Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Kids n Worship Part 3: Lowering our Expectations to Gain More

Instilling a love for worship in your children...

Hi! And welcome back to the third week of Kids ’n Worship!

If you’re joining us for the first time please go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 of Kids ’n Worship! Have you done it? Oh, great! So let’s move on!

That right there is a picture of my family rocking out! You know what we’re rocking out to?
Take a guess....come on!

Okay, I’ll tell you what if you stick around long enough...I’ll tell you in this post! You like surprises right?

Hubby Dearest and I LOVE to dance and sing with the kids! This picture was actually earlier this year! It’s what we do. Instead of the TV running in the background in the evenings, I come home from work and plug in a CD or my flash drive and we jol a little bit while preparing dinner and having baths!

We dance around the lounge and kitchen like we are at a rave and sing our hearts out not worrying that the neighbors who literally live 20 feet from our front door can hear us! Music is a huge part of our lives!

That’s why I’ve spent the last few weeks talking about what we’re doing to instill a heart of love of worship in our children! Now, I don’t think I don’t know what I’m talking about I’m an expert and I still have a lot to learn...this is just what is working for us and what God has encouraged us to do!

In the first installment of Kids ’n Worship, I talked a little about what is worship and why we do it! Believe me, a basis of understanding of the importance of worship in our lives is such a necessary step!

In part two, I talked about preparing ourselves for Sunday morning! I discussed a little bit about the chaotic scene that has so often been my house when trying to get the children and yourself up and out the door on time (and clean) in order to be at church. I mentioned how it can get you pretty downhearted and start off your worship in totally the wrong attitude. I went on (as I always do :-/) to talk about a few key steps in ensuring your Sunday morning runs a little bit better!

You know what, the following Sunday I put this into action and we were all standing outside the house 15 minutes ahead of time waiting for it to be time to leave! That’s right people, I had a FIFTEEN minute gap! Now we all know, in mommy time that is like half a century!

I really do hope you’ve been enjoying this series and if you’re just now joining us, please take some time to go read the previous two posts! I promise you won’t regret it!

This week I want to discuss understanding what we are to expect from our toddlers in worship! Now, parents, I’m not talking about kids who are 8, 9, or 10 years old here! I haven’t had a child that age so I’m not giving advice there! I’m strictly speaking TODDLER. That’s where my eh-hem, expertise, experience exists!

Have you actually sat with your toddler in a while? I mean really sat with them....still....quiet...in one place? No?! Really?! Sorry gather my lack of shock here.

You know why I’m not surprised? Because none of us living in reality have managed this! They’re 2 / 3 years old! Dudes....they’re busy! They’re attention span is almost non existent! They’re curious! And they have a LOT to say!

Maybe I’m crazy, but Lil Mister cannot sit still through an entire worship service AND sermon! That’s one of the reasons I absolutely LOVE my church. The kids are with us during worship. Why? Because the church recognizes the importance of worship and exposing our kids to it from such a young age!

Worship for us lasts about 30 minutes. This is a typical Sunday morning service. We have a call to worship by the praise team. This is a song that let’s everyone know our chit chatting is done and we’re going to start now. Normally, everyone finds their seats and just begins joining in singing.

After this someone will quickly give announcements and we’re back to singing. We have a couple of songs and then prayer and tithes and offerings. Anther thing I love that my church does, kids take up the tithe. It isn’t because we want to belittle the importance of it, but it is so that we can teach the children how important it is and that they need to be a part of it!

While the tithe is being collected, they offer a time for weekly testimony. This is an opportunity to quickly share how God is working in our lives. Even the kids are allowed to get up and share. This again...is so awesome! The children are involved in every aspect of the worship service.

Finally, we sing a couple more songs before dismissing the children for Sunday school.

30 minutes seems so short...but I promise you Lil Mister isn’t going to sit the whole time. And it’s made my life so much easier since I stopped expecting him to.

Let’s just get it out there...in case you haven’t caught on, the point of this post is for you to understand that your toddler is not going to sit still through the entire service and you need to learn that it is OK! If you’re church isn’t so friendly towards children and this bothers you, I strongly suggest you look for a new home!

I know it’s not that easy, I’ve had to face the challenges of finding a church when I moved to South Africa. I hated the process. I hated the adjustment period. And I praise God He knew to direct my heart to a kid friendly congregation!

But, honestly, if you are avoiding church because the other people are giving you the stink eye when you’re child stands in the pew and belts out How Great is Our God....then I think you need to find a church family that is nurturing your child’s developmental needs!

We want to foster positive feelings and memories towards church and worship! I want my boys to look back and say, ‘Hey, I’ve always enjoyed church as a child...I think I’ll still enjoy it now that I’m an adult on my own!’ Instead, too many people today are complaining about going as adults because what they remember from being a kid is being in uncomfortable clothes, while sitting through a boring and dull service, and getting a spanking by dad after church because they weren’t quiet enough! This type of memory isn’t going to encourage Lil Mister to worship!

Lil Mister needs room....but that doesn’t mean he needs to be allowed to do what he wants! The same way I need to understand that he isn’t going to sit stalk still for 30 minutes, he must understand that this isn’t a time to run up and down the isles while roaring like a dinosaur! There are still boundaries. It’s a middle line if you must.

So...how do we walk this line? I understand that he needs to move and that the best way for him to stay interested is for him to see. Therefore, I let him stand in the seat when we stand to sing. Of course, I stand right next to him so he can’t fall, but if he can see the praise team and see the words on the boards changing...he is a lot more into it.

Next, I encourage him to sing and praise him for it! Yep, if that means he sings at the top of his lungs...then go for it son! Nobody is going to tell me that I ruined their worship experience by allowing my son to praise God. If anything, this should encourage the others around you more! Jesus said to let the children come...and I’m sending mine running full steam ahead!

I, however, do not allow him to roam the isles. If I notice that he is getting to busy, we get up and move to the back of the congregation. He has a little bit more room to roam and less distraction for the others. But he must stay at the back then. (Usually, I tend to sit further to the back anyways now....out of politeness for everyone else! I can’t help it if I must leave mid-worship because someone has a poo...it’s just easier if I’m already at the back!) And you know what?  I can still worship just as well!

I, as well, have made it clear that we aren’t screaming or roaring or anything of such. When he has acted up, we went outside of the church for punishment.

Yes, there were a few rough Sundays at first and every now and then we still have a bad one. He is 2! But you know what, by setting firm boundaries of what he was and wasn’t allowed to do based on where his attention limitations were....I have been able to improve my worship experience tenfold and make him realize that being involved is really fun!

He sings along because he can see the joy we both get from it! I’ve done everything I can to make worship a positive experience for him. Rather than a constant punishment struggle in which he must stay still and quiet only reiterating negative emotions towards the experience....I’ve worked to create an environment (with the help of an amazing congregation) in which he will grow up feeling secure enough to express himself (i.e. singing his heart out, raising his hands), comfortable enough that he isn’t worried about messing up (i.e. letting him stand high so he can see) but yet still aware enough that he knows the right and wrong!

I hope this gave you some perspective on how children can be during service! Personally, it’s time we start phasing out the old! Adults need to accept children! We need to realize the old saying ‘to be seen and not heard’ is completely wrong! Children need to express themselves! They need us to listen to them! And what a better way to encourage this than to say...SING YOUR HEART OUT FOR GOD! And while we’re at it...we’ll dance and laugh too because that is how much joy God brings to our hearts!

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.                                                                                       Psalm 149:3       
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say REJOICE.                      Philippians 4:4
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.                                                                                   Psalm 16:9
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:22

Oh yea....I did promise I'd tell you! ;-)
We were rocking out to....JESUS CULTURE! That's right people! It wasn't rock music, or pop music or even country! We were ecstatic and having so much fun dancing and singing to Praise and Worship!

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Shana Danae..

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