Yesterday as we were pulling up to church, Vivienne decided she didn’t want to go to her class. She wanted to go to “big church” with us.
In my mind, I was thinking, “I’m not prepared for this! I don’t have any paper or coloring books or anything to ‘distract’ her during the sermon! Why???”
But instead of letting her see my panic, I tried to prep Vivi as best as I could. She’s an observant kid. She stood and watched as everyone sang, then she watched as the offering buckets were passed. (In hindsight, I should’ve given her some money to put in.) The whole time, though, she kept asking when Pastor David was going to get onstage.
Once our pastor began preaching, I could see Vivienne getting restless. I let her follow along in my Bible as he read from the book of Joshua.
I answered her loudly whispered questions.
I worried about being a distraction to those around us.
Then she grabbed a notecard from the seat in front of us and decided to take notes. I kid you not. The sermon was from Joshua 1:6-10. Go read it. Then check out what she wrote.
Y’all. This is proof to me that little ears are always listening. She picked up on the most important thing from the sermon.
God is strong.
God is strong. Not me.
I can’t do this hard thing He is asking me to do. But God is strong and He can help me.
Did you have children’s church when you were little?
I don’t think Children’s Church was a thing when I was a kid 35 years ago. I can remember sitting in “big church,” being shushed a lot, and being bored to tears. (Sorry but it’s true.) I can remember being so sleepy, wishing I could lie down in my mom’s lap. I also have vivid memories of one of my brother’s friends sleeping on the pew behind us, snoring loudly. Now that was funny!
When Peter and I started having kids, Children’s Church was becoming a thing. And I loved it! Who doesn’t want a place for their two-year old to go where they can hear stories about Jesus, sing songs about God’s goodness, and play?
A few months ago, a friend on Facebook posted about a book she was reading which really intrigued me, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The book was called Parenting in the Pew and the premise of the book is that we should have our children in the worship services with us instead of in children’s church.
I decided to read this book, particularly because the church we’ll be attending when we move to Tennessee has done away with children’s church for kindergarten aged kids and older. I was hoping to gain some serious wisdom from this author. (Really, I wanted a step-by-step guide to how I should handle my kids in church – particularly Jonah.)
In the book the author talks about the importance of Children’s Church for young children up to about age 4, but she notes that children should be doing many of the same things in their service that the adults are doing – learning the tenets of the faith and the traditions of their particular denomination so when it’s time for them to actually attend “big church,” they are prepared for what is happening.
This book was so good for me, giving practical ideas for helping young children participate in “big church.” Here are just a few examples:
- Expect high standards. Prepare your children by telling them exactly what will happen in the service. Most kids are capable of sitting for an extended period of time.
- Have a printout of the worship songs for that particular day. Many churches now choose to project lyrics on a big screen, but kids have difficulty reading from a screen. Having words easily accessible will encourage them to sing and participate.
- Have your child sit closely to you, and let them follow along in the Bible as the pastor reads.
- Answer as many questions as possible that your children ask. If a question requires a longer answer than you can give, make sure to answer it on the way home.
- If possible, find out what the sermon will be on and then look for coloring sheets or activity pages relating to that passage of Scripture.
- Give your child a notebook and allow him to take notes or draw pictures – but only if they relate in some way to the sermon.
I know that kids get bored in worship service and frankly, I worry how Jonah will do when we move. But even if your child only gets one thing out of the sermon, like Vivienne did yesterday, that’s still awesome in my book.
What are your thoughts on Children’s Church versus children in the worship service?
Do you think you would have better success if your church equipped you with knowledge and resources before expecting kids to sit with you?
What are some things that make you nervous about having children in the worship service with you?
And for the record, I’m not against Children’s Church. At all! I actually love it for preschoolers and younger elementary kids. But I think there are pros and cons to anything we do, and everyone has to choose what they think is best for their own family.