Change is constant: seasons come and go; people are born, people die; jobs drift; cars break down. The news changes daily—some new horror to try to explain to kids. Their activities change often too: baseball turns to football, swimming lessons turn to mandolin.
Churches change as well: congregations get older, then younger again; pastors come and go; old buildings recede, additions are built; pews get harder, carpets wear.
For a long time now and almost everywhere in the world, Christians will hold worship services on Sunday mornings. Amid all the changes in life, you can take advantage of that singular stability for the benefit of your family.
Worship can be a place to pause, reflect and pray for our changing world before racing ahead around the next corner. You can go to the same church every week in your hometown. You can drop in on random denominations while on vacation. Or try a different church every Sunday until you run out of options and start the list over.
Here’s the secret: If you expect to go to church every Sunday and your children expect to go to church every Sunday, it all gets easier and the rewards grow. Instead of fighting about waking up or what to wear, instead of trying to figure out how to get Jane to softball and Jack to soccer when practice is at the same time, you can relax. What a good excuse to turn down all the things we try to squeeze into one of the days we are told to rest: “Sorry, we can’t do that today—gotta go to church and we’ll plan after that.”
Attending church can bring out anxieties in parents and children. Is your or their behavior acceptable? Do you need to join in all the activities that a church community has to offer? How many snacks can your child eat at fellowship hour?
Instead of these worries, remind yourself that everyone says they want children in church. By your family’s mere presence in worship on any given Sunday you enrich the experience for everyone. Church is for the whole community, of which you are just one part. And if there are Sundays when everything seems like a distraction—for there will be days when you wonder why you’ve come at all—remember there is always next week.
Instead of distracting a crying, sullen or energetic child with books, toys or cellphones, try refocusing them on elements of the service. “Look, there’s the bread and the wine. Can you pray like the presider? Where’s the water? What words do you know from the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ or the Lord’s Prayer?” The more you go, the more your children will answer those questions for you.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).