Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Big Church and Toddlers--The WHY?

Isaiah 40:8, "God created us to glorify Him."  The most valuable thing we can do is worship Christ.  

Romans 8:28, "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.  They are the people God called, because that was His plan."  I get asked somewhat frequently why I take my children into service. The answer is plain and simple, teachable moments, which God has perfectly orchestrated within our family.  Our family loves to worship God, and bringing our children into service is one way we teach our children to worship Him.  Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child how to live the right way. Then even when he is old, he will still live that way."  

At the time of writing this, my son is 3.5 and my daughter is 1.5 years old.  My son has always sat in service with our family, since the day he was born.  As he grew older, I sat outside the sanctuary and we watched the service on TV, training him to sit still and quietly.  Our church does not have a mothers room, a training area, a children's sermon bag, etc. My daughter usually sits through the singing (first 15 minutes) and then I bring her to the nursery area.  I hope to start training her as well, right now I still feel the need to focus on our son.  (For the past two Sundays, both children have sat through the entire service with us. My son is now 3.75 and my daughter 23 months.)

Mark 10:14, "He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me.  Don't stop them.  The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children.'"  

  • I pray the congregation sees our children's cries, giggles, claps, Amen's, prayers, singing, whining, etc. as a joyful noise.  
  • I pray they see that when we attend as a family the Body of Christ is more fully present.  Worship isn't private, it may be personal, but it's not private; it is a community where ALL are welcome, including our children.  
  • I pray the congregation understands how important these teachable moments are, so that in 10 years from now our children are still sitting in the pews, knowing that worship is important and that they are a vital part of the body of Christ. 
  • I pray our children know they are vital to the body of Christ EVERY Sunday, not just on Children's Sunday.  
  • I pray the congregation sees our children are learning through each of these teachable moments.  
  • I pray the congregation sees that our family cares about faith.  
  • I pray the congregation welcomes our family, and realizes that our children's worship matters, and that they are members of the church community too.  
  • I pray that my children know that they are welcome even though they don't yet believe, pray, or worship in all the "right" ways.  
  • I pray the church sees our children as INTEGRAL parts of the service--their cries, their giggles, their claps, their Amen's, their prayers, their singing, their whining, etc. 

Hebrews 4:12, "God's word is ALIVE and WORKING."  We enjoy being together and doing things as a family.  We value worship--there are infinitely many teachable moments, as the Bible is ALIVE.

Deuteronomy 11:18, "Remember My words in your hearts and souls.  Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign.  Tie them on your foreheads to remind you."  As parents, our greatest responsibility is to teach our children, by our example, to glorify Him.  One way we do this is through worship.  We want to teach our children about the importance of the body of Christ.  We want them to see us worshiping Christ, singing, praying, listening to His Word, learning about the living God! 

Psalm 81:10, "Open your mouth, and I WILL feed you."  We want our children to see that we are hungry for His word and to learn more about Him and His ways.  I pray our children value the presence of our Almighty God.  

1 Timothy 3:4, "his children obey him with full respect." Our children should be obedient and respectful. Asking our children to sit for any length of time requires discipline, manners, sitting quietly, respect, and obedience. Each of these are also acts that Christ also asks of us, at different times, in order to be faithful to Him. As Billy Graham says, "A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone."  

Deuteronomy 11:19, "Teach My Words well to your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road.  Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up."  Our children may be "bored," although they are still hearing the words being sung, spoken, and prayed; the format will feel familiar, some of the words are understood, and we can discuss, as a family what the sermon was about and how we can relate and apply what was taught.  As we are singing great hymns of the faith and praise and worship songs, I share with my my kids what we are saying, and why.  We desire for our children to know the One true God.  I know they hear and remember bits and pieces.  

I pray the time we spend with our children in worship is used as a catalyst for their personal faith.  I pray my husband and I can effectively teach our children the most valuable thing we can do is glorify Him, and one way we can do that is through worship.  Isaiah 40:8, "God created us to glorify Him." 

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