I understand how hard it is. I know you don't get as much out of the sermon when you're refereeing your kids in the pew. But that hour is important to their spiritual development. Don't get me wrong. If your church offers children's church or some program for the kids during grown-up church, I don't have any problem with kids going. I think that can be beneficial, too. But so many churches don't offer that and I think that's OK. Kids aren't missing out by not having such programs.
So what are the benefits of having kids in church with you?
1. They learn to sit quietly. This takes time and patience. It's important that you bring along some quiet activities to help them with this.
2. They feel connected to the church body. We are the body of Christ. Kids are never too young to feel that connection.
3. They feel the Spirit. I know it seems they're only squirming and counting the seconds until it's over. But there's a special feeling in a church service that can't be found anywhere else. Kids unconsciously pick up on this and know it's a holy place and experience, even if it doesn't seem like they get it.
4. It builds faith memories. One Sunday after we sang the old hymn, Break Thou the Bread of Life, my pastor stood before us and admitted he had felt like a little boy again as he sang that song. He remembered it had often been sung as a communion song in his childhood church. He was mentally transported back to his boyhood and could see the faithful saints from his church passing the elements, even though he didn't fully understand what it all meant at the time. My point? Had he not sat in church week after week, he wouldn't have such sweet faith memories as an adult. These little things are what build faith.
5. It shows children service opportunities. Children can see that there are people who hand out bulletins, pass the offering plate, sing on the worship team, play instruments, preach sermons, and participate in worship in various ways. One of those things may be something that interests them and they'll be able to see themselves in that role one day.
6. They learn to use their Bibles and sing praises. As the pastor uses scripture texts, they can try to find them with your help. Children should be encouraged to sing along with the songs. Have them sit and stand with the rest of the congregation. Teach them to participate in, not just tolerate, the service.You never know when something they hear will click and the Spirit will move them into a deeper place of faith. Or a verse or song they've heard may come to their minds in a difficult life situation and can be a source of strength for them.
7. They see you worship. You're your child's most influential role model. You're showing them how important it is to go to church. It's absolutely vital they see you worship so they can follow your example as they grow into adults.
So don't despair when you have your kids in church with you. All those wiggles and noises that sound magnified in your ears because it comes from your kids is part of their spiritual growth. They're taking in way more than it seems. God is working miracles behind the scenes in their hearts.
What other benefits have you seen by having your children in church with you? Do you think there are more benefits from having them in children's church? Sound off in the comments below.