We have four boys, ages 11, 7, 2 and 3 months. Our two year old is loud. In church he dances all over the place and yells things during prayer. Even when he whispers you can hear it four pews away. Yes, our church has pews. At our church the kids stay in the main service during worship.
So how do you worship when you have little kids? Here are a few things God has shown me over the years.
Don’t Model Embarrassment
Your kids are going to become like you. They learn from your actions more than your words. What do you want to model for them in worship? Are you going to sit in the back because they are so loud and you are embarrassed? What does that teach them? We need to hide our messiness from the church and from God? Sit in the front.
What are the little things you do during church teaching your children?
Talk to Them in Worship
You have your mind focused on God. You are thinking about all the amazing things He has done for you. You can feel the Holy Spirit. Does that mean you can’t talk to your kids? No, it means you have to talk to them from the heart.
Lets suppose you are in worship and your kids start fighting. Separate them. Then use your prepared heart to try and draw them in. I will take one of my fighting children, put an arm around them and talk to them about God. I usually start by asking them if they understand the song, or what we are doing. Or I ask about a symbol in the church. What does that dove mean son? As soon as I find something they are interested in I answer their questions from a place of worship.
Discipline is Part of Worship
Kids need discipline. Adults need discipline from God. We need it to make us better people. We need it to be happy. Why would this not be part of worship?
Christians claim to be a family of God. We claim to be a community of deep love. And in this family of love am I afraid to discipline my child the way I would at home? Why? I am not saying you should spank your toddler in front of the whole church. But I have heard the excuse many times that parents can’t make their kids listen in church because they can’t discipline them there. I do it all the time.
Time out. Take away a toy. For older kids taking away a privilege later. All these are effective means that can be done right in your seat. What if they still don’t listen. Then you pull them out of the middle of the service and deal with it thoroughly. Last month I made our two year old take a nap in another room for half the service. He screamed bloody murder. Some people heard it. I missed part of the service, but the last few weeks have been much better.
Use Their Presence to Make Your Worship More Authentic
Our kids aren’t going to be perfect. We often put up such a perfect image in worship. We are clean and nicely dressed and happy and singing with our hands lifted up. Our kids bring a dose of real life into worship. Use it. Your kids are part of you and you of them. The things they do right or wrong are also in you. Take everything you are, kids included, and place it before God.