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Children and Church

As I sat in church today my mind wandered to many different places, I was distracted, big surprise. I had brought coloring books and markers, I thought I was prepared. After 5 minutes it wasn’t working the plan that I had prepared, was no longer working. The sermon had finally started and now they wouldn’t be quiet, they wouldn’t sit, let alone sit still. So it was off to “children’s church” (Sunday school), lately not their favorite place to be. When we go to our home church, we are the only non-Ugandans, Mzungu’s (yes even after attending this church for almost a year with the kids and on and off for 6 years, we still are not considered “normal”) But that is not the point of this particular blog, it has something to do with why my kids don’t like going to class, but not all of it.

So back to the story, Jacob has experienced being apart from me, being with all different types of kids. His reason for not liking class is the organization of the class, the way it’s structured and taught. He gets bored with the way that things are done by the locals. I don’t blame him, but if he can’t sit quiet in church, then he needs to go where he can sing, dance, play, and learn at his level. Parker is just not good at being by herself without me, unless there are swings, sand, toys or food. It is just Parker, she loves her momma and is very selective with what she will leave for. She also hates being looked at, touched, or babied by her peers.

Onto the real heart of this blog, children and church. My personal take on the topic. Church service has some amazing parts that children should be a part of like corporate worship, prayers, testimony, offering, and communion. However, the sermon itself is not usually something that is child appropriate. I don’t mean appropriate in the sense that they shouldn’t hear it, but rather it is not being presented in a way that a child can understand it. I strongly believe that children should experience the teachings of the Bible at their levels of understanding and presented in a way that allows the children to interact and ask questions. During the service it is very hard to explain topics to the kids when they ask them, and it’s better to be able to explain the lessons at a later time. I think that it is important for us as parents to share what we learned in Church and then allow them to ask questions.

My personal experience with children in church, my own and other people’s kids, is that it is very distracting. Even when the kid is super cute and quiet writing, drawing, playing quietly they are distracting. As a parent it is hard to listen to what the preacher is saying when I am constantly making sure my child’s needs are met, that they are quiet, do they need a snack, do they need to go to the bathroom, they are kicking the seat in front of them, they are singing, they are playing with the other kids….you get the picture. I get distracted by cute babies, kids moving around, even sleeping kids can be so adorably distracting.

But what to do? Possible solutions? Have an amazing children’s program that your kids love and want to go to each Sunday. Leave the kids at home. Go to class with them. Put the fear of God in them to behave (we all know that doesn’t work, because we are not God, and they do not fear us long enough to make it work.) Seriously, I personally am in a quandary and I am pretty sure I know what I need to do, I just don’t have the strength to do it. I know that I need to sacrifice a few weeks or months to teach the teachers, beg for volunteers, and show by example how a program for kids in church should work. Selfishly I just want to be able to sit in church, distraction free and be feed by the Holy Spirit. Instead, I am sitting there in church only hearing kids in and out of church, my kids, other kids, and wondering does anyone else see and hear these kids or is it only me?!

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Are you ignoring Him like I am? Is it working? For me it’s not. I have tried running away from it, going to a different church, one with a better program. But still the Holy Spirit is leading me to not run but to use the gifts He has given me. To teach, to give, and to inspire. What are your Spiritual gifts? Are you using them? As we approach this Easter weekend, think about what Jesus sacrificed for us, what do we sacrifice for Him?

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Words are powerful…so you should know their meaning.

*This post is dedicated to my late Grandma Dee, the woman who I swear knew everything.

I do not claim to know everything, quite the contrary, I am always seeking new information or rather the definition of old information. I remember I used to be so annoyed that my mom would use big words around us as kids. I would say, “Mom, what does that mean?” She would tell me the meaning and I would respond by saying, “Why didn’t you just use that word, I knew that word.” She was teaching me a wonderful lesson, never settle for what you already know; seek to learn more.

I know that I am not perfect, quite the contrary, I make mistakes and make poor choices. However, I know that I am perfectly and wonderfully made. I don’t always do the best at it, but I am supposed to take care of the body that God perfectly and wonderfully made. I enjoy the fact that here in Uganda my kids get to experience the joy of playing outdoors. Great exercise for the body, mind and soul. Some of my favorite times were when we used to explore our farm; I have a scar on my wrist that is a little reminder of that fun.

I try to speak the truth that I believe from the Bible, in love, even if that means that it may be perceived as the opposite. I don’t hide behind the Bible, quite the contrary, my Bible is open. The song we sang as children in Sunday School, “…hide it under a bushel, NO!, I’m gonna let it shine.” When you meet me, you should know that I am a Christian by the words that I speak, and the actions that I display. I don’t stand on the street, shouting to the masses, but I do allow God to speak through me, in everything I do.  Driving in Uganda, well (that’s a whole other topic.)

From Dictionary.com

Observation– noun

  1. an act or instance of noticing or perceiving.
  2. an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrence for some scientific or other special purpose
  3. something that is learned in the course of observing things:

Judgement-noun

  1. an act or instance of judging.
  2. the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good-sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
  3. the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must  rest on the evidence.

Prejudice– noun

  1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
  2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

Injustice– noun

  1. the quality or fact of being unjust; inequity.
  2. violation of the rights of others; unjust or unfair action or treatment.
  3. an unjust or unfair act; wrong.

Criticism– noun

  1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
  2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.

This is my prayer for myself, my family and the World.

May my observations be pure, my judgment be objective, and my criticism be based on merit. May I never show prejudice for that is without knowledge, and may I never show injustice as that is a violation of the rights of others. May I always be growing in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as that will guide me in my knowledge of life living. May I know when to step up, step back and step away. May I know when to speak up, shut up, or pray up.