Our church is very child-friendly and does not have a nursery. It doesn't bother our pastor or the members to have wiggly toddlers making noises throughout the service. (At least that's what I've been told. I truly think Abby's noises bother me more than they do others.) I've been on Pinterest and received inspiration about busy bags. We've tried lots of things to distract her and just keep her quiet. That's what I've seen other parents doing so I thought that's what you do at this age. Well, Robbie has helped me understand it's important to teach your child(ren) to be an active listener and participant in the worship service. She explains how she once attended church for her own benefit and blessing, but then realized she should be there to worship and bring glory to God. This point was important to me as I found it so difficult when Abby was an infant to attend services. It seemed I never got anything out of the service, but I think God was more pleased with me making the commitment to be at church. Some days I wanted to listen to the pastor in the nursery, but was interrupted by other moms sharing their needs. Those sacrifices only last so long and soon your child is entering a new stage . . . toddlerhood.
Robbie provides these suggestions for parents:
- It's the responsibility of parents not Sunday School teachers or Junior Church teachers to teach children how to worship. (And I'm not convinced that Sunday School/Junior Church is biblical).
- Worship does take work and requires preparation on Saturday, not just Sunday morning.
- Teach your child to tithe with their first gifts of money. I remember tithing a penny out of my first dime!
- Make sure your children sit with you as they grow up. Eliminate diversions and this includes children sitting with their little friends.
- Teach them at an early age to sing hymns as you point out the words for them to follow.
- Teach them to imagine the story that is taking place as they sit through an instrumental song or offertory.
- Ask questions about the sermon afterward to see how much they understood.
- Don't allow the child to leave for bathroom breaks unless it's an emergency. Take them before the service and avoid the shiny water fountain.
I think it's important for families to worship God throughout the week. And it doesn't necessarily have to be too structured at first. Sit down and have prayer when you hear that someone has passed away or get a call about a loved one's car accident. Read a Bible story to them before they go to bed. Tell and act out a Bible story. I know it's frustrating when they are little and don't want to finish, but it's preparing them for more later. Keep those appetizers coming!
Robbie is a Presbyterian so there are references to their liturgical worship style and infant baptism. The book is ten years old, but I still found it relevant. I did purchase it used and wouldn't recommend purchasing it at full price (which I don't think I've ever done for any book). It is a short read at 139 pages, but seems to cover an oft-neglected topic. It definitely made me look at how I worship with differently.