Worshiping with Kids
Have you ever left church frustrated because you couldn’t worship freely because your kids were running around, asking you questions, or disturbing you? I have experienced this many times. There have been times that I have felt like I couldn’t experience Jesus anymore because my kids were in the way. (How sad!) After I had my first child, the most difficult realization was that my time was not my own anymore. I don’t go to Walmart alone. I don’t even go to the bathroom alone, so why would I ever hope to worship at church alone? Within the first 6 months of my son’s life, I had to make an important decision about worship at church. Do I just skip it because it is hard to manage kids and worship? Do I try to find a way to worship with my kids or just hope that they learn it in kid’s church later? I had to adjust my expectations or sit down and quit trying.
There is a great song on the Hillsong Jr. dvd (www.hillsong.com/kids) that says, “Make a crazy joyful noise, a wacky silly funny sound that you enjoy so everybody knows that you're praising the Lord.” I am beginning to realize that God is not intimidated by my child’s playful and silly nature. He made kids that way and then Jesus pointed at the kids and told the disciples to be like them. How could I ever expect them to sit in a seat and be quiet for one hour? So, I try to engage my kids during Sunday morning through dancing, jumping, skipping, singing, clapping, making noises, and whatever they like to do. No longer do I get to push everyone else out and focus only on myself and my needs. Corporate worship takes on a whole new meaning when you have kids.
Let me encourage you mama’s and daddy’s that you do not have to take a break from worship because you have kids. Your kids don’t have to wait until they are adults to encounter the Holy Spirit in worship. You can experience multi-generational worship now by practicing these few suggestions.
1. Practice at home. Kids imitate what they see. Listen to worship cd’s and dvd’s together (www.hillsong.com/kids). Also, listen to songs that your church sings on a regular basis. Repetition is important to kids. Play instruments, dance, jump, and sing.
2. Adjust your expectations. No, you won’t be able to unplug and forget about your kids. Worship with your kids will involve action, focus, explanation, and a sacrifice of the way you “used to do” worship.
3. Adjust their expectations. On the drive to church, explain what you expect from your kids during worship. Explain the importance of worshipping God and how they may do that. Also, explain how they may not do that (ex. running around the church without adult supervision, disrupting others, unplugging from worship to play on their ipad, etc).
4. Engage your kids in fun ways. Don’t expect your kid to sit still and be quiet. Be creative. Stand in the back, dance, clap your hands, raise your hands, jump up and down together. Or, if you are into more quiet activities, bring paper and crayons and encourage your child to create a beautiful picture for Jesus, write a song, or memorize a Bible verse. Whether you are a wild worshiper or a person who likes to sit and close your eyes and just breathe in the Holy Spirit, it is important to teach your kids how to connect during corporate worship.
5. Take turns with your spouse. Maybe this week I will engage our kids during worship so that my husband can separate and interact with God in a more intimate way. Or, he could be in charge of the kids for 2 songs and then switch with me for the last 2 songs. We don’t want to see our kids as a burden, but we do want to respect our needs as adults.
6. Ask them questions. Whenever you feel the Holy Spirit stirring up in the room, ask your kids if they feel something? Ask them what they see in their spirit. Ask questions that teach them how to interact with what God is doing in the room. This is a teachable moment.
I understand the desire to be free from the responsibility of your kids for an hour. Every parent needs a break. I understand the desire to worship freely, close my eyes, and not have to worry about screaming kids and stinky diapers. But I have made a conscious decision that Sunday morning worship is not the time to “let my kids go” or pretend they aren’t there. Sunday morning is a time for our family to learn to worship Jesus together.