There is somewhat of a discussion going on in the comment section of my last post on Bible reading with toddlers. The discussion made me think of some other thoughts I have on the subject that seemed a little long to add to the comment section. You may have to read the comment section to understand where I am coming from :)
(Our Church is Christ Covenant Church in Lynnwood Washington)
We too agree that it is a parental decision. We all have to hear from the Lord on our own, what we feel God is speaking to us in regards to training, worshiping, schooling, etc, the children God has placed in our care. I hope this blog never comes across as a slam on how other people worship, it is our family blog and we desire to live as an open book. We know that we do things differently than a lot of our friends and a lot of the those who stop by to read our blog, and we feel that that is okay. The purpose of this blog is not to change how “you” think, simply to express how we think :)
That said I just want to say a little more about what we believe for our children. Chris and I were both raised in churches that did not have an active full-time children’s church. I personally spent, with my family, much of Sunday in the pew. And while at times I remember being bored, I also remember loving church, the singing and hymns, the testimonies, the prayer times, and the sermon (which was given by my Grandfather for many years of my childhood). Grandpa was a fun-loving man who just loved Jesus so much. As a child I grew to respect him as well as the time he spent sharing the Word with us, the congregation. He always told cute little stories, and told the same jokes over and over again but we always laughed. I know that not every person was raised in a church like mine, and while I have good memories I also have things that even now I didn’t like about how church operated. There is no one perfect church, we all know that!
What is the purpose of marriage? We believe the purpose for marriage is intimacy with God, and to glorify Him in who you are as a couple. As we do that, our goal then with our children is the same. Our purpose for having children, glorification of God. We purpose to teach our children to become intimate with God, and to desire to glorify Him in all they do. We believe that that will happen through their watching us, day in and day out. Watching us as we interact with one another in the morning before dad leaves for work, at the breakfast table, in the car, throughout the day with mommy learning how to be a child of God, how to pray how be patient, how to love and receive love, how to worship when we don’t feel like it, how to live. Our lives to our children are an open book, they become ultimately the Christians we taught them to be. I believe that we our marriage and lives lived in honoring the Lord is the best illustration of relationship with Christ that our children can get. Church is a part of this exampling process for our children, they are part of our family and we want them to watch us worship, watch us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins, watch us thank the Lord for His redemption of sins, hear us glorify God with our voices as we praise him, watch us receive the instruction given from the word (they will hold us accountable whether we know they are or not), and then partake with us the bread and the wine which is the remembrance of all that Christ has done for us, and they too are a part of it all. Why? Because we believe in covenant. When God gave a covenant He never spoke it to one person it was always to you and your children and your children’s children. We don’t want to make our kids sit through church at such a young age because “that’s how I was raised and it didn’t hurt me so by golly that’s how we’ll raise you!” We truly believe in the power of the spoken Word of God, even to the smallest infant. When we read to our children we pray that God’s Spirit will cause His word to come to life to them, that they will absorb it as they grow and it will be the source of wisdom and understanding. Does this mean that we will never interact with them at their level? Absolutely not! We are constantly explaining, drawing pictures, reading children’s books, and answering questions. This part, this sitting and listening is just a small part of being a Christian. I love it when my kids ask me a question about the sermon while he is speaking because it shows me that they are listening, and I will often lean over and just explain a little about what he’s talking about just to spark their interest a little more. I loved what Catherine said about how her mom helped her interact and listen during the preaching time, it’s great to share those ideas as we all need help in the creativity section at times! Right now we are working on the sitting part, and then I think when we know they can sit we may add one of those other tools for helping them to imagine better what they are hearing.
We are on a journey. Together with the Lord, Chris and I are constantly seeking wisdom from the Lord on how to capture the hearts of our children. We believe in God’s promise that when we train our children in His ways, when they are old they will not depart from it. But what does it mean to “train” our children? This is where I think so many of us miss it and we are seeking God’s truth to understand how that practically plays out in our daily lives. This morning I listened with the children to an awesome message by our pastor on Training our children.
Well, my kids are waking from their nap so I better go :)
Wow, did you even suspect what a discussion this would evoke?! This seems to be a subject on which people have strong feelings. While I know you do not “judge” people for their ways of handling their children, when someone proposes a way that is different from the way we were raised, or the way we are trying to train our chilldren, it sometimes “feels” judgemental, which causes us to defend our own way. I think you did a good job, though, of stating that you didn’t necessarily feel your way is the only way, it is the way that seems to you to be the way God is leading YOU to lead your children. I know it is hard to be the disciplinarian, when other parents seem to be more lenient, but the proof is in the behaviour of your children. I listened to Dean’s message while I ate my dinner tonight, and really appreciated the things he had to say. It is a blessing to you that many of the parents in your church feel the same as you about children being in the service, I remember Grandpa saying many times, “Don’t worry about your children making noise in our service, we like kids, and it is their church, too. We’d rather they be here, making a little noise, than not having them here.” Which was far more welcoming to young parents than another pastor who said, “Crying children are like promises, they should be carried out promptly.” While we hope our children do not disrupt the service, a little noise should not be disturbing to most reasonable people.
Amen to that mom! Grandpa was a good pastor wasn’t he :)
Wow, what a disscusion! :-) This is your blog and I hop i didn’t start up any bd feelings or offend you or your family, I guess Nanajudi is correct above saying sometimes you feel you have to defend your own way. I guess I didn’t have to do so. So i’m sorry if I rubbe anyone the worng way. Everyone is just raised differently and have different churches. I’l have my children in children’s church until they would like to come into service or until 1st grade, whichever comes first. River always comes out singing hyms (he came out the other week singing ‘go tell them on the mountain’ it was cute) and he tells me “did you know that God….” or “Mary was Jesus’s mommy, an angel came to her..” And it’s not like our learning stops when we walk out the church doors, I teach him constantly all I can. It seems there are many ways to teach kids. I never would have thought that with having kids in service that they would soak so much up. But clearly they do! You and your husband are doing so great. Who knows, maybe i’ll try having my 4 year old in with me for awhile and see what comes of it. I’ll have to work on the sitting still part with him for sure! There are some couples hat keep their children with them in service, maybe i’ll as how they did it/why they do it.
Sara, we weren’t offended at all at your comments. It just made me realize that maybe people didn’t know where we were coming from and why we’ve chosen to have our children in church with us. Coming from a charismatic background there is a lot of negative said about a church who are more traditional. I can remember thinking and saying a lot of negative things about how dead traditional churches, and that was without any experience at all. Thankfully our church, though we still sing hymns and psalms, and have a more traditional feel, is full of life and truth and the children love being a part of it. Thanks again for your comments, they really made me think. Bless you as you seek to train up your children in the way they should go!