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Monday, February 9, 2009
Children in Church
Another topic that I discussed with the ladies at lunch on Saturday was, "Does the Big D. Family attend church services together, or do the children attend the children's program?"
Again ... different years, different children, different seasons ... bring different answers. In most areas, our family has learned to be a very flexible family, desiring to meet the individual needs of each individual child, rather than to just say, "this is how our family does it". Of course, there are times that we just say, "This is our Family Guideline. Period."
Babies: we have always kept our babies in service with us until they got to the point of being disruptive to those around us. Of course, sometimes babies are disruptive just by their cute smiles ... but we won't kick them out of church for that. Once our babies, however, are beginning to babble loudly, we take them out of service.
IF there is a church nursery that we are comfortable with the care provided, most of our babies have enjoyed the nursery/toddler stages in the children's program. However, there have been many times over the years that either mommy or baby just wasn't comfortable with the nursery arrangement. In that case, I will sit in the foyer and listen to the sermon on the speakers, while the baby plays nearby, or I will walk around, following toddling child.
Once our children are in kindergarten or first grade, we have found that they have gotten to a point that they ask to join us in "big church". We are overjoyed to have them in service with us, worshiping with us, and studying God's Word together. By this time, they have also been in BSF for a few years, so they have learned to sit quietly during the "Bible Time" or sermon.
Our current church has an AMAZING children's program. We love it ... we love the staff ... we are fully comfortable with the program that is offered. However, our children have chosen to join us in "big service" by the time they are 5 or 6.
In December, Papa and I had the most precious conversation with our two little guys ...
After being put to bed on Saturday night, Josiah (8) came out and asked if any of the older siblings were going to church in the morning (the family had attended Saturday evening). I asked if he wanted to go to KidsPlace with Hosanna (as she works both Sunday services), and he said, "No. I want to go to big service again." We had to apologize that one of us were going again in the morning (often we have several family members who choose to attend 2 or 3 services in the weekend, to hear the sermon again).
On Sunday morning, at 8:30, Josiah came into our bedroom, woke us up, and asked if he could go to church all by himself (we walk to church) to go to "big service" again. This led to the following discussion ...
Mama: "So, Josiah and Elijah, what did you like about service last night?"
Mama: "What exactly?"
Elijah (6): "The movies." (movie clips to give an illustration for the sermon)
Josiah: "Yes. The movies."
Mama: "What did you like about the movies?"
Both Boys: "When Jesus was on the cross."
Mama: "How did that make you feel?"
Mama: "What else did you like about service last night? What did Pastor Kim talk about?"
Elijah: "About praising God."
Mama: "Yes. Kim said he likes to worship God, doesn't he?"
Elijah: "He talked about Moses ... I mean, Joseph."
Mama: "What word did we write several times on the outline?" (The kids all fill in the sermon outline, even before they know how to read. It's something they WANT to do.)
Mama: "What does Jesus still do?"
Elijah: "He still forgives us."
Josiah: "He still loves us."
Mama: "You're right."
Mama: "Why do you boys like going to big service instead of KidsPlace?"
Josiah: "Because we learn more."
Elijah: "We learn more about God."
Mama: "What do the kids do in KidsPlace?"
Elijah: "They play and watch movies." (They DO teach about God, too.)
Mama: "We sure like having you boys in service with us. We like to worship with our family, and learn from Pastor Kim together."
I just copied this conversation off of an email that I sent to Pastor Kim, telling him of this precious conversation, and thanking him for the great messages that he gives, that minister to each member of our family.
I can't say it enough ... we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE taking up a whole row at church, and worshiping with our children. Nothing could be better! It is the best day of the week for me!
Oh yea ... one of those non-negotiable Family Guidelines ... we do "require" all children/teens to sit with the family. We do not allow them to sit all over the worship center with their friends. Our older kids didn't always appreciate it, but our teens at home now (I think) enjoy the family worship almost as much as I do. Ben and Hosanna (on their own initiative) for the past year have walked to church 30 minutes early, so that they can save the whole 2nd row for the family.