When Curt and Sandra Lovelace, relatively new Christians, had their first child, they worshipped in a community (L’Abri, if I understand correctly) where infants were welcome in church. Then they moved to the US and discovered that not all churches wanted children in the worship services.
This led them to study the Bible and then to a sometimes lonely journey of keeping their children in church with them even if it was not culturally accepted. In Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship they encourage parents that it is both desirable and possible to worship as a family. Little children can and do worship. While not condemning nurseries and children’s programs, they suggest there is a better way.
The book’s goal is summed up in the following paragraph.
Many parents may not have considered God’s teaching about families coming into the corporate worship experience together. On the other hand, those parents who have concluded that worshipping as a family is a biblical pattern may simply have no idea how to proceed. A third reality quickly follows: Many congregations do not know how to welcome and encourage families in this direction.
Fundamental to Children in Church is the Biblically-based idea that children belong in the worship service but may not disrupt it. And that, of course, is where the trouble begins. Different children, different parents, and different fellow-worshippers all have different abilities and tolerance levels.
Therefore Children in Church is full of practical, common-sense support for the many challenges of taking little ones into a worship service. If you are planning to take your little ones to church with you, you’ll benefit greatly from the suggestions and encouragement provided in this book. Although we rarely took infants into church with us, we would have benefitted from the Lovelaces’ practical advice when we took our toddlers and preschoolers to church.
Children in Church is also full of general wisdom, and as a mom of children over 10 years old, I valued the following insights.
- We should not expect perfection from kids, parents, or those sitting nearby. In other words “be kind to one another.”
- “Valuable goals require plenty of mental, emotional, physical, and most especially spiritual input,” leading to growth in the parents as well as the children.
- Seek the Lord for comfort when things go wrong and remember to rejoice in the face of adversity.
- Our kids’ learning is a result of their following us—so we had better be leading wisely.
- Set aside a regular time to focus on family goals.
While the Lovelaces present a good ideal, it is not feasible at all times and in all circumstances. Children in Church presents a balanced yet passionate case that all children belong in church during the service. We must remember that godly people will disagree on this. We must also remember that children should not be allowed to disrupt the worship services. As parents, we must balance our convictions with respect for other people’s convictions, recognizing the personalities of the child, the parents, and the other worshippers. For some people, in some circumstances, having children in church works; other people in other circumstances may find it impossible despite following the Lovelaces’ practical advice. “Let all things be done in love.”
If you are planning to take your little ones into church with you, especially in an unsupportive environment, this book will mean a lot to your family. If you are certain you want your children in the nursery and in children’s programs instead of in the worship service, this book will not speak to you. On the other hand, if you are still making up your mind, I recommend reading the book; you might get clarity on the topic, and you’ll absorb a lot of thoughtful parenting advice on the way.
For more information or to buy this book, visit Children in Church.
This is yet another book in the in the 2012 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, and is also linked to Saturday Reviews. For more inspiration visit Better Mom Monday, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesdays, Works For Me Wednesday , Wisdom Wednesdays, and Raising Homemakers.