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Raising Children Who Love the Word

April 16, 2007

Yesterday, our family worshipped, as is our usual custom, with other members of our church family. This Sunday was a little different, in that children in the first through sixth grades led the worship. They sang praises to God, read scripture and assisted in collecting the tithes and offerings of God’s people, while the adult choir had the day “off” from leading in worship.

My son was very excited to be a part of this. He was especially excited about being one of the ushers who collected the offering. And yes, I have to admit, I was proud of him. He is a boy who rarely stands still, who has a flair for the dramatic, and his quietest moments are usually when he is up to mischief (or worse). Yesterday, he behaved himself and looked like a little man in a boy’s body…it was like seeing a glimpse of him serving the church one day in the future.

Afterwards, he commented to one of the godly men in our congregation that his favorite part was “passing the plates” to which this man replied in a quiet and serious voice, “Well, son, I hope the preaching will be your favorite part one day.” I was so thankful for his words of wisdom, something I think my child would have let in one ear and out the other had mom said it. The truth of what he said really struck me. My desire is to raise children whose love for their God will compel them to reach maturity and to have a love for the Word that is central to their worship.

How do we, as parents, accomplish this?

Our children attend the worship services with us rather than attend any children’s church or go to a second Sunday School class as some churches offer. At their ages, I believe this is good and appropriate.

As their parents, we made some decisions early on that we hoped would turn their hearts in the right direction. Our youngest, even as a new four year old, couldn’t just play with any quiet toy or color or sleep during worship, even though items to play with and color were generously provided by our church at the time. She could color or read books, but it was always Bible stories. As she has gotten older, she participates along with the rest of us until the music is over. During the sermon, she either reads her Bible, copies Scripture, or draws a picture of what the preacher is discussing.

I loved her drawing from Palm Sunday. Jesus was standing on top of a donkey walking over palm branches while people were shouting Hosanna. Somehow, the image of Jesus standing on the donkey struck me as humorous.

Our sons read their Bibles and occasionally write Scripture as well. Now, there are times when we know the schedule is the fault of the parents and the kids really are exhausted and we allow them to sleep, but it is rare, and we try to avoid scheduling things that make exhaustion an issue. The idea is that we don’t want them to take worship lightly. We want their minds to be set on God. We want them to learn at least what their young minds are capable of learning.

For all this, there are days when I feel I didn’t learn a thing or really enter into worship between correcting children, finding the scripture passages in their books, the songs in their hymnals, taking away pens they are playing with, removing Bibles because they are pointlessly flipping through pages as loudly as possible, reminding them to be quiet so as not to disturb others, ushering them to bathrooms (even though we take them before the service), teaching them to pray rather than play, and the list goes on. Just this Sunday, one of my children, who is generally of the sweetest temperament, was spitting on a paper, and when it was taken away, began drooling on an outfit, and our children are 5, 7, and 9. 😦

I know discipline is part of parenthood, and it seems particularly momhood (is there such a word?), and I accept it, mostly with joy, hoping the outcome will have been worth persevering for. My question is, how do we get our children to a point where they love hearing the word, learning the word, and worshipping in song and reverence?

Please share any ideas you have and what may have worked with your family.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    April 16, 2007 10:41 pm

    Maybe the child needed some paper and a straw…

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