I remember the first time we brought our oldest daughter to church. She was about a month old, and she had basically never been out of my arm's reach. We dropped her off screaming at the nursery, and as we sat in our pew holding hands I remember thinking how sweet it was to be able to worship without distraction. I was thankful there was a place where she would be loved and cared for, and I was thankful it was not with me.
Well, she's seven now. And we've made a spot in our pew.
Church is different with a kid in the room. Not necessarily better or worse, but different. Some Sundays it's hard work to be a parent during a worship service. It's tempting to think that we're wasting our time and energy, that the hour she spends beside me on Sunday mornings isn’t worth it.
But big church is worth it for our children. Here's why:
They're learning to be church members.
We want our children to love the Church, not just now but for the rest of their lives. Bringing them into the worship service gives us the chance to begin training them in that direction. Sure, they won't know the words to all the songs or be able to understand an entire sermon, but they have to start somewhere.
If your kids are really young, simply begin by teaching them to follow the motions of a service: sitting, standing, closing eyes during prayers, opening Bibles, etc. Remember that you are teaching them skills you hope they'll teach their children someday.
They're hearing the Bible.
Your children's little ears will hear a lot of words on a Sunday morning, but none of them are as important as the Word of God. There is something powerful about showing your child that the Book in their lap is the same as the one on the pulpit and all around the room. Big church lets us demonstrate for our kids how to love and revere the Bible.
They're watching you.
They're watching when you sing. Or when you don't sing.
They're watching when you follow along in your Bible with reverence. Or when you check Facebook on your phone.
They're watching when you pray at the altar, submitting to your Father's will. And one of these days, the kid who sits by you during church may walk the aisle and be saved.
SGBC offers a Worship Notes sheet for children, and beginning this Sunday, an updated version will be available! Our prayer is that it will help them – and you – as you worship together.