Monday, February 20, 2012

Ummm... I think it was about God, right?

That's what I would say if you asked me what yesterday's sermon at church was about.  Actually that's probably what I would say the past almost 4 years of sermons have been about.  I don't get to spend a lot of time just listening in church.

Is it just me, or does it seem that church (as in the Sunday morning church service, not the global concept of "church") and kids just don't mesh?  Seems kind of ironic, considering that Jesus said, "let the little children come to me."  In my experience, church is not designed for kids.  It disrupts nap schedules, feeding schedules, it requires long periods of sitting still and being quiet - it's hard for kids (and let's face it, some adults too).  I pack for a Sunday morning service very much like I pack for an airplane ride...  I've got an abundance of snacks, drinks, small toys, crayons, drawing pads, stickers, card games - you name it, I've probably got it in my bag.  And still, it seems like that hour and 15 minutes (or sometimes 20 or 25) is an eternity.  We usually sit at the back of the church - there's a pew right against the back wall that's set back a bit from the rest of the pews, so the kids aren't quite as confined and they've got a little space to move around without being too much of a disturbance (I hope!).  But still, my attention is far too divided to be able to follow a sermon, especially when Carey is in the sound booth and I'm on my own with the kids.  Usually I try to catch a phrase here or there, not even trying to get the general gist of the message, but maybe just one little morsel to take home with me.

In terms of keeping the kids involved/distracted, our church has made efforts toward that, but often it's just not enough.  There is often a feature story for the kids, or they get to go up to the front and play percussion instruments with the worship band, and usually there is "children's church" for the young kids during the sermon (which Annika has refused, literally kicking and screaming, to go to since Christmas).  For the littler ones, there is a nursery, full of toys, but I usually try to avoid going in there if possible.  Sometimes it's necessary, but I just feel like it's a complete waste of going to church if I go in there.  Nothing against the people who take their kids into the nursery - I know sometimes it's unavoidable.  However, once you're in there, you're probably not going to get anything more out of church (at least that's my experience, others may feel differently).  There is a speaker in there to hear what's going on in the sanctuary, and a big window to see, but often the kids make so much noise that no one even tries to listen or pay attention.  So the moms talk.  I can't blame them for talking (what else are they going to do?), and maybe there have been some very good conversations happening in there, but I just feel like it defeats the purpose of going to church for me.  I know, it's not like I'm getting so much out of church otherwise, but still.  Plus, it gets really hot (and sometimes quite stinky) in the nursery.

So what's the purpose of this rant?  I'm not sure.  I don't have any ideas as to how to change things, and I'm not even saying that changes need to be made (especially since I'm not going to volunteer to run programs or make changes or anything like that right now).  Maybe it's a rant, just for the sake of ranting.  Just to express my frustrations about the stage of life that we're in right now.  But maybe right now going to church isn't about me - maybe it's about teaching our kids the importance of going to church, and making it a priority (even when it isn't convenient).  Maybe just building that foundation is more important than what I'm getting out of the sermon each week.  And I know this stage won't last forever.  It won't be long and the kids will be grown up and sitting with their friends, whispering and passing notes and probably still not paying attention, and I'll be able to listen to a sermon again. 

I guess until then, pass the Cheerios and goldfish crackers, amen.


Melissa said...

I totally hear what your saying, Sydney can not nor so i expect her to be able to sit through a whole church service. Anytime when Kids church isn't happening I cringe. That being said I LOVE Sunday school, I feel like that is where I get spiritually fed at this stage in our lives. So I will continue to drop Sydney at her Sunday school class and go to mine:) Until I move to Nova Scotia and get to go church shopping all over again!

Melissa said...

Spelling error so should be do:)

Gin said...

I think you're right that it lays a foundation for kids. Till they're more settled, I'll provide the fish crackers!!

Laura Bollinger said...

That sounds very challenging. If you aren't able to drop your kids off in Sunday school or the nursery I can imagine how difficult it would be to really be engaged during the sermon! Maybe a really good book or some online sermons or something outside of Sunday mornings will be a better way for you to be fed spiritually for this season. My husband and I have been reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love and are really enjoying that as a way to be challenged/fed spiritually outside of church. Good luck and hang in there!

LaughingLady said...

I think all mothers of young children wonder what the point of going to church is for a while! I certainly did, too. But in this day and age when Sunday school and church attendence keeps dropping and everything from baby schedules to sporting events seems to take precedence over Sunday morning worship, I think it's so important to model to our children that it's a priority to us. People who get used to not going because their children make it impossible for them to get anything out of the service never seem to get back into the habit.

I think another thing we forget is that going to church isn't just about what we can get out of it, but what we put in. BEING the Church isn't just about our own personal growth, but being a blessing and encouragement to other believers as well. Even if you don't catch the gist of the message, a hug after the service, an offer to pray for a hurting friend, or even just a friendly, "Hello, how are you doing?" to an older person who can't get out much, could be exactly what someone else needed that day.

And until the day when your pastor can have your undivided attention again... take Gin up on the goldfish offer!!

Andrea said...

I completely agree with what Tammi said.

And on another note, not only can YOU be a blessing to someone like she mentioned, but your children are as well. Children are a very important part of church, and while I know some churches have the kids of all ages absent for the entire service, I like how our church includes them in the service. It might have its own challenges doing things that way, but I think there is tremendous value in having little children be a part of the service - even if just from their pews.