While I avoided listing anything in my last post to protect from legalism, I have been emboldened to create one. The last post looked at cutting out SOFT reasons for missing church. Here’s my list ….
- When you become aware that people you have a relationship with are not at church, make a list (mental or otherwise) of who they are.
- Make contact with them and ask about their welfare. It is nice they are missed and there could well be legitimate reasons they were not there. By lovingly enquiring into their lives you could well discover there are needs you can meet. Entertaining their children while sick parents recover from illness? Dropping a meal around? Feeding their pets because they’ve had to make an urgent out-of-town visit to a critically ill friend/relative? Visit them in hospital because they were involved in a car accident on the way to church? Who knows unless someone enquires? “Someone” doesn’t go to their church, but you do – you can be the friend who enquires.
- By making such enquiries you might become aware that soft excuses are entering into your friend’s life. Write down a few dates and reasons given. See if there is any patterns developing.
- Take the ‘log’ out of your own eye (Matt 7). Self-audit the times you have missed church lately. Were they for selfish reasons? Seek forgiveness and repentance if necessary.
- Be a friend – arrange to meet with your friend and raise the concerns you have, concerns you have for them. Seek to encourage them in their relationship with God. (Encouraging includes wanting what is good for them, not just what is nice for them to hear.)
- Listen without judgement. Never stop loving them. Don’t make it a personal crusade to get them back to church.
- Show them you are delighted to see them back at church – not because they are doing the right thing, but because you know it is a good thing for them to be gathering with God’s people, around God’s Word, to the glory of Him who saved us by mercy through Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5).
What does this list have to do with parenting? Not only is loving each other sincerely what Paul urges us to do (Rom 12), but we can involve our kids and show them what this looks like. In the car on the way home a conversation could easily go, “Did you notice any of your friends missing today? I think they’d appreciate a call, don’t you? How about you do that after lunch and see if they are okay.”
Not the list you were expecting? I think you know why I didn’t do that list. Jesus desires ‘mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matt 12).
Do you find these posts helpful in parenting to the Glory of God? If you do, then I’m sure others would too.
Please SHARE these posts with a prayer for a generation of kids who have had this modelled for them by their parents.
Crying rooms are convenient in the short term, settling a baby/toddler into crèche is better in the long term.
Crying rooms serve the parent with a crying baby, but not the other people who also want to hear the sermon with a babe-in-arms. Other parents will have gone there to feed without the distractions of church or give their child a quiet place to sleep. Both of these are undone when a crying or unsettled baby enters. My experience has been these crying rooms (with the sermon wired through to speakers) end up being a place where parents chat and don’t actually listen to the sermon anyway.
Crèche rooms, set up with toys and activities to entertain a clean and fed baby/toddler, allow them to be noisy and entertained. Carers often will sing songs, read books and play with the children while Mum and/or Dad can be involved in the church meeting. This time will help babies develop socialising and motor skills, exploring more of the world God has made for them.
Can the two be merged? Is it successful having an audio feed into a crèche? Here’s why I think it doesn’t work:
- the kids will now have an adult voice filling the audio space instead of kids music, significantly altering the mood of the room,
- the kids will still be noisy, so a parent will have a lot of trouble listening anyway,
- most parents will have conversations with the carers and/or other parents and not listen to the sermon anyway.
If listening to the sermon is the goal, I’d suggest investing the time to settle your child into crèche with other adult carers and listening to the sermon during the week*. It may take a few weeks (or months for some) but it will not be forever. Another option to find the content of the sermon if you cannot listen to it later is to ask your spouse to summarise the talk and discuss it over a coffee/dessert after the kids are in bed. Trust me, this will NOT be detrimental to your marriage!
If listening to the sermon IS the goal, then this post may be helpful.
Churching with a baby – Is is worth it?
* Modern technology means we barely have to make any effort to find and listen to sermons at a time we can concentrate.
Coming to church with a baby can seem a fruitless endeavour – they often need a feed, a nappy change, a sleep, sometimes get noisy – and don’t get me started on the STUFF that needs to be brought along!
I want to encourage families in this situation that it IS worthwhile when you persevere in coming to church, for yourself and others.
What are the benefits?
- It keeps you in the habit of coming to church. You know it is part of God’s plan for His chosen people to gather together, don’t let having a baby become a justifiable excuse. This is especially important when there are other older siblings around – church attendance becomes part of their normal routine, not just when Mum & Dad are up to it.
- Your attendance encourages others (with or without kids) who have also had to muster the will to attend.
- Even if you do not get to hear the sermon*, you will most likely have been able to join in communal worship & prayer, chat with and encourage others and be part of God’s gathered people.
We don’t go to be at church, we go to be the church!
* Sermon recording is not a new phenomenon – I remember my Mum dubbing taped sermons on our twi deck 25 years ago. Technology means we barely have to make any effort these days to find and listen to sermons at a time we can concentrate.