Monday, September 24, 2012
My family has attended a "family integrated" church in the past, and while we greatly enjoyed the fellowship times outside of the church service (at least two a month), we found that our family was looking for more than just the Sunday service - the only formal instruction time this specific church offered. As a homeschooling family, we wanted our children to be able to interact with other children in a Christian setting more often than what they were getting. For us, it was not a matter of children in the service, but rather the lack of any instruction geared specifically toward them, such as a Sunday School class.
I was highly interested in reading Curt and Sandra Lovelace's new book, Children In Church, when the opportunity arose. Having participated in the congregation I just described, and now working toward a ministry position in a denomination that definitely encourages childrens church, youth groups, and the like, I am curious as to how to combine the two successfully. I have experienced occasions when a family comes for a visit, and they want their child to stay with them - either because they are uncomfortable sending their child off with strangers, or the child is shy and prefers to stay with mom and dad. I was hoping to find in Children In Church a way to address this topic with future congregations, so that it is not an issue and these families are welcomed warmly.
I am greatly pleased with what I read in the chapters of this book! I greatly appreciate that the Lovelaces devote a large portion of the book to the Biblical basis for children in the worship service and outlining their belief and understanding of God's Word on this topic. I feel that the information will help me settle any future concerns that church members might have over children being in the service. Now that I am finished, I feel equipped to assist a "traditional" church from my denomination in welcoming children into the service - most likely through a monthly family-style worship service, but more importantly, on those Sundays when we are blessed with visitors that need the comfort of staying together as a family.
Throughout Children In Church, the Lovelaces give loads of helpful ideas and instruction on how to help children to be able to sit in a church service as well as actually get something out of it. I have heard some of them before, but I love their idea of easing a child into taking notes over time through drawing a picture for them to color based on the sermon, then ending (when they are eventually ready) with them making their own notes. The tone of the book is gentle, and encourages the reader to find what works for them and their family - and to keep trying, even if the first attempts feel unsuccessful.
Children In Church can be found at http://childreninchurch.com/order/ as an advance reader copy for $12. The book focuses on parents with younger children, but I think that anyone that loves children would get something out of it. In my opinion, it should be required reading for anyone involved in church leadership!
***Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of Children in Church in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. All opinions are my own.