SUCCESS! Our Children Stayed The Entire Sunday Service

A modern Western worship team leading a contem...

 

Have you read Touch Topic: Seeing Children as a Blessing, Even in Sunday Service and Touchy Topic: Training Children in Worship?

 

Last Sunday was our third Sunday bringing the boys in service. I was a little nervous we would be “starting over,” since we had missed service the week before due to illness.

 

After Sunday School, I went to get the boys from their classes. Conner ran ahead as I got Elias. When I made it into the sanctuary, Conner was already at our seats waiting on the sill of the frosted windows. I was relieved he remembered and seemed excited! Elias joined him happily!

 

As we had the week before, they were not allowed into their backpacks during praise and worship. They did great! In our arms, in the chairs, in my purse, dancing, clapping, on the bench. At one point I caught Elias dancing in front of me with his hand in the air like someone he was watching! LOVED it! Tried to catch a picture but he moved on too quick.

 

I did have to walk out with Elias twice. Once during praise and worship, and the other during announcements or service… I can’t remember. We walked out and I told him he could not yell out when we were supposed to be sitting quietly. I wanted to make it clear it was not just because we are in a church service because I want this to carry over for weddings, funerals, graduations, and other quiet events we may attend.

 

Once praise and worship ends, James and I usually rush to pass out our attendance notebooks during announcements. James was going to stay with the boys while I did it this week, but Conner wanted to come. I thought, “Well of course!” Serving together in our church is such a blessing, and I desperately want my children to learn to serve in the ministry and not resent it for taking their parents away.

 

So Conner and I went over to get the notebooks. I carried them for him to give to the first person in each row. He was a bit abrupt hitting their arm with it, but almost everyone had a wonderful smile when they turned to see a sweet THREE year old serving in his church!

 

I can just imagine… how different would our church look if everyone was teaching their children, at a young age, to start serving and worshiping together. Ahhhh 🙂

 

CALM DOWN… I am NOT condemning you for not bring your children in service, just a sweet thought of what could be if we all did…

 

After we sat down to listen to announcements, Ne (knee as the boys call her), came to join us for the service. Ne, aka Tina, is like a second mom to both James and I. She loves our kids as her own grand kids! AND, she is conveniently a HUGE supporter of bringing the boys in service. James has to leave us a lot during service, so I sat on one end and Ne set on the opposite side. Elias was in her lap much of the service. He was (mostly) quiet and Conner did well in his own seat, until about 10-15 minutes before service was over. Conner began to beg to go to the nursery.

 

We are soooo close! I am not going to take them to nursery now! We are almost through service! We CAN do this!

 

How about a snack? Good thinking! Too bad I forgot to bring some. Fortunately, I know that the nursery always has snacks for the kids.

 

I told Conner I would get him a snack. He began to loudly get angry and demand to go to the nursery. Well, surely we all know by now, he was certainly NOT going to the nursery now. Then he would know all he had to do was get loud and angry. I whispered in his ear that he was staying in service with or without a snack, and if he would like a snack then he needed to stop throwing a fit. It worked! Whew!

 

Ran to the nursery and brought the snacks in. WOO HOO! They were both happy and sat the remaining time during service, even after finishing their snack.

 

So, to sum up. How did it all go down? Praise and worship – offered nothing to distract them and conveniently a louder time so they don’t have to be completely hush-hush, meet and greet – Conner asks to go see his Wednesday night teacher, so we let them go say hello to people, announcements – began getting the backpacks out and let Conner serve with me, service – backpacks and snacks!

 

We made it through to the very end!!! I was ecstatic! Loving this and feeling so much closer to my kids and God in the process!

 

Did you decide to transition your kids into service after they were in children’s church? If so, share what worked for you? Are you thinking about? What’s holding you back?

 

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Touchy Topic: Training Children in Worship

child praying

Photo Source

I am so excited about today’s guest post. This topic has been on my mind for a few years and I am so glad Candace agreed to write it for me. Thanks Candace! 

Guest post from Candace at Sacred Mommyhood

After posting the article, Dear Parents with Young Children in Church, to my Facebook page, there was some discussion as to how to begin training your little ones to sit still during a worship service.  There was also some discussion about children’s church, and how that may be more age appropriate and beneficial for young ones.

There is not much more I can add to encourage parents to include their children in worship, as the author did a beautiful job explaining the importance of having your children in the worship service, and encouraging moms who are already doing this.

I would only add that by including our young children in worship, we’re setting the tone for life-long worshiping.  Google “statistics of young adults leaving the church”, and you’ll get article after article citing statistics as high as 91%, with many differing opinions as to why they are leaving.  My personal theory is this:  If we’re continually keeping them out of worship through infancy, adolescence, and teen years, why would we expect them in worship service when they’re adults.  We’ve already sent the message that a worship service is not important, or just boring at best.  After all, they’ve had “fun” all these years in nursery, Sunday school, and youth group.  We must remember that worship is not about us!  It’s about HIM!

In addition, families should worship together.  There is no biblical model where families separated into age-segregated groups to learn how to worship.  It was learned by being present.  So often, family members are going in all different directions throughout the week.  Then on Sunday, the children are placed in the nursery or sent off to children’s church, separating the family again.  With the cultural breakdown in families today, I can’t think of a more meaningful way to bind the family unit than to share in worship, together.

I am in no way saying that children’s church, nursery, or any other age-segregated group activity is wrong.  My heart feels for the tired, weary momma who just needs to worship and not train.  I’ve been there!  I just feel strongly that we’re sending a counter-productive message to our children about worship when Sunday after Sunday we’re ushering them out of it.  But this is definitely something each family has to think and pray about on their own.  And I know many churches these days are quite hostile to small children in service, making this decision even more difficult.

So for those of you considering including your small children in the worship service, here are some tips to help you in the training process.

You  Are Training

This is the most important aspect to keep in mind.  It is so easy to get frazzled and discouraged when your little ones are learning to sit still quietly.  Your Sundays will most likely feel like a chore rather than worship, but even this is an offer of worship to God.  Investing this time into your children is a sacrifice of praise!  This has been my life for many years!  I am perpetually in “training” mode.  But I’ve had the joy of seeing fruit.  My little ones can sit through an hour and a half service without being a distraction.

Try a Booster Seat

This may be more difficult in a pew seating arrangement (no place to secure the straps), but if your church seating consists of chairs, bring a booster seat for your older babies and toddlers.  Not only does this help them to stay put, it provides a flat surface (tray) on which to draw or rest books.  It’s also perfect for giving them Cheerios (or other snacks) to keep hunger at bay.

Provide Books, Crayons, and Paper

I know some families who feel strongly about not giving their children anything during worship, and prefer to train them without things to keep them busy.  I respect that and understand that each family will need to approach this according to their standards.

We, however, don’t have a problem with allowing our little ones to look at books or doodle while learning to be still and quiet.  Kids absorb more than we think when their little hands are busy.

Our church floor is hardwood, so we try to be selective about what we give them.  We only give our toddlers soft books since they tend to drop them more often.  And crayons make less noise on a hard surface than pens and pencils do.  So just be aware of those potential noisemakers.

Be Courteous to Those Around You

We attend a family integrated church, so all our children are with us through service.  We all expect a certain amount of noise every now and then…a baby getting fussy, something dropping, or the low murmur of a child asking mom or dad a question.  These types of noises are not distracting to us.  In fact, our pastor loves those sounds.  He understands the importance of children being present from the beginning and welcomes those sweet sounds.

But obviously, there is a point when noise will become distracting, so try to be aware of those around you and quickly remove a crying baby or noisy toddler.

If you do not attend a church where children are welcome in the worship service, you may need to be a little more vigilant when it comes to noise, but don’t let that deter you.  Try to sit closer to an exit so that you can get out quickly if necessary without distracting others.

Start Small

If you are pulling your child(ren) out of nursery or children’s church, ease them into worship service.  If you’re concerned about the length of your service, try starting with smaller chunks of time.  Twenty to thirty minutes may be all you and the child can handle at first.  Each Sunday, add five minutes or so according to the child’s ability.  If it’s an older child who has really loved children’s church, and is upset about missing out, perhaps allowing them to attend one Children’s Church a month would help ease the transition.

A Word on Babies in Worship

I have had a baby in my lap during service for the past twelve years.  Of course, I’ve had the help of my husband and older children, but essentially, my babies are with me.  I’ll often glance around while the congregation is singing, and notice the moms with babies on one hip and the hymnal in their opposite hand, and it makes me smile.  Not because I think they’re better for keeping their babies with them, or because they look cute.  But because they’re making a sacrifice.  They’re forgoing a little freedom and ease to instill something bigger from the very beginning.

Babies hear the sounds and take in the sights of “church”.  As they grow, so does their understanding of what’s happening around them.  Those babies grow into toddlers, who in most cases, already have an inherent knowledge of what to do.  It’s been modeled for them since birth!  They can sit through worship, and for the most part, be quiet.  I have seen this in my own children and those around me.  Are they perfect?  Of course not.  Do they require discipline from time to time.  Absolutely!  But the transition is much smoother than that of a toddler who has been used to happily and noisily playing in the nursery.

So whether you’re contemplating bringing your children into worship service with you, or you’re just getting started, I hope you have found encouragement here.  I understand that this can certainly be a touchy issue within the church body, but one that I pray would never cause division among believers.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs
the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 19:14

Thankful Thursday: A Loving Husband and a Strong Marriage

What a wonderful weekend we had at Marriage Encounter!!! I am so thankful to a husband who opens up and is willing to work to make our marriage stronger.

For some time now, I have felt passionate about the power of strong marriages. James and I are open and honest with each other. We share a special relationship. One that God holds in the highest position among human relationships. Next to my relationship with Christ, this is the deepest relationship I can and do have. No other bond will be as sacred as marriage.

Because of this unique relationship God formed between a man and a woman, we must stand together and united, as one. The day we were married we became one. This is amazing to me and the absolute closest example of a relationship I can have with God on earth.

I am to submit to him as the church submits to Christ, and he is to love and protect me as Christ loves and protects the church. Our marriage should be an example of the church and Christ. Wow! That really speaks to me! I want people to see us and see love. I want to feel that love. I want people to see a strong Godly example. I want to be that example, to both my children and everyone else I come in contact with.

I believe many, if not all, of the world’s problems could be solved, or at least manageable, if we took the vows of marriage more seriously. If we, as married couples, worked to make our relationship more united, as one.

What an amazing difference we could see in our churches, in our children, in our workplace, if marriage were truly sacred, if vows were upheld, if we gave instead of took, if we were together instead of fighting to get what we wanted.

This is a passion of mine if you cannot tell! We need to work to make our marriages strong before they have time to fail. We need to encourage others to take their marriage seriously and work through the differences. We need to work on giving instead of taking. It is not about what we can get from the marriage, but instead what we can give to the marriage.

I started this blog with that in mind. Fighting through my ultra feminist ways, and instead seeking God on how to be the submissive (OH NO… she said the terrible S word!), helpmate God wants me to be for my husband. I can lift him up, encourage, and support him, and help him to be the best he can be, which in turn will speak highly of me as a wife, or I can nag, complain, tear down, and destroy who he is as a man in order to lift me up and my needs as a “woman” who needs to be heard and be my own person.

God has not called me to these selfish ways. I have nothing to prove to society. As a woman, I know I can do almost anything a man can do, but that doesn’t mean I need or have to. OK, OK… I can see I am now writing a whole other post. I will do that later.

All that to say, I love my husband and I appreciate that he helps make my marriage stronger. We highly recommend anyone and everyone attend Marriage Encounter. I believe you will find it to be well worth your time, and the small registration fee. They take care of everything so that you can enjoy your time together. I will always remember this last weekend and the wonderful memories that were made and that will stay with us forever.

Lifting the Church Up

Side note… I’ve been recovering from mastitis still… harder than I thought. I do apologize for not being in the right state of mind to write my blog. Between being ill, and very busy with church business, I have been behind on EVERYTHING! So don’t think I am only neglecting you; unfortunately, it has carried over on to my poor family. Thank you for your continued prayers.

What is the hardest part of the church? That it is made up of humans 🙂

I’m not trying to be mean… just honest! We all make mistakes. We all have choices and make decisions, but at the end of the day, we are responsible to God for how we handle ourselves.

I try  to ask myself regularly, am I doing this/saying this to uplift and encourage, or am I doing this/saying this to tear down.  It is no secret that I once struggled heavily with anger issues. God has pulled me out of that bondage, and reminds me often, to keep my anger in check.

This means thinking before I speak and choosing my words wisely. It also means wise decisions in choosing who I will allow to “get into my mind.”

I have to ask God, am I talking with this person to find peace and unity within my church, or to plan to bring my church down? It is so easy to get caught up in meetings and groups, to get caught up in conversations, to allow my thoughts to lead me to anger and blame. It is easy as a human to put myself in a place where I focus on the negative or focus on the faults of others, but I have to ask myself, “what good can come from this?” How am I contributing to the unity of my church by doing these things.

The Church is made up of humans. We are all going to make mistakes. It is important to keep each other accountable and in check for these things! The same is true for the Body, not just the Head! When I am approached or want to approach others, I try to remember, how will this help the Church? How will this represent God best?

I also ask myself, what do I know to be TRUE and what is simply told to me through the grapevine. Gossip is such a horrid thing, and I would certainly be lying if I ever claimed I have never been a part of it, but when I step back and look at the aftermath, I live with my actions.

I write this blog today out of complete LOVE! I truly LOVE the Church! I truly LOVE MY church! I want to bring good things forward. In everything I say and do, I make sure to ask and seek out the truth. I ask God to guide me to what is important. To where my focus should be. Do I want to dwell in anger and resentment? Do I want to spread gossip and possible lies? Am I looking to start something that would be better not started? Am I lifting up the Church? Am I standing strong through the hard times? Am I doing MY part to bring peace and unity, where we all can work together?

God, my cry to you: “You hear me! Your see my tears. You see the anger. You know the hurt and heartache. It’s nothing new to you. You are not surprised. Help me to find the common ground. Help me to do my part in creating peace.

“Guide me in my decisions, so that as new people come to the church (especially unbelievers!!!), they will see your love through me and my church! Help me to know what conversations to stay out of and away from. Help me to only listen to those who are looking to move forward rather than dwelling on the past. Help me to listen to those who want to learn from the past as we look forward. Keep me and my actions in check!

Also, remind me to forgive. Help me to look at people through your eyes, in your love. That all people are human and we all make mistakes. Thank you Lord for not leaving me when I failed you. When I made terrible choices. Remind me to offer that same love and forgiveness to others. Amen!”

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

What a wonderful year already! We had a great celebration ringing in the new year with family and friends. Church this morning was amazing, as God confirmed many of my thoughts and goals. New Years Day celebration, with fondue and more family and friends, was a lot of fun and super yummy!

I’m so thankful for all my friends and family. I thank God for blessing us with such an amazing church family.

When a new year begins, its important to look back and learn from the past. As I reflect on this last year, I can’t help but see God working in my life. He carried us through a long stay in the NICU with our sweet 1 lb 12 oz miracle! He gave me strength to let go of my job and trust in His ability to provide for our family. Timing was perfect (as it could be) for me to have appendicitis the last month of my insurance: we had already met the deductible. And my husband’s mini stroke after he got his insurance, despite the fact that we didn’t want it, was perfect timing. God was there every step!

He showed us a strength we didn’t know we had! I look back and see all that could have been and what He has done for us.

Life isn’t always easy. Or as we plan! Wait, what?!? But I always have a plan! I know exactly how things should go! Why doesn’t it work that way? Because then we would never grow.

I may not know what this next year holds, how the cards may lay, but I know I serve a God who will never leave me or forsake me.

He’s called me to one of the highest positions one can have. One I take very seriously! Being a wife! Being a mom!

This “job” isn’t for the weak. It’s not for just anybody. I feel blessed to be here. He has blessed me with this responsibility. I must trust Him and lean on Him each day!

Learning from the past is vital to improving the future.

I’ve written goals for the New Year and I’ve posted them for accountability. Be sure to write goals and post them so that at least you see them daily. Learn from last year and make changes.

Thank you, God, for continuously reminding me of my many blessings! Thank you, God, for showing me how to be a better wife and mom! Thank you, God, for letting me know I’ll never be perfect… and that’s ok!!!!

What have you learned from this last year and what will you aim to do differently this year?