Tag Archives: upbringing

Take Your Little Children to Church

Parents teach their faith by sharing their faith in worship with their children.
Parents teach their faith by sharing their faith in worship with their children.

An article I read recently reported that many people with young children allege that they choose not to attend worship, even though they claim that they love the Lord, because the church they want to attend does not offer babysitting during worship.

I have observed for a long time that the statistics are climbing for young people turning away from Christian faith, or claiming no connection with religion, and I think I know the reason. These young people truly have no connection, because their parents did not give them any reason to make a connection with Jesus.

The claim that a church should have babysitting for small children during church is completely at odds with the way the Bible teaches us to rear our children. Moses said that children should be part of our faith in action from the time they are born. We ought to be talking with them night and day about what God has said and done in our lives. If that is God’s teaching, then we certainly ought to be taking them with us to church.

Several years ago we visited a large Catholic church in a heartland state as guests of my sister-in-law. This church was filled with children, and some were babes in arms. During the worship, there was some minor scuffling in pews where there were numerous children. We heard a baby cry during the sermon and also during the words of institution. There were children everywhere and they were both seen and heard from time to time. It hurt nothing. In fact, my husband and I both remarked how good it was to have children in church.

Our own church at that time had a program to occupy children to age 12 with other activities during worship. The children never attended worship, although some were brought in for communion, and the adults never attended Sunday School. In the hour between two worship services attended by more than 500 adults, it would be unusual to have more than twenty in the adult Bible class.

When we Christians publicly lament the falling away of the current generation of young people, we might ask why they make this choice. Why do the young people not continue in the faith of their fathers? I believe the answer is that their fathers and mothers have not taught them the faith of their fathers or modeled before them what it means to have faith in Christ. Their parents have not sat with them in church and helped them to understand what worship is, starting in the cradle. It is a very secular notion that children should not be exposed to religion or asked to process the teachings of religion “until they are old enough to decide for themselves.” God’s way is to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

It is interesting to observe that the same secular thinkers who allege that people of faith have no right to teach their very young children about Jesus certainly believe that it is best to teach those same children about gender fluidity and the experimental way to determine sexual orientation at the vulnerable age of four or five. Secular thinkers validate the teaching Moses gave several thousand years ago, recorded in the Bible, a book secular thinkers and so-called progressive Christians consider to be a relic, not a guide. Contemporary culture leads contemporary parents astray by luring them to believe that children do not need, cannot handle, and suffer risk when exposed to religion in early childhood. Yet contemporary culture knows very well that in order to assure that a child lives a certain way, it is essential to start teaching him to live that way when he is very young.

Churches vary widely in the “services” available to protect parents from the discomfort of dealing with their children during worship services. My proposal: stop offering any such services. Children ought to remember that they cannot remember not going to church as a family. If they are in worship with their parents from the cradle, as babes in arms, then their early memories will be drenched in hymns, Scripture and the fellowship of the faithful. They certainly won’t understand everything as children, but being in worship with their parents provides all sorts of opportunities for parents to talk with their children about Jesus and to explain why we do various things as acts of worship. The things children learn in the context of the family relationship will serve them well when they learn to read and discover the same truths in the Bible for themselves.

As for the parental complaint that “I can’t worship when the children are fidgeting,” please remember that you take fidgety children to movies, ball games, and other activities where attention is required. Parents accept the obligation of rearing children when they bring children into the world. Teaching children to be quiet when told and to do other things when told is simply part of the process. Frankly, it seems to me that rearing children to learn how to meet God in worship is a very fundamental part of one’s own worship during the parenting years.

The author of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” Hebrews 1:1-2. The author of Hebrews knew Jesus and had a living relationship with him. In the context of that relationship, he knew God even more richly than through the revelation recorded in Scripture. Our children learn through relationship, too. In relationship with their parents, they learn that God is real, he loves them, and he deserves their worship. People certainly do pick up Bibles, read them, and meet Jesus in those pages, but children can meet Jesus in the lives of their parents long before they are able to read anything. If my relationship with Jesus means anything to me, why would I not share it with my baby in my arms?

The best thing churches could all do is to invite babies and small children to worship. Make sure parents know that children are wanted and welcome. Instead of bag with coloring pages, give parents small guides for worshiping with children. The guides can include ways to prepare the children for worship ahead of time and encouragement in the discipline and self-discipline that makes worship possible. It is a win-win when a child learns something about both obedience to parents and obedience to God in the space of one hour. That accomplishment is surely more valuable than coloring a few pages to be taken home and trashed.

Christian parents need to be filling their children’s minds and hearts with Jesus, because the secular thinkers of the world are aggressively using early childhood to teach Satan’s agenda in kindergarten and grade school. Christians dare not wait to tell children about Jesus until they are “old enough to decide for themselves.” If Christians hold back and do not fill their children up with Jesus when they are young, secular educators will fill those vulnerable little hearts up with broad knowledge of gender fluidity and sexual experimentation to find out “what makes you happy.” There won’t be any room for Jesus after the secular educators have done their work.

The evidence is all around us. Children who were shuttled off to nursery and children’s church during worship believe that adult worship is a boring and unpleasant obligation. It isn’t fun, like the fun of nursery and children’s activities. Christian parents need to teach their children that being a Christian isn’t about fun; it is about knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus can be fun, but there actually are more important aspects to life than having fun. If Christians want their children to know Jesus, they have the obligation to introduce their children to him at the earliest opportunity, and they must not let anyone tell them to wait till the child is “old enough to decide for himself.” Children do not get to decide much for themselves. Somebody will set the agenda for a child’s life. If the parent does not do it, secular educators will. Christian parents must bring their children of all ages with them into worship services.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Photo: artist not known
source: http://lemonade.fatcow.com

 

Whose Children Are They?

In a recent “Lean Forward” spot on MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry said: 

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a kind of a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s then we start making better investments. 

This announcement is troubling in many ways. Any parent who actually believes that children belong to their parents will find it objectionable. Christian parents, beyond their own natural understanding of the meaning of parenthood, accept some biblical mandates that stand in opposition to this view. Any person who believes in the traditional values of marriage, family, and children will be appalled at the very idea that children belong to the community, because most of them have had a lot of “everybody else is doing it” moments in which they firmly taught that “our family does not do it.”

Above all of these issues, anyone who has studied the USSR or any of the rhetoric of the Communist Party will recognize the way the Party separated children from their parents as a state policy in countries the Party controlled. Children of the Communist era grew up knowing that it was their duty to spy on their parents and tell on their parents for saying or doing things against the god-state each soviet republic had become. There are people who have asked me over the past five years, “Where did you get the idea that Barack Obama is a socialist?” My answer has always been, “I simply see what he stands for.” After this statement entered the public record, it became very clear that Melissa Harris-Perry is also a socialist. It is not name-calling to apply that label to a person who has spoken out consistently in support of socialist principles. It is simply recognition of her position politically and socially, no more pejorative than recognizing an oak leaf and acorns as evidence that a tree is an oak tree.

Melissa Harris-Perry has a history of supporting values destructive to families and supportive of state policy controlling family life. A Google search on her name will display evidence that she felt threatened in 2012 by anti-abortion activism. She supports the idea that a union of two homosexuals is a marriage. She thinks free contraception is a cultural imperative. She has a right to her opinions as an American citizen, but citizens with quite different opinions need to know where she stands in order to respond appropriately. It is important to know her general stance on family issues in order to assess the seriousness of this statement. The evidence reveals that this is a very serious statement.

Ms. Harris-Perry is not alone in her perceptions about the education of children. Public voices have already jumped to her side to say that if the community had owned the children in Sandy Hook, the shooter would never have become a shooter. There being absolutely no evidence to justify such a point of view does not seem to be important to people who want a simplistic solution to a complicated problem.

Christian parents need to be alert now that this statement has been widely broadcast. Voices in the media make it appear that her viewpoint is not unique. In fact, Christian parents who were unaware until now that some people believe this idea may be late in discovering that such ideas are being promulgated elsewhere. In schools. In school boards. In city councils. In state legislatures. In Congress. If someone promotes this idea in a nationally-broadcast statement, then it is likely to be boiling under the surface all through the culture.

Christian parents no doubt already feel targeted. Many Christian parents homeschool their children precisely in order to avoid letting the “community” teach their children values that the parents reject. Now they must be extremely vigilant to prevent social activists from creating legislation or regulations that will interfere with their ability to homeschool their children. There have been a number of attempts to prevent homeschooling parents from controlling their own curriculum, and this statement will almost certainly propel additional initiatives in that direction.

Do not think that you can sleep through this challenge. In Kazakhstan and Tajikistan today there are laws that forbid parents to take their children to worship services or to teach them to study the Bible. Such laws may sound outrageous and unthinkable in the US. Well, how outrageous is it to hear a television personality say that your children do not belong to you?

What do you see in your community? What do you see in your local schools? If you homeschool, what public pressure is being brought to bear on your right to educate your own children? What signs do you see that the culture of the US is pressuring the government of the US to take your children away from your control?