The discipline topic leads right into training your children for worship. I’m not sure that I actually “worshipped” the Lord from about 1980 until about 1992. I felt like I spent most of that time taking children in and out of worship service. Sometimes I wondered if God even knew I had been in worship services that day. Wayne and I started out a little rocky with our first two boys in worship. By the time the third one came along, I knew we needed help and needed to do something different. I knew it was my job to train my children to be reverent and respectful in worship service because of Hebrews 12:28, 29. I also knew that the sooner I started the better. So I went to some of the older women in the congregation and they gave me some life saving advice (and I mean the lives of my children).
Sit at the front.
Quit sitting at the back of the auditorium. They said that most children weren’t being trained back there and that my children would act like all of the others. By this time we had four little boys and we moved to the front of the auditorium. I mean, we were five rows from the front. All I could think of was how we were now going to disturb the entire congregation and not just the back few pews.
Everyone sits on the pew. No getting in the floor.
Make them ALL sit on the pew. As soon as the 2 younger boys could sit up we would start sitting them on the pew. (Obviously they didn’t stay for long, but we kept sitting them back down.) This was easy with some of them and a whole lot of work with the others. But we held to our rules. No one played in the floor!
Bring a church bag.
We let each of the children have a small church bag. This was a small bag with crayons, a pencil, a coloring book, whatever “quiet” items we put in it for the service. I quickly learned that I didn’t want to put a whole lot of stuff in each bag or the bag became a problem. Also, the items in these bags were only used during worship services so they were special. We also changed them every now and then to keep their interest.
Out you go!
We allowed no noise. This started with our infants/toddlers. Training begins as they start making noise. Tap their mouth with your finger and tell them “No, no.” This is the beginning of their training. They MUST learn to be respectful in worship service. If they don’t quiet down, take them out and get them quiet. As they got a little older, if they got chatty I would tell them to hush and if they didn’t, their mouth got popped. If that produced an ugly reaction, or they didn’t get quiet, I took them out for a swat. If they got too noisy with their church bag, they were warned and if they didn’t quiet down, I took them out for a swat and they didn’t get their bag back.
As they got older I could snap my fingers at them and they would straighten up. If they didn’t… out you go! As teens they could hear me snap all the way across the auditorium and if they didn’t stop talking I would get up and walk over to them and… out you go! (I only had to do that once. :o) ) I also took my children to the restroom between class and worship and also made sure they got a drink, because once we got past the potty training years they weren’t allowed to go out during worship.
Come right back in.
This was another piece of great advice I was given. Take them out, swat them, if necessary, quiet them down and bring them back in. If not, they will learn by about 10 months old that if they fuss they can go to the nursery and play. This IS NOT training! Well, it is… it’s training them to be in charge again.
At first I worried about being such a distraction to everyone as I traipsed in and out of worship services. But the older women were SO encouraging and told me that I was doing as God commanded and my children were being trained. After applying all of that advice my children sat in worship and weren’t a distraction to those around them. They learned to be respectful in worship service.
God knows you’re there! You are bringing glory to Him by bringing up children that will walk in the light and there is no greater joy than that (3 John 1:4). Parenting is not for the weak. You are not weak!! Remember Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You can do this with God’s help! But you better get busy now. :o)