Dear Church Parents,

I took this photo last night (when I was supposed to be shooting a wide shot of the church sanctuary, sorry pastor) of three generations of ladies sitting in church - the newest of these peeking over the back of the seat at me.

When her little eyes came over the top of that pew, I felt my mind being transported back to 4 year old me. White shoes and socks with lace bunched up around my ankles. Plaid dress with a stiff white square collar. Hair combed and sprayed and still out of place from my thrashing around in the car. Feeling my arms get heavy from holding a hymnal. Craning to see over the pew in front of me. Sunday school papers crinkled from my little fingers gripping them tightly, making sure I had something to show my parents and grandparents, anticipating the oohs and ahhs and hugs I was sure to earn.

I remember. I remember the nice old man who gave me peppermints, and trying to open them quietly so the wrappers wouldn’t crinkle.

I remember. I remember flipping through thin, delicate pages to try to find the referenced text. J-O-H-N. I knew a verse in John already, John 3:16.

I remember. I remember copying the verses that were read during the service onto my little notebooks - mimicking the letters in big, clumsy scrawl.

I saw myself as a sinner in need of God for the first time when I was just about her size. Looking over the pews. Looking for a purpose. Looking for answers to my thousands of little questions. Looking for the truth.

Full transparency: I’ve never been a parent. Parents, I have no idea what you’re going through on Sunday’s... and probably, neither do your babies.

But please take them to church. I’ve not been on your side... but I’ve been a kid who was taken to church before - a kid who learned by observing, challenged everything, and who wouldn’t have understood inconsistency as anything more than a lack of importance.

I’ve been a kid who didn’t have to ask if mommy and daddy were going to church, because when I was growing up, serving the Lord was a priority above all else.

I’ve been a kid who was trained to do the ONE THING that I will get to do for all eternity: worship.

Because of that, I was able to accept Christ at a young age and have Him walk with me through some very formative times.

I was saved from any kind of life other than the life God has given me, when I was just about this little.

As a church member, seeing moms and dads rock their babies reminds me that Gods family includes all ages too. The preschoolers who mimic their elders by raising their innocent little hands remind me to worship God without regard to who is watching.

Our elderly, who pat little heads and hand out candy are painting a beautiful picture of one generation calling to the next.

I know we are all busy. I know kids are messy and rowdy and people give you dirty looks when they act up. I know church is full of hypocrites, because I go to church and I’m still a sinner. I know you’re tired.

Please take them to church anyway.