The Spiritual Discipline of Parenting: Children in Church

I have a friend over at Caught By Christ who wrote a good article on having your kids in the pews.  I commend this article to you and have some additional reflections.

I am a big believer of children being in church. This is shocking I know. But, I am also very cognizant of when my children are being very loud in worship.  Other children could be just as loud as mine and I don’t notice it very much. But, if it’s my children, I start trying to get my wife’s attention. After I’ve gotten it I give her the look to have her try and calm them down. I understand why people with children don’t take their kids to worship. Their noise level may jump exponentially for minor reasons.

As I think about this I have to remind myself that worship is not all about me and my children.  This is my selfish desire to think that somehow my children will have such an impact on what is going on in worship, that it will somehow throw off what God is doing.  It seems to me that this might turn out to be a good spiritual discipline.  By having my children being formed in church I am giving them access them to God’s Word and Sacrament, which many don’t have. When they start to make noise and I want them to go to the nursery, I must stop and remember I am upholding my baptismal promises for them, they have to be there.  I am taking them to worship and it’s not about me or my children. Worship is a messy event.  When my children are loud I have to let go and realize that my children, or I, have not become the center of attention.  So here is the spiritual discipline: take your children to church and when they are noisy remember that this worship is centered on God, people won’t focus on you, and rely once again on God. People are generally very kind to parents with children.

Live with the messiness of worship, loud children and all.  It helps me to remember that I and my children are not the center of the universe, even though it could feel that way when their fighting over a hymnal.

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4 Comments

Filed under Ministry Reflections, Parenting, Personal

4 responses to “The Spiritual Discipline of Parenting: Children in Church

  1. I think it’s important to build a culture within a congregation that allows children to be themselves and age appropriate in the pews.

    I knew a pastor who would say, “if someone’s child is being loud in worship and you have a problem with it, It’s your problem, not their parents.”

    I liked that.

  2. Additionally, I think we have to build a culture within congregations that allows children to be their age in worship.

  3. Nicole

    We’ve always kept our kids with us in the service. It is valuable for them, for sure. We prefer to keep them with us. I wish more kids stayed in the service with their parents. Maybe then service planners would take their presence into account more seriously. The downside for us is that neither of us (Dan or I) has been able to fully appreciate the service for many many years. Church is stressful–getting everyone ready, preparing snacks, quiet activities, etc., keeping the noise level to low talking or whispers (especially difficult when fighting over a toy or snack), reminding the littles not to stomp or jump or wave arms around at inappropriate moments, gritting our teeth when the toy is loudly dropped or the water bottle is slammed on the ground for the umpteenth time, cleaning up the coffee knocked over by the baby, attempting to rapidly–discreetly–nurse a hungry/tired baby because church falls during nap time, mad sprinting to the potty to avoid a catastrophic puddle in the house of the Lord, etc.

  4. Pingback: Children In Church (Building An Accepting Culture)

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