We just posted seven blogs about the purpose of church. I hope you get the heart behind these blogs… we want you to see that when you gather together on Sunday morning it is a time to worship God.
I want to encourage you to view the congregational gathering as a holy time. The people of God (as sinful as they may be!) are gathering together to worship God! I encourage you to sing the songs with all your heart, pray attentively, give wholeheartedly, partaking in the sacraments humbly, and listen to the preaching with all your heart.
I also encourage you to get your children involved in the worship service as well. Once they are at an age where they can sit still long enough then bring them out of the nursery and have them sit with you. Worship God as a family, with your church family!
Your kids may not be able to understand everything that is sung, taught, or done, but having them with you is important for several reasons. First, it is an opportunity for you as a family to worship God. I hope you do this throughout the week as well (more on that another time), but at the very least you should worship God together on Sunday.
Second, when you have your children with you at church it sends the message that church is important and should be taken seriously. Of course, they will need to see you taking it seriously as well.
Third, you never know what and when your children will start picking things up from the service. My five year old doesn’t really understand the sermons, but he recognizes Scripture verses that are read and certain songs that are sung. I am fine with him not understanding the entire message. As he gets older, he will pick up more.
Sadly, even if you bring your children into church, I think many of these benefits could be negated if parents are not careful. Parents need to send the right message. If your children look over and see you checking facebook, sleeping, daydreaming, or looking bored then they will not hold worship in high esteem. You as parents need to (genuinely) model it for them!
Another way parents send the wrong message is by allowing their children to play electronics during church. To allow your child to play electronic games during church is to say, “Just stay quiet and focus on your game while I worship God.”
Nothing good can come out of that. Not only is it bad for kids to play games too much but it is also training them to not pay attention in church. Is that the message you want your kids to receive when you go to worship God?
If your child is really young and needs a little help to make it through the service, then bring a few crayons and a couple pieces of paper. I have found drawing/coloring is not so consuming that they cannot draw and listen at the same time. However, even drawing should be temporary measure. By the time a child is about six (every child is different, of course), he/she should be able to sit through a 40 minute message without dying.
Parents, what kind of message you send to your children? That you love to worship God or that church is just an activity that you have to get through? After all, if you don’t teach them, who will? Especially if they are tuning the pastor out because they are playing their games.