Sitting with the kids!
August 15, 2013
I've spent the last 3 Sundays going to church with my family and sitting with them. I want to recommend it to those of us who are preachers. There are men who can't handle sitting in the congregation they have to preach. You know the lines: 'this is what I'm called to'; 'I'm a preacher that is what I am'. I can tell you it's probably the fast track to breakdown and if all you ever do is preach and never listen in church, you're probably not going to cope very well when retirement comes along.
I'm a firm believer in children being in church, worshipping with their families, listening to sermons. I think it's biblical in the examples Scripture gives, and theologically the Children of believers are part of the people of God. Particularly for paedobaptists it's totally inconsistent to send your children out of worship. As my Baptist brother says: 'you paedobaptists baptise a child, saying to the child you are now part of the church, you belong to the people of God, you are as much part of the church as the rest of us, now we are going to do the most important thing this church ever does, hear the Word of God preached so clear off.' I remember going to a church in the US and there was a sign on the door saying 'Please keep infants out of worship'. At this point I wrote all over the sign, suffer little children come unto me.
Over the past 3 weeks it was a joy to sit with my 4 year old. The services were far from contemporary and the preaching was a good 30 minutes but he saw how his parents and grandparents listen to the preaching, and we were able to talk to him about what was said afterwards and through the week. We prayed through some of the applications in family worship. It's hardly rocket science is it?
There are certainly weeks when it's not so good but, speaking from a preacher's perspective, adults are far more disruptive than children in a service. When a child whispers in a parent's ear, or starts to make a bit of noise I think nothing of it but when adults start to speak during the sermon paranoia kicks in. There are bad weeks for children and families, but as elders we need to cultivate patience and joy in having children in worship. Parents need to be made to feel it's ok when their children aren't perfect and the kids need to be taken out. With newcomers we must welcome families and reassure them that their children are as welcome as they are.
I realise children can be noisy and distracting to other adults in the congregation but I want to say that they have as much right to be there as you have. We believe children are part of the church and we treat them as such. I was delighted to see Robbie Castleman's book Parenting in the Pew is back out in a reprint, Timothy Sisemore's works are excellent too plus John Piper gets in on the act with a helpful article.
Psalm 8:2: 'Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have ordained praise', and out of the mouths of babies and infants comes all sorts of noise. Remember that next Sunday when the kids are screaming!