the story.
Kong asked the question, “Why did the prodigal son run away?” and offered prizes to the first 10 children who ran up to answer the question. The answers from some of these young ones were as surprising as they were entertaining. “Because he had a lot of homework to do,” suggested one boy solemnly. When the senior pastor asked a second question: “Why did the son come back?” he was inundated by kids racing up the stage. “Because he forgave his father,” was the sage reply from a little one.
To close, Kong recapped the three points of his sermon on the importance of family, both physical and spiritual. The family is first of all a shelter from the storms of life. It is a place where one can hear, hug, help and give hope to one another. Secondly, the family is a learning center, which helps one to grow from a life of dependence on family and self, to one that is totally dependant on God. Finally, Kong reminded everyone to cultivate a fun and enjoyable environment in their family life and create memories to be cherished.
When Kong gave an altar call, the altar area was quickly filled as young and old alike responded to God. It was a time of rejoicing for many CHC members who had been praying for the salvation of their loved ones and friends.
By the end of the service, CHC members were already asking when the next family service was going to be.
Jane Lim, 32, a relationship manager at a foreign bank and mother of two young kids, said, “The service exceeded my expectations, with the thoughtful kid’s gift pack, and the interactive sermon preached by Pastor Kong, which generated active participation from the children. I was also very impressed by the Kids’ Band leading praise and worship, and could sense the love of God in the hall. I thoroughly enjoyed the service with my family and hope to have such family services more often.”
For Jenny Lim, 38, an office manager, the family service allowed her some rare quality time with her cell group. “I’m doing my MBA now, which leaves me little time to fellowship with my cell members. This time the parents didn’t need to rush off to pick up their kids, so we could talk. CHC should have a Family Service at least once a month because we are a family!”
The children felt the same way. Nine-year-old Ron Ng is the resident guitarist in the Kids’ Band and was thrilled to perform on stage with the adult band—a privilege he practiced daily for.
Perhaps Teo Poh Heng and his daughter Joie best exemplified the family theme: father and daughter led the congregation in praise together, both dressed in red-and-black stripes. The sight of them called to mind the Bible verse, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”