I am the mommy of nine wonderful children. God happened to save the last two littlest ones for our older age and they happen to be two precious, rambunctious four and seven year old boys. To say that they have stretched the limits of our patience, at times, would be an understatement. If you were to sit behind us during the worship services, you might get some chuckles. But one thing you would not find, is us not participating in the training of our children. We take this very seriously.
After twenty-four years of training children, we still know how very important this is to our Lord. I won’t lie, there are days I am tired and wish I could just worship without the interruption of having to train my little ones, but one day that will happen for us. Our children are worth it, and more importantly than that, my God is worth it! Our children will not understand how important worship to our Savior is if we don’t teach them.
Simply showing up to the worship services and bringing our children is not enough. Our children need to understand what is going on during worship to be able to worship properly someday themselves. This won’t happen by osmosis. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go,?even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This takes work on our part and it can be somewhat frustrating at times. But the rewards will be eternal! I love to encourage young moms or dads when I see them frazzled from a long morning of training their children, especially on days when the babies are extremely disobedient. Those days will pass if the parents are consistent and better days will soon be on the horizon.
There is no right or wrong way to train your children during worship. The only thing that I am certain of is that ultimately, the spiritual training of our children is the parent’s responsibility. To take this lightly is to risk their souls (Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:4-9). I would like to share some practical tips on training our children to not only sit quietly through the worship service, but to actually worship God and to understand what is happening during the most important time of our week. These are some things that we have tried throughout the years and have had some success with. Hopefully, these ideas will spur you on to ideas of your own.
Remember that it is never too late to start. No matter what age your child is, you can jump right in and begin to train your child. Of course, the earlier you start, the easier the process will be, but don’t be discouraged if you have to start later in the process. Your child will benefit from your love regardless!
Babies and Toddlers
• We never let our babies play on the floor. This way Baby always knows who is in control. If they can crawl around early on, eventually they will want a broader boundary out of your pew and you will be sorry you let it get started.
• I only use the nursery to nurse my babies, to change their diapers or to discipline them. I NEVER let them play with the toys most nurseries offer. I know it is tempting, but it only takes once for a habit to be formed and the baby knows that it is more fun in the room behind the worship service.
• As soon as your baby is old enough to defy you during worship, they are old enough to discipline. I know this is difficult, but if they can scream in your face in defiance when you take away something they should not have, then they are old enough to get a pop in the fat of the thigh. I leave the assembly whispering into my child’s ear so that they don’t forget what they are being disciplined for, “You are getting a spanking for tearing the song book”, all the way out the door and I quickly swat their little thigh. And for the record, there is a difference between a baby chattering and yelling in the face of their mommy or daddy. I am not speaking about infants but children somewhere between 9-12 months old.
• We have chosen to bring snacks and quiet books for our babies to keep them quiet during worship. Like I pointed out earlier, all the toys, snacks and drinks are in the pew, and are never offered in the nursery. This way the worship service is the place to be, not outside of the worship service.
(Part 2-to be continued)
Editor’s note: This two-part article goes particularly well with the latest in our series on raising faithful children by Tami Roberts.
By Laura Warnes
Laura Warnes and her husband Jon serve with the Bear Valley church of Christ where they have been members for the last five years. Jon serves as a deacon. Laura is a homeschooling mom to their seven children still at home, (two have flown the coup) and is also a proud grandma to two beautiful granddaughters.