Taking your kids back to church
It was a particularly difficult Sunday morning with my four year old Tommy. His sister was two, so she was in the nursery and his big brother AJ was six and loved being in church. Tommy however, gave us a run for our money that year. Every week, he launched his own version of Tasmanian devil while we did our best to get to the part where we could send him to Children’s Worship - where he usually got in trouble. This was the ministry that I happened to lead so the irony was not lost on me. We tried everything. We brought fidget toys and activity bags, we encouraged, inspired, threatened…some weeks we just got back in the car and left.
This Sunday however, Tommy was poised for his most spectacular Sunday morning performance to date. He was being wild in Children’s church and the exasperated volunteer brought him back to us where we were sitting in the overflow room. While she was explaining to us what was going on in Children’s church, Tommy took off running down the hallway turned left and ran in the front door of the sanctuary during the sermon. Praise the Lord the pastor’s wife was sitting on the front row. She reached out her arm and before he could turn and run down the center aisle she swooped him up and led him out the side door back to us. I could have died. I looked at my husband and said, "it’s time to go home". We gathered up our two other children and loaded up our minivan for the “drive of shame” since we had to drive in front of the large picture windows of the sanctuary to reach the main road and head for home. I looked down at my phone. One of my dear friends saw the whole thing go down and sent me a text to encourage me. I was so thankful for the reminder that we were part of a community of grace, and that we did not have to behave perfectly to be welcomed.
Still I wondered why did we try week after week to get three crazy children dressed and ready for church just to have it end in disaster over and over again. I guess part of me knew it was a tough year for Tommy. It had only been a few months since his little brother had died after living for only three weeks. Yes he was wiggly before when he was three but this year it was even worse. We didn’t give up because we knew that what we needed most as a family that year was to be loved on by our church family. Our children needed the extended family of the church in order to experience the comfort that God promises to give us as we walk through difficult seasons. We did not give up because we knew that sometimes the only way around something is through it. So the next Sunday, we tried again.
In just a few weeks, after months of online church during a pandemic, our church will reopen and Redemption will meet face-to-face again - for some of us, for the first time. If parents need it, there will be a cozy lobby where you can still hear the service while you soothe your little one or walk your toddler about. While you are out there walking up and down the hall, or quieting your second grader during the service you might be thinking - why are we doing this? Why don’t we just watch church at home? The answer is found in Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let’s not give up. Make that effort to dress the kids, find all the little shoes and masks and make it to church. There is nothing they need more than to experience the love of God through worship and through their church family. Tommy will be there, so heads up, Britt - we may need an interception in the front row. I promise you parents, bringing your children to church may not always be easy but it will always be worth it. I can’t wait to see you there.
- Graham Behnke, Director of Redemption Kids