Sunday Worship: A Family Affair or Not?

How do you normally spend your Sunday mornings? For some, Sunday mornings revolves around attending a church service and hopefully, a nice brunch afterwards at a local café. For some, however, the thought of having young children among the congregation, for an hour-long church service, is just as bad, if not worse, as a poorly prepared sermon given by a monotone preacher!

toddler, church, worship, family worshipMost regular churchgoers know about the babbling toddlers who insist on babbling alongside the preacher’s sermon. It seems no matter where you plant yourself in the church, the babbling toddlers find you and in the next hour or so, you wonder what to do.

Should you try to decipher the preacher’s sermon lesson as your head is uncontrollably nodding itself to sleep or simply give in to the toddler’s distracting babble and try your hand at understanding and translating the toddler dialect instead?

Hmm, as you ponder this great mystery, you may begin to wonder as well; maybe young children belong in the age appropriate children’s church instead?

I say, no! Children should be encouraged to attend Sunday services with their family from an early age. Having children learn patience through “uninteresting” events–no offense to any pastors out there– is lessons that may help to squish the, BUT…BUT… “I thought the world revolved around me,” syndrome!

One may argue, but why not offer an age appropriate Sunday service for the children. I simply have to disagree because this demonstrates to the children that one; you do not ever need to learn to be patient especially if boredom sets in! Second, families really should worship together. I love seeing a whole family take up the entire pew.

I know, you say it is hard to discipline and train kids to sit relatively still and remain relatively quiet. Yikes! As adults, do we sometimes have to practice such atrocities?

Of course, we need these skills and so much more the reason to have children become part of the Sunday church congregation to learn these waiting skills. This may seem unattainable but I know a young couple from church who believes in rearing their children in the church. They have a six-year-old boy, two-year-old girl and less than a year old baby just starting to learn how to stand. Their children do not go over to the nursery or children’s church. Every Sunday they worship together. Both parents actively supervise their children, quietly reprimand the older two if need be and the mom uses the baby sling and breastfeeding method to keep their baby calm.

I am not sure how much of the sermon the parents actually hears to gain any wisdom from it, but it may be just a passing season for them. During this lean winter months, they may find little to nourish their own souls but instinctively feed their growing family first. As the children get older, I suspect the solid foundation built will allow the parents to relax and hear more of the sermon. Once the children grow up and branch out on their own, the parents can finally enjoy the warm and lovely season, summer. In peace.

What do you think?

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Do you feel children should attend Sunday worship with their family instead of an age appropriate children church services?

 

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Inspiration came from this,  Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap.

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22 thoughts on “Sunday Worship: A Family Affair or Not?

  1. Anna Drake-Ayala says:

    I’d say that you are spot on…in theory. In practice, I think it depends on the individual kid, his/her age level and what kind of service you are attending. My daughter went with my husband and I to an Episcopalian service, which is very structured and formal, and having a 1 1/2 year old at the time was a NO GO!! She couldn’t sit still long enough for us to enjoy any of the sermon. When I tried to keep her from “exploring,” she would scream bloody murder. The church didn’t have a nursery available, so we ended up just staying at home if we couldn’t bring her. While I would love for my daughter to be able to sit through a sermon, she hasn’t been able to do so until recently (she is now 3 going on 4.) This may also be partially because our international church takes place in a movie theatre and theatre-style seating doesn’t allow for much movement.

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    • Sunshine says:

      Anna,
      Thank you for sharing your experience with family worship. I personally love attending theatre-style seating worship services and I think it is more child friendly.

      I agree that each child’s temperament will determine how the family will incorporate worship time whether together or separately. Loving parents like yourself who try to make the ideal work first but go on to adapt as needed is hard work but what a fine example for your own children.

      Thank you for sharing your experience and all the best to you, Anna. 🙂

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  2. utesmile says:

    It is good to get children into church early than it is not an alien thing for them later. My toddlers always were ok, luckily but I do feel sorry for some parents whose children just cannot sit calmly for a while. The parents won’t have much of the service trying to calm their children constantly. In our church we are all together and after a while the youngsters go out for the last half an hour to do age appropriate things. I think that is a good compromise.

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    • Sunshine says:

      Yes, bringing children to worship as early as possible probably is a good thing and having options as your church offers, Utesmile also a real good thing. It helps to have options for those toddlers, as you mention, that do not have the disposition to sit quietly for an extended period of time.

      Thanks! 🙂

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  3. island traveler says:

    Wonderful post. Sunday for me, church at 0800, Christian Class for my son at 0915, then school tutorial at 1030. If I’m off from work, it family lunch out afterwards. If not we have take outs , have lunch at home and family t.v. time before going to sleep in preparation for my night shift work. As you can see sleep is more of a luxury than a norm on Sundays for me. Have a blessed day.

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    • Sunshine says:

      Oh dear, island T., your Sunday looks like a Monday!!!
      Seriously, I hope you get one day to just chill…I’m putting that on a prayer request line! 😉
      Thanks for sharing….I am grateful.

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  4. Caddo Veil says:

    I think the parents need undistracted time to hear and absorb God’s message so that they are built up and strengthened to be better spouses and parents–And I think as soon as the kids are able to sit quietly (coloring, whatever), they’re most welcome to sit with their parents. I was raised in the Episcopal church–and it irked me to be pulled out of church (at jr high age!!) and sent downstairs to Sunday School, when I had a mature hunger for God and would have benefited from “adult church”… God bless you Sunshine–love, sis Caddo

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    • Sunshine says:

      Family worship for the serious minded parent, I would imagine, can be a challenge, especially when I see parents with very young children. The nice thing about it all is the children eventually mature and for those who persevered during those difficult times, things usually fall into place. (as it seems to do over at our church…)

      Seeing from your experience, I think church congregations should treat children on individual basis and not like cattle herd. seriously.

      I am so glad you pointed this out, sis. Thanks, and mucho blessings to you! 🙂

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  5. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin says:

    AS WITH MOST ISSUES…I DOUBT THAT THIS COULD BE ALL BLACK OR ALL WHITE…KIDS REALLY WOULD PROBABLY WANT TO BE WITH OTHER CHILDREN…AND WHEN I HAVE HAD YOUNGSTERS …THERE WAS A LESSON PREPARED FOR THEM ON THEIR LEVEL…AT A CERTAIN AGE THESE ALREADY PREPARED KIDS…WOULD GO FORWARD TO “big” CHURCH…AND BE READY TO SIT AND UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGES BEING DELIVERED TO THEM AS WELL AS THE PARENTS…THERE IS A TIME FOR ALL THINGS…BUT, SOMETIMES WE NEED TO GROW A LITTLE SLOWER BEFORE WE TAKE ON THE BIG ISSUES…MKG

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    • Sunshine says:

      I HEAR you Marilyn…a tough subject this family worship. After reading the comments from different parents and their own experiences, I think one can safely say that family worship would have to be based on the individual children within their family and hopefully the church congregation lends a BIG hand supporting these parents.

      Our church does have a nursery and some parents use it but others opt to keep their young ones in service with them.

      I like your thought:

      “THERE IS A TIME FOR ALL THINGS…BUT, SOMETIMES WE NEED TO GROW A LITTLE SLOWER BEFORE WE TAKE ON THE BIG ISSUES…”

      So true…

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  6. Laura Catherine says:

    I agree. Our former pastor used to say that babbling children were just a part of the liturgy. “Suffer not children…” I think God rewards our efforts to bring our children and ourselves to Him.

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    • Sunshine says:

      I love when churches have attached cry rooms to their sanctuary, Angelswhisper. It makes it easy for everyone including the kids. Every church should have one–like a mandatory rule or something. *laugh-laugh*
      Thanks!!!!

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  7. eof737 says:

    Where did you get this topic from? Just curious… I’m all for kids at church and Sunday school. I taught Sunday School when my kids were younger… and enjoyed it very much… 😉

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    • Sunshine says:

      Um, topic? You mean concerning Sunday Worship or the writing challenge having children into adult oriented places? You got me confused as I probably got you totally confused. My apologies… 😦

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  8. rommel says:

    Engaging one, Sunshine. I’m afraid I’m going to a different direction. To each their own, right? The real reason why we have a church is to spread and to receive the holy words. All the material, technical, physical things shouldn’t get in the way. If they have an age-appropriate, then it’s cool. If a family who lives together wants to pray together, then it’s cool too. I’m saying, I think it should be an option. It’d be a good thing for a family to have that option

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    • Sunshine says:

      I love your perspective, Rommel, and having options is good only if, and I say it gently, if these options are used as the last resort and not as the norm. Does that make sense?
      Anyway, I do agree with you, options are handy to have if some children need age-appropriate worship…I’m really easy to convince. 🙂

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