We have good weeks and bad weeks.
Matt and I are beginning to try and teach Isaac to pay attention during the service. He continues to do pretty well during the song part of the service, but he definitely doesn't make it through the whole sermon yet. BUT two ideas have helped a bit and I plan to make them a regular part of transitioning all of our children into church.
1. Allow talking. I know! I've had to re-train my brain BIG TIME on this one. I've always thought my goal was to be quiet and keep Isaac quiet. I've changed my mind. In Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship, Robbie Castelmann points out that leaning over and explaining big words or tying a thought from the sermon back into the week can be a helpful way to get kids to start engaging with their minds on Sunday morning. Isaac is still really young for this, but I now "speak" during much of the song service. I whisper in Isaac's ear the "jist" of the song while we sing so that he knows that words like "Redeemer" mean Jesus and that "Body" means all the other people at church who believe in Jesus too (or I just try to summarize a verse or chorus into a preschool friendly sentence or two). Castleman even allowed her kids to ask questions and, as long as it could be explained in a few words, she'd help them. If it needed more time she'd let them know that they would talk about it later. Isaac's never asked a question about the service, but I plan to allow for this as he gets older.(Note: Of course, it's important that we remain courteous to our Brothers and Sisters who are there to worship as well. You may need to sit somewhere more "discreet" if this seems to distract those around you. The dear elderly ladies who sit in front of us are very gracious about the noise coming from our row. :) And I really do whisper as softly as I can and still be heard by him.)
Schaeffer's drawings are much more artistic, but less colorful, to give you another idea. In the chapter she gives her illustrations from two different sermons. The book is almost worth the investment just to see those and get a really good look at how this could look with your own kids.
Now I'm not going to try to give you some grand idea that Isaac sits riveted for the whole sermon to my fascinating drawings. It's still going to be a while before he'll sit and listen the whole time. Right now we're doing good if he makes it five minutes, BUT I feel like we're taking steps that make listening and learning a real possibility while showing him that what the pastor is saying is not "just for the adults."
Do you have any ideas for helping train little ones not to "just be quiet" during the service, but to begin to actively engage in worship and learning?
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