Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Children in Church (Reposted)

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**This is a repost for the Greatest Hits Edition of Works For Me Wednesday. Go here to see the original comments.

Holly at Seeking Faithfulness got me to thinking about this when she posted on it, and I remembered something that has worked for me in the past.

I actually need to pull this trick out of my bag again to control the wiggles during worship service.

Our children all sit with us throughout the entire worship service and we expect them to participate in every aspect of the worship, as far as they are able. The oldest ones can turn in their Bibles to the scriptures mentioned and to the correct page in the song book, and all but the baby can sing praises, bow their heads, and stand and sit when appropriate.

I give each of the oldest (ages 7, 10, and 12) a little notebook in which I have written words that I expect to hear in the sermon. These might include: God, Jesus, forgiveness, scriptures, holy, repent, etc.

I tell them to make tally marks whenever they hear the preacher mention one of the words I have written. This encourages them to really tune in to what is being spoken and actively listen to the word of God.

If they are old enough and able to take notes (the 10 and 12 yr. old), I ask them to jot down scriptures mentioned, main ideas, and so forth.

After church, we discuss the sermon and the scriptures referenced. They really seem to benefit from actively listening for those key words that I wrote in their little notebooks. It helps them to focus and think about the sermon instead of daydreaming or asking me 13 times what time it is.

Back in my younger parenting days when I only had 2 or 3 children, I would load up a bag with crayons, coloring books, little puzzles, snacks, and lots of stuff that I thought would keep them busy during worship. Then I started to realize that I was only encouraging them to think of it as a playtime, and a boring one at that. I wanted them, instead, to think of it as a time to actually worship and listen to the words being read from the Bible.

The youngest ones can have little stickers or pictures of Bibles, Jesus, heaven, crosses, etc. in their notebooks that they can circle when they hear those words mentioned.

These are the things that have worked for me while having my children in church, and I really don't remember why I stopped doing this. I will definitely be going back to it again starting on Sunday.

Check out Rocks in my Dryer for more great tips!


Ellen said...

I'm going to try this tip - writing the words in a small notebook. My daughter is 13, but she has a hard time holding still and listening during the church service. Thanks.

Mrs. Huse Clifton said...

I love those ideas. I always send my children to sunday school but the times I keep them with me, special services, it is often a wiggily diaster. Thanks!

Rebecca said...

I remember this helpful tip because I've been using it since! My 11yo is old enough to take his own notes, but my 6 and 8 yos have a hard time trying to figure out what they should write so having the words they just need to listen for has been SO helpful!

carrie said...

Great tip!!! Thanks!!

rcsnickers said...

Great ideas. Question though: what do you do with a noisy squirmy 8 month old or 13 month old? Do you find they make a lot of noise turning pages looking at their Bibles or other books (2-5year old stage). Our children are 6,5,3,2,2 months. All but the 2 yo are in church. We keep the 2yo until the sermon by then he is just out and in and out in and out again! I know taking him to the nursery seems like a reward (gets treats or crackers) but our child would rather be with us. So I am trying to find a way to get him to settle through the whole sermon and prepare for our 2 month old when she is squirmy and loud baby noises! Thanks. I know that is a lot to ask, but I know you are experienced!

You have a wonderful family and I appreciate your blog!

JenIG said...

excellent post and I couldn't agree more. we do the same thing with our kids. Also, when they are about one year old we begin 'practicing' sitting quietly. We start with 20 minute incriments... during the day we put the little one in a chair with a book and have them practice sitting. We increase the time along the way. this comes in very handy at dr offices, tax appt, church, funerals etc

Smockity Frocks said...

Hi, RCSnickers, thanks for stopping by. First of all, like JenIg, we do some pew practice at home. We sit quietly reading our Bibles. The ones who can't read hold theirs. I have used a recorded sermon or the Bible on CD to simulate what happens at church. I think starting with very short time periods (5 min. at first) and doing it every day, increasing the time each day, is effective for those under 2.

Another important point is we NEVER reward the behavior if we take them out. For the littlest ones just learning we take them out and they must sit quietly in our laps, just as they would in the auditorium. No treats. No toys. No getting down. If they wiggle or whine, we tell them very quietly and in a serious tone, "no".

When they are quiet, we go back in and they get their Bible back. They figure out pretty quick that it is better to be with the rest of the family.

I hope that helps!

Holly said...

This really IS good advice Connie! I always struggle when we have a two year old and a baby. It is hard!

Smockity Frocks said...

Yes, it IS hard, Holly, especially when hubby isn't there. I know you know that better than I do! It really does pay off, though, when you see them participating in the worship.

Bethanie said...

Great tips- I'll be keeping them in mind.

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