At the request of one of our congregants—a mother with young children—I have decided to focus this week’s edition of Wednesday Morning Staff Meeting on some things I shared this Sunday past about parents bringing young ones to church and into the service with the adults.
Several things motivated me to share the encouragement on Sunday and it may be helpful for you to know what they were. First, I have been both impressed with and edified by parents’ willingness to get to church with their kids in tow during these somewhat frustrating days of COVID restrictions.
Second, I have seen parents with young children frustrated with how Sundays have transpired and I desire to encourage them so they do not “grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
Third, I truly love having the children join us in our services and confess that there was self-interest in encouraging parents to come with the young ones.
Finally, I believe family units participating in the gathering of the disciples is biblical, and thus beneficial, and we as a church and they as children are better off for having them with us.
So, if you are a parent of young children, let the following be an encouragement to you if you are frustrated with, or having second thoughts about, bringing your children to service on these COVID Sundays.
I decided to use a persuasive tactic that is seen throughout the Bible which I have heard called “arguing from the lesser to the greater.” I wanted to convince our parents with youngsters that, in spite of the difficulties, their attendance at services with their children was a really, really good thing even in a worst-case scenario. I did this with hopes that they would realize that if it was such a good thing in difficult times, how much more wonderful would it be in better times.
I asked them to imagine a scenario that was a type of worst-case that looked like this:
- Going to the effort of getting the family ready for church – feeding kids, clothing kids, driving kids, etc.
- Arriving at church and finding their seats – masks on and socially distanced of course
- Having a child completely lose it in the first few minutes of service – crying, acting up, getting sick and the like
- Leaving church having barely participated – frustrated at the seeming waste of time and perhaps embarrassment
With this scenario in their minds, I shared with them 10 reasons why their coming to church with their young kids was still an awesome thing; why their difficult experience of what seemed like a disaster of a Sunday was really a big win for them as parents, for their children, and for our church.
Here are the 10 reasons I gave explaining why experiencing a worst-case scenario like the one described was still a massive win:
- Modelling Obedience – The Bible indicates that we are not to forsake gathering together (Heb. 10:25) and attending church, even when it is difficult, is setting an example for their children which honours God.
- Developing Habits – Even in getting children to church, only to leave immediately, a parent is still helping their children develop faithful habits. Even though they left early, the habit of gathering with the saints on the Lord’s Day was still reinforced.
- Setting Priorities – The situation described would be really frustrating with the potential to discourage even the most determined parent, but persevering in the practice of bringing kids to church even when there is no children’s programming teaches these young minds that gathering to worship God is one of the most important things we do. Young children will quickly learn that this is a priority.
- Family Awareness – Even attending a church service for only 5 minutes will remind young children that they are part of a larger family unit; they are part of the family of God and they have brothers and sisters in Christ. Even in a meltdown-shortened gathering young eyes will see their larger Christian family, young ears will hear their brothers and sisters in the Lord.
- Their Sanctification – Parents who have brought their children to church and struggle through a situation like the one described can be assured and encouraged to know that God is using this for their sanctification. Older, mature parents will tell you that God uses our children to conform us into the image of his Son, especially when things are frustrating and difficult.
- Our Sanctification – You need to realize that when your children “act up” during a service and make a little too much noise or cause us to be distracted, God is using them to sanctify us as well; and that’s a great thing. Our emotions might not align with that truth, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
- Our Joy – Many, many congregants have mentioned to me that seeing the kids in our services causes joy to rise in their hearts. Even in the 5-minute meltdown debacle, our congregation still were able to see your wonderful children for a few moments and it brightened our day. This is the feedback I receive every week.
- Being Responsible – Our congregation has committed to help parents raise their children and every time the children are with us they remind us of our responsibility and give us opportunity to live it out. That is true even when children have a rough Sunday morning; perhaps it is even truer then.
- Wise Parenting – When our parents of young children show up on a Sunday with their children, even if it is a bit of a gong show like the one described above, they model wise parenting to the rest of the congregation. This is especially important to the young adults who, Lord willing, will have children of their own. They are demonstrating to others what a wise parent looks like.
- Happy Pastor – My final reason why parents who have brought their children to church and experienced a less than ideal time are still winning big-time is rather self-serving. This scenario is still a “win” because they have made their pastor happy. I truly love seeing the kids in our services. I love looking out from the pulpit and seeing the little ones. It has been an amazing silver-lining to all these COVID restrictions. I am thankful for these parents.
So parents, be encouraged. If the Sunday morning nightmare I have described is still a massive win for you, for your kids, and for the congregation—and I believe it is—be encouraged to persevere in your good work. Don’t let the momentary frustrations of parenting on Sunday morning that goes awry detract from the wonderful impact your faithfulness is having in all of us, yourself included.
Thank you for bringing your kids. It really is for God’s glory and for our good!