On any given day of the week, you’ll find my boys in Red Sox t-shirts.
They know the Red Sox stats.
They know who’s pitching each game.
They know who’s “hot” and who’s having a “dry spell”.
My boys love the Red Sox! Do you know why? It’s because their dad and I love the Red Sox!
We know the Red Sox stats.
We know who’s pitching each game.
We know who’s “hot” and who’s having a “dry spell”.
I may not wear a Red Sox t-shirt everyday, but I certainly have my own special stash of Red Sox fan gear.
All we had to do to get our boys to love our team was to spend time watching games, talk excitedly, and invest in Red Sox “stuff”.
I even have some special "girly" Red Sox bling!
It’s much the same when it comes to building a love for the church. If our children know that we truly love our church; they will quickly learn to love the church as well.
Knowing that we love our church isn’t just a matter of saying how we feel. Our kids need to see us practicing tangible actions of love toward our church. They need to see that we love the church body. The more involved we are in loving the church and the more we include our children in those loving actions, the more they will develop not just a love for the church, but a sense of ownership toward the church, as well.
There are lots of opportunities to show our children how to love the church. All of them involve serving others and looking for pro-active opportunities to invest in the local body of believers.
Consider the physical structure of your church. There are bathrooms to clean, weeds to pull, nursery toys to be disinfected, lost and found items to be sorted, hymnals to be straightened…the list of needs is almost limitless.
If your children are small, start small. When my children were little we would go to the church midweek and they would walk up and down each row straightening the visitor cards and making sure that the hymnals all faced the same direction. I continually complimented them on their hard work and reminded them to do the job well.
As my children worked, I spent time talking to them about how excellent our God was and how we could show people His excellence by making sure that His sanctuary looked clean and orderly. When we arrived at church on Sunday morning, my children would be so excited to see how nice the sanctuary looked, in part because of their hard work.
Not sure what needs to be done? Ask a pastor or deacon. Whenever we asked for service projects to complete, the church leadership had more than enough ideas to get us started!
Besides the physical building, there are many ways that our children can serve the body. As they serve others, they will learn to love people that may not be just like us, or that may not even know us. What a wonderful lesson.
For many years, before we arrived at church each Sunday, I would instruct my children to look around the church and find two things. First, they were to find a person who was serving that day. I encouraged them to look beyond the folks who were serving up front and to look for those “quiet” servants, serving the body behind the scenes.
Secondly, I instructed them to watch closely for any member of the body who seemed to need encouragement. Regardless of the age of the person, my children learned to identify needy people.
Then, on Monday, we would all sit together and write notes to the people whom we had observed the previous day. The children would write thank you notes to the church’s servants and notes of encouragement to the needy folks they observed.
Those notes built bridges of communication and relationship between my children and people of all ages and types. We spent time praying for the people that we wrote to and those prayers gave us the opportunity to further reach out.
Speaking of praying…One of the best ways for your children to learn to love the church is to pray for the church. We took two glass jars and wrote the names of all people we wanted to pray for on individual file tabs. We wrote down everyone and everything we could think of including missionaries, ministries, and regular members and visitors.
Each day, during our family devotions, we would pass the prayer jar and each family member would pull one tab to pray for that day. After praying, we put the tabs into the second jar. Once the first jar was empty, we celebrated with ice cream and then started all over the next day. Regularly praying for the church and its ministries made my children feel invested and involved.
Children, who have developed a sense of ownership and a deep love for their church, will be excited to go worship. Many of our struggles to teach our children to sit quietly and pay attention will be taken care of as they embrace the church as their own.
When my husband was a pastor, he would tell all of the church’s children that they had a key role in helping with his sermon. He would explain that as they sat still and didn’t draw attention to themselves, they were helping him to preach with clarity. He would praise them for not distracting those around them.
Instead of just sitting still because they were told to, the children began to understand that as they paid attention, they were helping those around them to concentrate and pay attention, as well. We told our own children frequently that we just never knew who desperately needed to hear the message.
What a shame it would be if that person missed what God had for them because we were a distraction!
With their growing understanding of the importance of their responsibility during the worship service came a desire to do all that they could to further, rather than hinder the message. What a joy it was for me to praise them for their others-oriented behavior.
Yes, worship with children can be wonderful. And, when that worship stems from a genuine love and concern for the body of Christ, it is wonderful for the whole family.
God bless you as you worship together!