I mentioned earlier this week that I wanted to chat about kids in church. Now before you think I've gone crazy, let me make a few statements about what I believe:
1. I believe families should attend church.
2. I believe the reason for attending church is to worship Christ; serve others; fellowship with other believers; and learn truths from His word.
3. I am a firm believer in teaching our children the importance of being involved (not just attending) church.
To read more about why we make it a priority, click HERE.
With all that said, I'll take a deep breath and pray that you read this with an open mind and a willingness to discuss it kindly.
A few weeks ago as we sat in our usual seats in church I looked to my right and realized that both of my girls were playing tic-tac-toe with their friends. They were being quiet. They were not being disruptive. But something in me felt embarrassed that they were not diligently taking notes and hanging on every word of our pastor. I whispered for them to stop playing games and pay attention! My sweet daughter innocently replied, "but Mom, I don't understand what he's saying. I never do." How, pray tell, do you respond to that?
"Just act like you're listening."
"You just need to pay attention."
"Well, listen better!"
All of the responses I could come up with at that moment sounded absurd.
Have you ever said things to your kids and while it is coming out of your mouth you've thought what I'm saying sounds so ridiculous? I do that so many times. True confession. How about you?
Back on track...
I'm not sure what I muttered as my response that morning. I do know that it really got me thinking about kids in church. I know there are many churches who are extremely kid friendly. They realize the importance of creating a sense of community for the children within the worship service. Other churches offer "children's church" as a great alternative by creating an age appropriate teaching/worship time. While our church has many strengths, creating a child friendly worship service is not one of them. It is so disheartening to sit week after week under great teaching but feel that our most precious attenders are being completely ignored.
Yes, they are engaged during the song/worship time. But then I have to ask myself, realistically, would I want to attend a service week after week where I was expected to sit (quiet and still) for 45 min while someone spoke only to the grown ups in the room?
My children are compliant. They do sit quietly and without complaint. They are learning by example what worship time looks like for adults. When Jesus said, "let the little ones come to me" he didn't say, "when the adult teaching time is over." He included the children right then. I want my children engaged in the act of worship. Now. Not when they get to their Sunday school class. Now. With us. Alongside other believers of every age. Engaged.
I want to ask these hard questions before they start asking me: Why do we have our children in church? Do I expect them to act like they are paying attention? Do I expect them to take notes on a topic that is beyond their comprehension? Do we, as a congregation (for generations in America), hinder our children's spiritual growth by expecting them to sit and behave, while ignoring them as a significant part of the body of Christ?
If you read this with the expectation that I would have good answers to these questions, I'm sorry to disappoint. Like the title says, my answers right now are lame. I'm taking these questions to Jesus. I'm also open to suggestions from you. Maybe you attend a church that succeeds in making sure children are an intrinsic part of worship/teaching time. Maybe you've found something special for them to do while sitting in church. Maybe your Sunday morning looks much different than mine. I'd love to hear.