Sunday, May 4, 2008
If you know me well, you will not be surprised to hear that my heart and that of my husband's, is wrapped around the idea of family integrated worship (FIW). I am currently reading the above book and enjoying the pastor's humor as well as his message about families.
Our desire is that our boys would be with us during the entire church service, small group fellowships and other times of corporate worship (as opposed to a nursery, classroom, sunday school, etc.). Although there is nothing inherently wrong with these classes (my father has been a children's pastor for many years; my husband and I were youth leaders when we were first married), our main concern is that we have come to church to worship and the modern church culture tells us that we must separate at the door.
We are excited to have them with us during the music, prayer, communion, baptisms, and preaching because we see it is as not only great teaching moments, but also a lesson in discipline, respect, submission and responsibility. Will my two year old pick up on every part of the service? Not yet, but we are training through our inclusion that we want him to participate- and one day, as he matures, he will understand. We have had wonderful times to communion and fellowship together and it has sparked many conversations in our home.
Our children are social and love the friendships of children from our home group. I am not concerned that they are missing out on any Biblical truths or socialization because we have kept them out of the classrooms. We study the Word daily with them at home (as I know many do who have their children in church classes).
I have two VERY energetic little boys. It is not in their nature to sit still and be content to read quietly. When we first visited a FIW church about one year ago, I went away feeling quite discouraged. My oldest, then three years old, had rolled under the pews, did somersaults on the pews, and tried to write with crayon in every hymnal he could get his hands on. I was mortified, to say the least.
In the past year it has become very clear to me that I was expecting too much of them at that time. Not because of their ages, but because of their training. They were used to the toy filled nursery with sound proof walls; the gymnasium filled with games and loud play. They had never been required (by us) to sit still during a worship service; to learn to whisper instead of shout; to submit to their parental authority in the midst of other adults and children. Now, granted, we're not pushovers, but they were only 1 and 3, right? Could this truly be asked of toddlers...to obey and respect our authority? (I am not being sarcastic in this statement, but this was truly the cry of my heart...to reach what seemed impossible)
I found out that it is possible. Honestly, 100% possible. My boys are now 2 and almost 5 years of age; still very WILD and all boy! Do they always listen? Absolutely not. That is why, however, God has given us the blessing of discipline. Can I tell you the joy that is felt by both parent and child when there has been restoration after the sin?! A sunday school teacher does not have the authority or the time to discipline each child, obtain repentance and restore that child to a right spirit.
As I mentioned before, we do not attend a FIW church. We have been going there for approximately 7 months and we have many wonderful friends in our small group that have welcomed not only us, but our children to sit alongside them during our group discussions and Bible study. This is so encouraging and had made us feel so comfortable! (thank you!)
Many Christian families are going to choose to do many different things within their lives as the Lord directs and leads through wisdom and maturity. My desire is not to judge the motives of a fellow brother or sister in Christ as they do what they have prayerfully considered for their family, but rather to share our family's vision.
Have a wonderful week, friends!