Okay, you know you have seen her.
You know that Mom that walks in with her little children all lined up nice and neat–looking perfectly ready for church service? They sit down, smile politely, and shake hands nicely with everyone. Then they sit through service without hearing even a peep from their littlest one. The mom sits there with a calmness about her and she even appears to really be paying attention to what the pastor is speaking about. Not a child is misbehaving. They are sitting contentedly, patiently waiting for whatever is to come next.
Meanwhile…you look down at your little ones. You forgot to comb your little girls hair today. Your boys have stains dribbled down the front of their shirts from breakfast that morning. They are already bickering over who gets what book. Your little one is driving his cars over the pews and is making a loud noise. You are thankful for the music, because it drowns out the sound of them. You look forward to when the service begins just so that you can take them to classes and sit and enjoy the service. Oh, but wait…..today is a “special service” and there is NO CHILDRENS CHURCH!!!!!! Oh no! The panic then starts to take over. You realize that you are going to have to make it through the entire hour trying to keep them quiet. Forget about actually listening to the message, you need to work at keeping your children quiet. By the time church is finished, you have lightly pinched, given “the look”, and are exhausted from trying to keep a squirming toddler quiet. When you go to leave, there are cheerios under your seats, toys sprawled upon the floor, and your children are ready to go!!!
Sound all too familiar??? I agree. That was me, many times at church. I almost dreaded even going, because it was too much work to try and keep everyone in line for services. I regret to say,that I chose multiple times to just stay home because sometimes it was just too much and I didn’t even want to deal with that seemingly overwhelming task.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I have been going to church with my children for about 16 years. We have tried numerous methods. I have observed various mothers and I have read a lot of magazines and books. I want to share the different ways that we have tried to help our children learn to be quiet. Is any way better than the others?? When you get to the end, you will know what method works best for us. The one that I wish I would have just done straight from the beginning. But I will share our journey, so you can see that it was far from perfect and we had to work at what we have.
Now this is going way back…….but years ago when we first started going to church and we had 4 little ones we would have practice time each day. This was when life was much easier and I HAD time to do things. (smile) We would set the dining room table bench in the middle of the floor and I would have the 4 children sit on it. Then I would either read a devotion book to them or we would listen to radio programs on cassette. We started out slow, maybe 15 minutes for a few days, then added 15 more minutes, every few days. We worked up to the 2 hours that we would be sitting in church.
During that time, I wouldn’t allow any type of fidgeting or talking. Lots of praise and being consistent were very important. Eventually they would sit for the full church time, without a single bribing toy. We made sure that they had a drink, were not hungry, and had gone to the bathroom before we even began.
This method worked. It took practice and consistency, to teach my children how to sit for long periods of time. But I made the time for this to work. I just set aside that 15 minutes every day for our “training time.” I had to be adamant about doing it every day and it worked.
Then the Lord gave us five years with no babies…..a time to prepare for our second half.(smile) We had a baby pretty much every year and year and a half. My days were busy. It was a constant pattern of feedings, diaper changes, cleaning up, feedings, diaper changes, and cleaning up. Over and over that was the routine of my life. There was ZERO time for anything else. Absolutely no time for training, I barely had time to get ready myself for the day. But I still had to go to church on Sundays.
The church we attended during that time had a nursery. After praise and worship were done, off I went with my little ones to sit in the nursery. There weren’t usually any others, so it was just us. I would spend my time holding a baby, while watching my other ones play. By the time church was finished, they were tired, hungry, and ready to go home. Sometimes, I would go home and think to myself “Why did I even go to church today, it would have been much easier to just stay at home?” At least my little ones could play within the normal confines of the home and I could watch a preacher or read my bible, without too many distractions. I definitely was NOT in the right heart mode at that time. But I am a work-in-progress and the Lord had to work on my heart as He still does in my life.
I was thankful for the times that the Lord did allow me to minister to some other mothers who would occasionally come back and sit in the nursery with me. It was a struggle for all of us with little ones. Life can be hard, going to church can be hard, but coming together with the body of Christ is good for our spirit. Sometimes you have to find even the littlest of joys in your situations. There might be that single mom, who will come back and share her struggles of life. If I would have been at home, by myself, God wouldn’t of been able to use me to minister to her in her time of need and I would of missed out on God’s blessing.
Then the Lord opened our eyes to something new. Something I was unfamiliar with. He started showing us family integrated worship. Hmmmm that looked nice. All of the family TOGETHER, learning about God, being ministered to, and praising God. I had to learn more…………so I did.