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Monday, November 10, 2008

When you can see that they get it

When we moved to Virginia in the summer of 2004, we had an extremely difficult time finding a new church home. We loved our church in Texas so much and therefore had some pretty high and specific expectations. Many were “negotiable.” Some were not.

One of the things that was a “non-negotiable” for us was not only a welcoming spirit toward children at the church with programming for them, but also in the worship service itself. There were many churches we visited where we just sensed that our child would not be welcome in the worship service.

Let me explain.

I sense that there is a movement among many churches to have a separate “Children’s Church” away from the adults. While I can see the usefulness of such a program in certain situations, it is not something that Mike and I are interested in for our children. We believe that we are the ones best suited to teach our children what corporate worship is all about. And that is best done with them at our side on Sunday mornings in the worship service.

At the time of our move, Sarah was 3 ½ and we were already beginning to introduce her to our corporate worship service. So, imagine my surprise when at one church in Virginia, (which will remain unnamed) we were told that we really weren’t supposed to bring our child into the worship service. But, if we did, we were expected to sit behind a certain area. Not up closer to the front where the child is more likely to be able to pay attention and stay engaged… NOOO… let’s shove all the kids to the back where they’ll likely be more disruptive.

But I’m not bitter or anything.

Not me.

Needless to say, we never returned to that church. And I wrote a letter to the pastor. I’m still waiting for a reply… four years later.

I read a book several years ago, entitled Parenting in the Pew, when we were starting on this journey with Sarah. It not only helped me form some of my opinions on the subject, but also gave me some wonderful guidance as what exactly to do. How the rubber meets the road kind of thing.

Much of the author’s point (from what I remember), and where I completely agree with her, is that our children need us as parents to guide them in what corporate worship is. They need to see and experience things like baptisms and the Lord’s Supper with their parents. They need to see their parents worshipping the Most High God.

There is no better teacher my children have than me because God has given that responsibility to me as the parent. Period.

We are several years into the teaching process with Sarah and just embarking on the journey with Nathan now that he is three. It can be extremely frustrating at times. And then there are times like this morning.

I sat with my children on either side of me. We were sitting at the Lord’s table together, as a family. Sarah gently helped me hold my communion cup. Nathan, the inquisitive three year old, grilled his dad on what everything was with question upon question.

And then, as we stood in prayer at one point, my sweet seven year old daughter dropped to her knees in prayer.

And I thank my Savior that I was the one next to her to bear witness that in the Holy Spirit’s leading, she is getting it.

She is getting it.

5 Comments:

The G's said...

I am starting to find the greatest joy when they "get it." This post brought tears to my eyes. If only we could always approach the throne like children...

Keal said...

Wow - what a blessing! I was so touched to read about Sarah and just smiled to think of Nathan drilling Mike with lots of questions. Praising God for blessing you and your family in such a personal way.

Brittany said...

We have children's church at our church. It's for Sunday mornings and one Sunday night a month. (My dad actually leads the night one) We do our communion, baptism, and missionary speakers at night services so the kids are part of all of that.

I only want to mention how I grew up to show you another perspective too. We sat in a service, with our hands in our laps and not allowed to do anything but listen. It taught us how to daydream. What the preacher was saying was way over our heads.

Now, saying that, I think that having your children part of the worship service, communion, and other things like that is SUPER healthy for them. You and Mike are doing a great job, IMO.

I think there's a happy medium there. My children LOVE to sing the praise and worship songs at church along with the congregation. I love to hear their little voices as they watch and learn how to praise and woship our God.

Last Sunday night, I sat in the same aisle as my bro's 8yo dd and watched her sing praise music with all of her heart and just cried. Of all of the things this little girl has gone through in such a short time in her life and to be truly worshipping God. It was a great reminder to this old aunt of hers.

Aren't we priveledged to have our miracles rise up and bless and be blessed by an almighty God?!? I'm humbled and so not worthy of any of it.

Love you!

Way More Homemade said...

Brittany -

I will say that other people have told me similar stories of how they grew up just sitting in church reading books or daydreaming. Which is why I mentioned that book. The author gives so many practical ways we can actively involve our children in the worship service. And that also highlights why it is important to involve our children at a level that they individually can handle.

The whole concept of childrens church is a complicated thing and worthy of much more time than I devoted to it here. I totally agree with the concept of offering alternatives if there is the need and leadership base for it. My only real point is that I believe it's dangerous for a church to try to tell us that we are expected to not bring our children into worship with us. For there to be an unwelcoming attitude toward them in corporate worship.

Hope that makes sense.

bigadd said...

I applaud you for your dedication to the christian education of your children. We do have children's church in my church. In that activity we have very dedicated teachers that bring the message of GOD to kids on their level. Not every home is blessed with a dedicated mom and dad like your home . We have a lot of young parents who are not very far above their children's level in their walk with Christ. So many times I see that young mom or dad consuming all their time trying to keep their 2+ youngster from climbing all over everything and everyone nearby instead of being able to focus on their own worship needs.

We keep the kiddo's in the sanctuary with the adults until just before the preaching service begins. They can participate in all the music and other worship activities but then they are dismissed to their own service where the story of Jesus is tailored to their level of understanding.

If more moms and dads were as dedicated and concerned with their children's christian education as you are there wouldn't be a need for churches to develop a children's church or seating arrangement for families with children that will allow others to worship.

I feel compassion for the church that feels it must "segregate" some families because of experiences in the past. That church needs a good adult education program to help moms and dads deal with their children.