Christmas is upon us! Though it is a busy time of year it is also a time to rejoice as we celebrate the birth of the long-awaited Jesus. Parents, I pray you are making time to help your children understand that the most important gift is the one God gave us in Christ.
There are many opportunities for us to worship together this Christmas. Like in past years, our Christmas Eve service (5:00 pm) will be for the entire church family and all kids will sit with their families. This year the Sunday after Christmas, December 27, will also be an all-church worship service (no nursery or children’s classes). There will only be one service that morning at 10:00 am.
I know for some of you with young children it may seem overwhelming to think about having all your children in the pew with you. What we don’t want is for you to stay home! This is a wonderful opportunity for your children to get a taste of corporate worship in the body of Christ. Pastor Jeff, our Worship Pastor, is planning elements in the service with children in mind. Pastor Curt will be preaching that Sunday, and he is also excited to consider his audience as he plans the sermon. If you are overwhelmed by the idea, let me offer some thoughts to help you prepare your family to attend worship together.
- Expect disruptions. Babies and toddlers will not be able to sit perfectly still for the entire service, so expect there will be some movement and noise. Know that is not a problem for those who are sitting around you. We want the atmosphere of the service to be welcoming to all.
- Plan ahead. Enthusiastically prepare your preschoolers for being in church. Prepare a bag with some quiet toys such as pipe cleaners, crayons, or stickers for them during the sitting times. Avoid handing them an electronic toy that will take their focus. Even when their hands are busy with pipe cleaners or crayons, they will be aware of what is happening around them.
- Model worship. Have them stand when the congregation stands, bow their heads in prayer during prayer, and sing along with the songs they know. As they watch you participate in worship, they will begin to learn what God’s people do when they gather together.
- Welcome them. Introduce your children to those who are sitting around you during the greeting time. Introduce them to the pastors at the end of the service. Children are not only the church of tomorrow; they are part of the church today!
- Bless others with your children. If children outnumber parents in your family ask someone you know who won’t have children with them to join your family in the pew to help.
- Be patient. We must patiently teach our children many things! Be patient as you work with them in church. If this is new to your family, there may be challenges, but consider this an opportunity for training.
If you are interested in reading more about children in worship, Jen Wilkin has written some excellent blog posts on her blog, The Beginning of Wisdom. I found them very helpful philosophically and practically.
Bless you and your families this Christmas. I look forward to worshipping with you ALL!