Why I will not Apologize
You know what? I get it, I honestly do. I know that it can be frustrating for you to have to sit around my children during church. I know that they don’t always remember to whisper, they might sit when we stand or stand when we sit, and they will probably (at some point) be eating during the service. I promise they will be distracting sometimes and I guarantee they are not going to sit quietly the whole service (although I do promise to take them out when they are melting down… we all have those days don’t we?). But here’s the thing…. that’s not my biggest concern right now. My husband and I are not trying to teach our children to sit and be quiet so the adults can worship God through singing, teaching and responding. We’re not trying to make sure that they are “seen but not heard”, frankly their noise level is the least of our concern on a Sunday morning.
So what am I trying to teach my children when I get the opportunity to have them with me during the service?
I want my children to know that Church is FUN!! When we come to Cornerstone, my youngest, Norah who is now 2 years old, almost always runs to the sanctuary doors and starts dancing and clapping. Even in her young mind, she knows that in that place we sing with joy, we clap (some of us anyways), and we celebrate! As she gets older she will come to understand that we are singing songs of joy to our Savior, we are clapping in adoration to our Father, and we are celebrating the works of our God! Our oldest daughter, Libby, has started to understand that more and more every Sunday we are together. She knows that we go to Church to learn about God and to remember all of the incredible things God has done for us through Jesus, His Son.
Secondly, I also want my children to know that Church is a place where all people are valued. I want my girls to know that they are a part of something bigger RIGHT NOW. They are not a nuisance, the are a part of something bigger than themselves… something God specially designed to carry out His purpose to the world. They are not a part of the Body to come, but they are a integral part of the Body in the present, the here and now. Are we perfect? Absolutely not!! But that’s the beauty of God using His Church to work around us…. He takes us in our weaknesses so that we can see His Spirit working through us. My children can grow the kingdom of God! I have seen many children come to our mid-week program through the invitation of our Cornerstone kids and I know many children, Libby included, who are excited to be able to talk about Jesus with their classmates.
Lastly, I want my children to learn what God wants to teach them. There are so many times that Libby has learnt of the things of God from simply spending time in the service. She has asked me questions regarding the songs (“What does Hallelujah mean?”), regarding the sermon, which I once assumed she wasn’t listening to (“What does obedience mean?”), and she is learning so much from watching what we ALL do (“Why do we stand?”, “Why do some people put up their hands?”, “What’s the bread for?”, “What’s that picture on the screen mean?”, etc, etc).
So what am I asking of you, the Church? Please understand that my husband and I aren’t perfect (and I’m sure other parents would agree they aren’t either) and we will get frustrated, but we’re trying to teach our children about something that is bigger than any of us. It can be exhausting for some of us, to look for teachable moments, or to keep a toddler engaged (hence the snacks!). But you know what? A smile from across the room, or a knowing nod can be such an encouragement to a parent’s heart. Older people, please encourage our young families who are trying teach their children the ways of our God. Please don’t treat our children like an annoyance, and please don’t judge our parents purely on their children’s behavior. Kids will be kids and we all have bad days. If you’re around children at all, you probably know that Sundays have that special way of getting children completely off routine, causing more meltdowns… maybe it’s God’s way of teaching families to rely on Him and His Church… who knows! I am asking that you extend grace to us, as parents, and come along side us to support and encourage us. It is hard to raise a family in this age, and families are being attacked at every level, so please pray for us and lift us up to God.
Lastly, if you take nothing else from this article, please hear me when I say the children are watching EVERYTHING that happens on a Sunday. They are not just looking at the stage, they are looking everywhere. They are not just watching the leaders, they are watching YOU. They are not just hearing the words that are being spoken or sung, they are watching your actions and how you are responding to what’s being said. And they are not only watching you in the pews… they are watching you in the foyer, in the gym, while you drink your coffee and in the parking lot. And please, I beg of you as a mother who whole heartedly wants my children to fall completely in love with Jesus, show my kids what it’s like to be 100% in love with God. Please extend the love and grace that God has given to you to my children. How great it would be that by the time the children in our church can first say “Jesus”, they have already experienced His grace and love through people of the Church thousands of times! And I’m not talking about in the nurseries, or the CE wing, but in our pews and foyer…. can I hear a “Hallejuah!!”