Dear Mom with the Restless Little Ones in Church,
I see you.
I get it. I really do.
Going to church with kids – especially little ones – is not easy.
There are times when I honestly feel like going to church with kids is pointless. But here’s the grace filled reality that I cling to.
I am a mom who is sitting in the pews, just like you are, with a 5 year old, 3 year old and just turned 1 year old. This past Sunday was one of those Sundays that made me question my sanity.
My son fought me about getting dressed for church and complained the whole drive to church about why we have to go every single Sunday.
My newly potty trained daughter needed to use the bathroom right during one of my favorite hymns.
There was the constant prompting to my son to stand for prayers and liturgy.
There was the reminding to my 3 year old daughter to not take crayons from her brother.
And the baby? The baby is at the stage where she needs to nap (but won’t) because she doesn’t want to sleep when I am holding her. Even more challenging is when she just wants to use her new found voice to talk to everyone. Sigh.
I don’t recall the last sermon I heard in its entirety.
And honestly? Sometimes I am just counting the minutes, trying to keep the children quiet during that above mentioned sermon. Why do sermons ever go longer than 15 minutes anyway?
As exhausting as some Sunday mornings can be, we still go to church every Sunday.
I may wonder why we are there, but we go. And this is why.
The children are learning and the Holy Spirit is working – even though we can’t see either.
Young children are part of Christ’s Body by Holy Baptism. They are part of our church family.
Young children need to hear the liturgy and learn the hymns.
Young children can say the Lord’s Prayer and listen to the sermon.
No, it’s not easy. Yes, it takes practice and training. We wouldn’t expect children to read perfectly the first time they sit down in Kindergarten, would we?
Don’t wait to bring children to church until it’s “easier”. That day will never come. Now is the perfect age to be in church. Your children are never too young to be in church.
Yes, there are times when you won’t hear the sermon.
There are times when you will take your child out more than you are sitting in church. We walk a fine line because we don’t want our children disrupting others – and we are quick to take them out to sit with us in the narthex if they do – but we want them in church. My husband and I are so thankful for the encouragement of other parents and grandparents who sit in the pew around us and reassure us on the difficult Sundays that yes, this is important. My heart is always encouraged by their kind reminders that they were once in our shoes, and yes, we are teaching our children what they need to know.
Even still, there are times when you wonder why you are here but remember this.
Your children are learning that it is important to be in God’s house.
They are learning to worship.
Being a confessional Lutheran, I am thankful for our faithful liturgy so I can participate in the service even when I am hushing a baby and redirecting children. I am thankful for hymns I know by heart so I can still sing even when I can’t hold the hymnal.
I often pray, “Lord, speak to my heart. Give me something from the sermon that I need to hear.” Sometimes, a key phrase is all I manage to take away from the sermon. But that is still something that I didn’t have before.
I am thankful that I can bring my children to the Lord’s Supper with me, so they can be reminded by the Pastor of their Baptism, as they watch their Dad and Mom receive Communion.
We are worshiping as a family. That is important. It is important to sit in the pews together.
We are striving to follow God’s commands to “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8) and “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
It’s not easy to bring our children to church but it is important. So, fellow parents, who are sitting with their own wiggly children. Don’t lose heart! Keep bringing your children to church.
Remember, the Holy Spirit is at work. Jesus died for the youngest of children and the oldest of parents, and God’s grace covers us all.
With Love and Encouragement,
Your Fellow Mom in the Church Pew