Monday, August 4, 2008

Children in Church

I'm a firm believer in having children worship alongside adults. Children learn by observation, and our culture sadly doesn't give them enough credit. We often hear, "They can't sit that long," or "They don't comprehend what is being said or done anyway." I find both statements to be untrue.

My children have played church since they were old enough to pretend. Sermons have been preached on the living room steps, and hymns have been sung by little people in our home.

Several years back, I read Edith Schaeffer's book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. While we've always had our children alongside us in worship, and they have always been given a notebook to take notes in, she opened my eyes to the way that I take notes with a youngster sitting beside me. She suggested drawing little pictures in your notes, to tell the story of the sermon. I was intrigued, and put her advice into practice the very next Sunday. Abigail was thrilled.

It's been many years already since Abigail learned to read, but as I flipped through an old notebook yesterday and found some primitive drawings, I was reminded that little eyes are watching what we do.

In true Reformed fashion, I don't attempt to draw Jesus, but rather represent Him with a large heart for a body, and a circle for His head. The Holy Spirit is drawn the same, but with wings. Be creative. Your drawings don't have to be complicated or intricate to please a young child.


lady jane said...

Sweet memories with Abigail and excellent tips for parents of young children. :o)

I'm having a bit of give-a-way. Come see. :o)

Momala said...

We are so fortunate that our new church is an Intergenerational church. The concept is that children learn to be Godly by being around Godly adults. So, for the last year and 1/2 we have had our kids with us in church and we love it and the kids love it too! It turns out that they didn't like the fun and games childrens church at our old church.

Our church is full of young families and it is amazing how the kids are able to sit still and pay attention.

Our pastor puts together a little sheet for the younger kids (those old enough to read, but too young to take notes) and this sheet has a list of 5-6 words that he will use frequently in the sermon. The kids listen and keep a tally of how many times they hear those words. Spencer really enjoys this, and Andrew used to do it too until last Sunday. He didn't keep up with the tally because he was concentrating so much on what the pastor was saying, he forgot to tally! So he agreed that maybe it's time for him to begin taking notes.

Thanks for the great post, I really love the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking, and I should go back and read it again.


Anonymous said...

That is a great idea, with the notebook with pictures from the sermon to help littles understand. (I sometimes use the picture from the front of the bulletin, but that's usually just one image.) Thanks!

Little kids in church is a subject that's been on my mind lately; I wrote a recent post about it myself.

Sharon said...

I am in total agreement with you. When I grew up, we didn't have children's church. So, we sat alongside our parents during the whole service and learned to respect God's House. Some people think it's impossible to make your child sit still, but it IS possible.

Anonymous said...

That is a brilliant idea...I love it! My kids are grown now, but I'll pass this idea onto my friends. Thanks!

love, Tina :)

randi---i have to say said...

I agree with you about children being part of worship with the parents. I think it is so important.

The idea of drawing on your notes is great. I will be trying it with Aubry on Sunday!

Anonymous said...

We too keep our children along side us during service. It is amazing to watch them grow. From the time my son was 1 1/2 he has loves to pretend to lead the singing of hymns whether it be in our home or at church when service is over. I never thought about the way I take notes and little eyes. I have the book but never got past chapter 1. I need to go open it again. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. My 10yr old son will really enjoy this. Thank you for reminding me of the book by Edith Schaffer.

I also agree, that children should worship right along side the adults.

In Christ,


Mrs. Rabe said...

I completely agree with you Tracy. I have that book, and have read it, but I don't remember this portion. I am going to read it again. Thank you for the inspiration on note taking for my children so they can follow along!

We have recently changed churches so that we can participate in a Family Integrated Church. We are loving it.

Jodi said...

I love the notebook; what a wonderful idea! There is nothing sweeter than having your little ones beside you as you worship together as a family. I agree with you completely on this post!

Stacie said...

Good idea! I love doodling little pictures to help me remember things. I guess I am a visual learner. I have grown up sitting through church even when I was little. I think it is a good idea.

See you!

Vera Prince said...

I've never heard that you're not suppose to draw Jesus. Why is that?

Tracy said...

Hi Vera,

Great question! We are not supposed to draw Jesus because it's forbidden in the second commandment we are told not to make any graven images. Most Christians feel that it's okay to have statues or pictures or painting of Jesus, but they end up being used as icons. What do I mean by that? Well, people find a statue or a picture, and pray. Oh, they say that they are not praying TO the statue or picture, they are just praying while looking at it, but it becomes a man made god. We really have no idea what Jesus looked like other than the fact that he was a middle eastern man. Statues and pictures of our Savior are purely man's imagination.

Vera Prince said...

Oh! That sounds a lot like why Muslim people don't make images of people or animals in art. They do it because they believe they could become idols. I never knew some Christians believed that too. What about crosses? Don't they become icons and symbols that people put their faith into rather than God Himself?

Tracy said...


I can't speak for all Christians, but when it comes to Reformed Christians, we would not use crosses during worship. Or candles, or incense, etc. Reformed worship calls for the regulative principle of worship. What does that mean? Well, it means that we only do in worship what God commands. Other Christians believe in the normative principle of worship which means that they believe they can do anything in worship that the Lord doesn't forbid. They would use candles, banners, a cross, etc.

Now, I'm not totally against a cross, I just wouldn't use it in worship. I would wear a cross as jewelry, or have one in my home.

You can read more about the Regulative Principle of worship here:

Vera Prince said...

Tracy, I read over that website. How are reformed Christians different from historical Puritans, like the ones from the Mayflower (interesting fact, my mother's family is descended from William Brewster of the Mayflower). How do you worship? Can you sing hymns? I'd like to know more. Thanks, V

Tracy said...


First, I'm refreshed to be answering your questions! It seems as though the Lord is bringing a longing to your heart to know more of the Scriptures, and that's such a blessing!

I kind of had to chuckle about the question of how do we worship. It's not so different from most other Christian churches to the person who doesn't know any different. We (the pastor or an elder)pray, we sing hymns and psalms, we listen to Scripture readings, we hear a sermon from the pastor, we take up an offertory, we practice the Lord's supper and infant baptism. It is solemn. Not that we aren't filled with joy, for we most certainly are! It's just that we take the worship of our God very seriously. Reformed worship varies from denomination to denomination, and even from church to church.

My family belongs to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We are very conservative. No women elders or deacons. You can read more here.
I do hope that you don't think that I don't want to answer your questions personally, but these people are much more eloquent than me! :0)

Vera Prince said...

Thank you for taking the time to point me in the right direction. I have a lot of questions and I know that no one person could really answer them all, but I do appreciate your help. I'm trying to go back to church but I'm having trouble finding the right church, that's why I'm asking. I know there are many different sects of Christianity, but I don't know which one I want to belong to. Thanks for your help.