Family integrated worship……..what was that all about? I just knew going to church and having my children and I go our separate ways. Then I learned that there were families that sit together in service under the teaching of their pastor. How enjoyable to be able to worship God together and share in the excitement of what God is doing!!!They learn to sit and respect the direction of their pastor and they learn what it means to be reverent.
As a side note, I am not against having children’s church or nursery for children. I think it is a great resource for people. Sometimes that might be the only sanity that a mom or dad may have and I am thankful for the people that volunteer their time to help in that area of ministering. I am just sharing what it is WE do as a family. What WE do is NOT for everyone. I don’t believe that EVERYONE should have 10 children. Just as I don’t believe every woman should wear skirts only. These are things that the Lord has shows US to do. We can’t all be confined to the same mold, it doesn’t make our world go around. Back to my post…..
When the Lord started showing us family integrated worship, I knew there was not a whole lot of churches in our area that did this, in fact I didn’t even know of one, but God did. He found us a small church, that needed a worship team and we were able to transfer over. It was still within our denomination, it was just a start up church looking for individuals to help, and that is what our family did best. My family helped with the music, we were able to help serve and the pastor was supportive of having the children stay in church with us. It was a great learning experience for me. There was no nursery to run to, when the little one got loud, it was an open building. At this time, I wasn’t doing the bench practice with my children—because life was even busier with 6 little ones under 7 years of age.
My husband said, well the best place to practice is to start by taking them to church and teaching them. So we did.
Now some days were worse than others. I’d love to say that they all sat attentively ALL of the time, but they didn’t. Each time we left, I would share with them what we needed to work on the next week. As the week’s went by, they got better and better.
This was how our typical Sunday went….
Before we got out of the van, I kindly reminded them what we need to work on at church that day. Then I prayed(for myself). We did bathroom breaks and diaper changes before worship.
During worship time, our pastor encouraged them to sing and play the child instruments. To avoid any, off beat playing by my children, I was quick to grab the drums or louder instruments when the music switched over to a quieter song. We encouraged them to stand up and sing to God at this time. We listened to this type of music at home all day long and they have learned the words by repetition. The baby usually fell asleep during this time.
After worship, my family returns and I can let down my guard a bit. My husband and I have the younger ones on either side of us and we hold the baby. The other younger ones we placed between the older ones. We are very blessed to have a pastor and congregation be patient with our little ones during service. It is much more encouraging for me as a mother to know that we aren’t looked down upon because we want to include them in service.
Of course, I brought things to occupy them, I have even resorted to bringing out my phone to play a movie with no sound in order to avoid a meltdown—-I know not good–smile.
I had church bags that I made for each child when they were little. I used these ONLY during Sunday service. It included toys and things that they never played with except on Sunday. I bought small tote bags from the craft store and ironed on transfer letters with their names.
I put their bibles, a writing notebook, a pencil and some reading books in the bags. I had some small toys I would put for the younger ones like a slinky, small car, a mini baby, baby beads, and a small Noahs ark set.
I also packed pretzels and drinks, but usually kept those for after service. Sometimes service was longer and I could tell blood sugars were low, I then resorted to pretzels which are less mess than cereal or crackers.
After service, they got up to go have a snack in the fellowship area. Then I would load them up as soon as possible, otherwise they would take off running. My husband and older children were busy loading up the sound equipment, so I was on my own.
I could probably of practiced more at home, and got them to all sit perfectly still like I did the older ones, but I didn’t. I think having more children has made me more relaxed in what I do. I no longer feel like we have to conform to a certain set mold. Church is enjoyable for me now, I actually get to worship and learn as a mom with 6 little ones, who would’ve thought??
Now fast forward to the present day. My youngest is two years old. Church is no longer hard. We can all sit in service pretty well. I still have to make sure that I am prepared. We try and get everyone to the bathroom before service begins. I still separate children in service. We bring along a church bag with bibles, paper and pencils, and small toys. We did have those magnetic boards for everyone but soon learned that they were extremely loud when the church was silent–those have since been removed from the bag. I find that my older ones sit and listen—I print off some sermon note learning papers I made and they are to complete one for service.
I try and keep it simple. The little ones may bring a matchbox car or small baby, but I have found that the more things I bring, the louder they get. They are usually just as happy with only 1-2 items. They learn to praise God, they learn to clap, and they learn to pray.
So which method do I recommend?? CONSISTENCY. Consistently go to church. Consistently take your children with you. Sit up in the very front row—to avoid distractions and to help them better pay attention. Practice at home if you want, but the best way to learn is to just DO. Think less is best. The less toys, to drop and make noise the better. Simplify.