My, how quickly Tuesdays arrive. In an attempt to
cover up the fact that I hadn’t come up with anything include the children in the writing of this week’s parenting blog, I asked Joshua for help this morning. Our conversation went something like this:
Mom: Joshua, what parenting tip should I cover this week?
Joshua: [Blank, slightly hostile stare]
Mom: You know, for our Tuesday Parenting blog.
Joshua: [Blank stare followed by dramatic shrug] Again, Mom?
Mom: [Slightly exasperated now] Help me out here, Josh, can’t you think of any interesting parenting tips or hints I could share?
Joshua: [Looking over his shoulder, calculating the distance needed for escape] Hmmm. Um. Let’s see, um. [Long pause]
Mom: Never mind. I’ll figure something out.
Joshua: [Relief etched in his features, exhausted by the effort] Great, good luck.
Mom: [Sarcastically] Yeah, thanks Joshua, you’re a big help.
Joshua: [Big smile, racing off to do something easy, like math] Any time, Mom.
So obviously Joshua is not going to be a big source of help with this blogging series. Tim had a long, tiring day hanging out with the President. Oh, nope, that’s not quite right. He was in TRAFFIC while the President’s motorcade went by. He was “near” President Bush for a good part of the afternoon. He’s too tired to think up brilliant, witty, or wise parenting tips. I’m on my own. This may be a short one.
Notes for Pennies – Sitting in Church
Our church has two morning services. Tim leads an adult Sunday School class during the first hour. The children are all in classes of their own during this time. We do our best to span almost the entire youth department — from kindergarten all the way to middle school. Don’t even ask, we will NOT be adding a baby to the nursery.
During the second hour we sit together in church, with the exception of Sarah who stays for a another hour of preschool. She will join us when she transitions to her new class in the Fall. It’s both a joy and a challenge having the children in church with us.
They wiggle and squirm and fight over who gets to sit next to Mommy. They drop their books, bother each other, sit when you’re supposed to be standing, clap when the clapping ends and just generally distract everyone within a three pew radius.
That covers the first 10 minutes.
They have even been known to, and this is the worst offense of all, knock over the precious cup of contraband (a.k.a. hot coffee) smuggled into the sanctuary. Repeatedly.
My friend Christy stepped in to help the situation with this awesome Christmas present.
Now my coffee remains in a spill-proof, safe, travel mug (staying hot for hours).
I want my children to learn how to worship God with a body of believers and develop the discipline of sitting quietly and hearing from the Word. I would like them to experience church intergenerationally, not always segregated by age, separated into their own classes. I found a wonderful article online written specifically about including children in a worship service. One portion of the essay featured a check list for the church staff or worship team.
- Our pastor includes at least one example, illustration, or story in each sermon that relates to children’s experiences.
- Our church education program teaches children about the basic actions of worship and worship-related words that are difficult to understand (such as “alleluia,” “amen,” or “sacrament”).
- There are children regularly involved in the worship leadership team of our congregation.
- Our pastor has met with every church education class to answer the questions the children have about worship.
What a richness and depth it would add to family worship if some of these ideas were embraced by our churches today.
One thing we have started to do with Daniel and Rachel, who are old enough to sit still and listen but a bit too young to be completely engaged in the sermon, is Note Taking for Pennies.
I look over the sermon notes and make a list of four words that follow the theme of the sermon. For example, we have been studying Hebrews 11 this month, examining the heroes of faith. In this case, I might write down:
Rachel is poised and ready to take some power notes!
I leave two spaces empty so they can add words themselves that they notice emerging as key themes. I encourage them to listen carefully to the sermon and make a tally mark each time the pastor repeats a word on their list.
Here is the key factor — I pay them one penny for each recorded word!
This may not seem like much but it rapidly adds up. I’ve been known to come out $3 or $4 poorer in a single church service. It’s worse if the children have friends visiting. The kids hand me their papers with glee. I’m just glad they didn’t stand up in the middle of the sermon, shouting: “Bingo!”
I try to look surprised and overwhelmed by the big bucks the note taking costs, all the while hiding my joy. My loss has become their gain as they walk out of the worship service with a deeper understanding of the scriptures, an awareness of the themes repeated in the passage, and a mind that has been engaged during the sermon rather than distracted and bored.
I will gladly pay that price. BINGO indeed!
Project 365 – Day 239
Edited to say – this series of pictures of Joshua were from a different day when we were being silly. He is a very helpful young man and is more than willing to assist on our blogging projects whenever possible. I didn’t mean to misrepresent him for the sake of some blog humor.