As parents we want our children to have the best opportunities to make the most of themselves. As Christians, we have a path that we want to guide them upon. As a Christian parent bringing a child to Church is of the utmost importance as it is part of the Christian journey in the Christian family.
There is no doubt that parenting is as hard as it is rewarding but when you are navigating the decisions and balancing priorities it is hard to know whether you should bring young children to services. If you do then how should you make sure they are engaged during the service?
Think about the message you communicate through actions
If you hand your child an electronic device like a tablet or a phone so you can concentrate on the service you are giving both overt and subliminal messages. Reverend Dr. Chris Oyakhilome DSc, DD says “that attitude of giving a child a tablet while service is on so they can play games, so they don’t disturb you is a time bomb!” He is very clear that when you do so you “are saying to them, it’s OK to not concentrate in church, you think you are trying to concentrate and don’t want them to distract you but you are giving them a mindset.”
Forming young minds
Reverend Dr. Chris Oyakhilome goes on to say, “It will form an attitude towards trivializing spiritual things in the future and by then it may be too late to correct.” Children have a huge capacity for learning, and he goes on to further explain that children are more than able to imbibe complex and simple ideas.
Of course, children will be restless during worship so what can I do? Think about what are we teaching our children about worship? By offering electronic games you are saying worship is boring.
So, engage your child during hymn singing. Look at them and smile as you sing. Sing words together and dance together to reflect the joy. As parents, we must train and turn our children’s hearts to the praise and worship of Jesus Christ. They must know they are included in this special time of worship.
Make Church special
Set aside a special piece of clothing for your children to wear to Church. It does not have to be expensive, but it should be something that gives over the message that their attendance and participation are valued and they are elevated by being in Church.
Those lessons, spoken or unspoken, are what your children are picking up when you allow them to play games during worship. If you are smiling with them, showing them the place and sharing the Bible they will know that this is a book of worth.
You can give them their own bible or prayer book. This could take many forms. You could even give them a custom-made prayer sheet they can draw on. Do as much as you can to engage them.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth It
I know that all this means that you may struggle to worship at times. During those younger years, those children are forming such valuable thoughts in their precious minds. Wouldn’t you rather struggle a little bit and have them grow up loving to worship and understanding what is going on?
It is incumbent upon parents to train children to put God first. If it is done with love it will be a lesson learned for all time. Pastor Chris reminds us that if done correctly your child,” will not depart from it.” They may say,” I may never be able to subscribe to all the parenting modules my parents used for us while growing up, but you see this love for God? They got it right.” When a child loves God simply then his character is formed. Simple things are what form our character. Remember, God is worthy of your effort. It will be a fight for a while, but the eternal destiny of your child is in the balance. It’s worth every effort to form the right character.