Preparing Your Heart For Worship: What do I do with my kid?
When you have small children, parenting is already difficult. When you throw in the environment of a pandemic it seems doubly so. These days are challenging. Most likely, you are tired of being indoors and not having playdates with other families. The constant demands of feeling like you must keep your child occupied (or entertained) make you long for ‘nap time’ (either theirs or your own). My heart goes out to young families. I have been praying especially for you during this time of crisis.
Many parents look forward to Sunday mornings. It is a time not only to fellowship with other moms and dads, but also a time their children can be under someone else’s care so you can have the time to focus on the ministry of the word. Perhaps in reading the new policies of re-opening the church make you feel that your kids are not welcome. That is far from the case. Churches should always welcome children in the name of Jesus. It is very clear in the Bible that we are to do so. Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) ‘Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.’ Earlier in Matthew, Jesus warns those unwilling to receive children and causing them to stumble. Matthew 18:5-6 (ESV) “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Therefore, churches should do all they can to help children facilitate a connection to the Lord Jesus.
But raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is not just about Sunday School, day camps, VBS, and nurseries. Those are added luxuries. It is about how you, the parent guide their hearts in all of life situations. The classic Biblical text on parenting is Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (ESV) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Note how Moses says you teach as you go about your daily activities. That would include during pandemics as well as our times of worship. The Lord is providing you golden moments to teach of his goodness and grace during one of the more trying seasons of our lives.
So when we re-gather to worship, take time to talk to your kids beforehand. Let them know they might see some people wearing masks in order to prevent getting sick or causing others to get sick. Let them know they can love others better right now by staying closer to mommy and daddy and asking before they hug someone. Let them know that not only God but also Pastor Blair wants them to sing the hymns, listen to the sermon, and the Bible readings and draw him pictures of what they hear. If our nation was under persecution, you would have to do the same.
But Parents also know this. Your church family is for you and not against you. We know how tough this may be for you. So you can count on us to help. We understand if you have to slip out of the service and take a walk to calm an anxious baby. We will understand if a child forgets his or herself and accidentally runs down the hall, touches everything in sight, and (heaven forbid) hugs a fellow believer. We know you are trying your best to follow the new procedures, and we will help you. Therefore, you can count on the Lord’s people to extend you grace as much as you extend grace to us. We welcome you and your children. And as far as you are comfortable we want you worshipping with us.
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