Church with Kids: Why Bother?

Children Fighting In Front Of Mother At HomeWith three children some Sundays, no, MOST Sundays, it would be easier to stay at home than go to church. Being married to the pastor who needs to be at church early, it has become my responsibility to gather the brood and get them out the door on time, usually while juggling a hot dish. He always graciously asks if there is anything he can do before he leaves. A helpful question, but so much changes in a mere 30-40 minutes.

Inevitably about 10 minutes before we need to leave, a baby needs to eat.  Nursing has become cue for total mayhem from the other children.  Just how much can we get away with while mom has a baby attached to her? Now it is time to go and shoes that were on are off. One kid is digging in the pantry looking for something to eat and the other kid is in the middle of something very important and cannot think about getting her shoes on until it is finished. Then I start getting impatient because I like to be on time and then my voice gets a little louder and a little less kind.  Please, get your shoes on.

Meanwhile I am loading a crying baby in a car seat and getting the food ready. The dialogue goes something like this:

I asked you to get your shoes on. No, you can’t go in your flip-flops, it is winter. Here put this coat on. Well, you need a coat, it’s cold. Sure you can bring that giant stuffed animal to church, you just have to share it.

Baby is still crying and then another kid starts whining about something and the other kid has disappeared to do Lord knows what. Church starts in 5 minutes and I forgot to change my shirt that has spit up all over it.  This is the point in the Sunday when I am tempted to throw in a Veggie Tales DVD and call it church, because as many parents of young children know, in reality, I will probably get more out of it.

Getting out the door to go to church is really only half the battle. Once at church my children run around and fight with each other or fall down from running around making it almost impossible to start and finish a conversation with another adult. My husband begins the service and I herd my small children close to my side so we can worship the Lord together.  Holding my baby, I try to keep my toddler from running away to play with the toys and my kindergartner from distracting everyone by her beautiful interpretive dancing that somehow more closely resembles a back-up dancer at a Beyonce concert. I close my eyes for a moment to worship only to open them again and see a child either talking to a friend (loudly) or balancing from a chair.  I am attempting to perfect the purposeful “stop-what-you-are-doing-right-now” look, but it does not faze my children.

I am exhausted just writing about our typical Sunday. But, you know, when I get home on Sunday evening with sugar high kids, (they always ask for another cookie when I am immersed in a conversation and I nod to get them to stop interrupting) I never regret going to church. Despite unfinished conversations, distracted worship and missed sermons, something happens at church. God shows up. Not in a profound “slain in the spirit” way, He’s just there in the room full of people who love Jesus and are striving to live for Him. It is so good for me to be part of something bigger than myself, to remember that this life is not lived in vain, to remember I am not alone. I want my children to experience this, to learn that they are part of something huge and beautiful and messy and even as children they are invited to participate. And although it would be easier and more convenient most days, we cannot get this from a Veggie Tales DVD. So, again on Sunday, we will head out the door with mismatched socks, spit-up stained shirts, curse words on the tip of my tongue because at the end of the day it is completely worth it.

~Kate W.

2 Responses to “Church with Kids: Why Bother?”

  1. Anna Armstrong November 19, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    This is beautifully said, Kate. I love the honesty with which you write and your brave conclusion. Yesterday I was standing next to this wonderful mama in church when suddenly her currently-potty-training little guy spoke up (in the middle of the service) “I’m peeing!” It seems like being a parent is quite the sanctifying process and I imagine church-going is no less a part of that. Love you guys so much!

  2. Connie Buckley November 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Any one of us who has had any experience with motherhood, can SO identify with you, Kate, and with ALL young Moms. Those of us who are critical of a misbehaving child or a frazzled Mom, are simply suffering from memory loss or are in denial. Too often we forget the loving words of Jesus, ‘Let the children come to me.’ I do admit to being very selfish when I go to church. I want to hear my Lord speaking to ME. That is just the perfect opportunity for God to whisper in my ear, ‘Loosen up, Connie…You have had your whole lifetime to learn about Me.’ God is not my nanny who needs to continually spoon-feed me. I need to spend more of my life/my time, searching out His truths/words/lessons. My job is also to help the young Moms to be able to bring their children to God’s knee.
    It is these same disruptive children that I pray will be able to minister to me when I am on my death-bed.
    So…hang in there young Mom’s. It really IS worth all of the trouble/anxiety/frustration/embarrassment/humiliation/etc. to bring your little ones to church. God loves their creativity/openness/excitability/honesty/lack of social filters/etc. You can definitely keep busy doing God’s work.

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