By now you know that I LOVE the idea of a family-integrated church. I love the reliance on the sufficiency of Scripture. I love the multi-generational emphasis. I love the committment to hospitality and relational ministry. I love the equipping of parents to lead family worship at home. I love kissing youth group good-bye. And I love in theory worshipping with my kids in church. But... And here it comes. I've encountered a few difficulties along the way. I'm not completely incompetent, so I can't help but wonder if some other parents have encountered similar difficulties. I welcome your hints and advice, for I need all the help I can get.
My reality of worshipping with my kids in church has not lived up to the theory of it. Let me explain. Our four oldest children (10, 8, 6, 3) are really getting it. I try to prepare them for worship before we go to church and we discuss the sermon afterwards. I love worshipping with them. It's the 15 month old that has derailed my theory. She was fine in church while she took a bottle and would fall asleep. Then she became vocal and mobile and for the last 3 months has not cooperated in church. Let me say right here that we have a small church and I do not feel comfortable letting her stay in church if she's going to be noisy. Her dad is the one preaching and he would not like it. Last Sunday as a deacon stood up behind the pulpit and announced the reading of God's Word, Baby Lu punctuated his remark with one of her own. She's quite vocal and does not like to be shushed. Now I realize that it probably is possible to train her to sit quietly through church, but I'm wondering if it's worth it. She is not going to understand anything from the sermon. She is not going to be harmed by going to the toddler class for half an hour (I keep her with me through hymn time and meet and greet). I mean, does that make me a bad mother because I would much rather leave her in the toddler class for 30 minutes so I can focus on the sermon and on helping my 3 year old to sit nicely and listen for himself? I've seriously struggled with this.
I have this image in my mind of ALL of us sitting together in church. I LOVE that thought. But, I'd rather have most of us sitting together in church and me participating in worship than all of us sitting together and me up and down and up and down and in and out of the sanctuary trying to shush Baby Lu. Am I the only one who has encountered this frustration? Please tell me I'm not. She does great at home in family worship sitting on her blanket, but she's not completely quiet. I'm able to handle more noise at home because it's just us. I've been trying to shush her and teach her to stay quiet and sometimes have more luck than others, but Sunday mornings she thinks she's the star, which she is, and there's no stopping her. During the Christmas eve candlelight service she toddled around the back of the sanctuary and then down one of the middle rows greeting everyone she passed. Yes, I realize she's a wee bit spoiled. And as somone at church was telling me last week, she's not just our baby, but all of theirs, too. But, my predicament remains. So, until one of you convinces me otherwise, I'm just going to plan on taking her to her class during the last half of worship for the forseeable future.
What do you do with your 1 yr olds in church? Can you have a semi- or mostly-family-integrated church?
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.