I borrowed a friend’s copy of this book on Monday and finished it last night…a very quick read, though not lacking in content by any means. I was actually quite surprised to find that a lot of Castleman’s writing about Sunday morning worship was very convicting. How many times do I rush to worship with an unprepared heart or even worse, an indifferent attitude. I was encouraged to think highly of Sunday mornings…to even spend my week looking forward to this special day that God has set aside for His people. I was also pleased to gain some helpful insights and practical ideas for guiding my children into worship as well. She certainly furthered my belief that children should sit with their parents during church services but also that parents should be actively seeking ways to engage their children in the service (i.e.-helping them learn the hymns or worship songs, teaching them to listen to the corporate prayers and asking them to be listening for a particular part of the sermon like a story, etc.). She gives a rough guideline of introducing children to the services around age three or four. I personally think four is a little late for our family, but that’s one great thing about this book. Its a helpful tool or guide for parents to use as they think about the best way to begin teaching their children to worship (for this purpose I am referring to corporate worship within a local church), but a wise and discerning parent can tailor her suggestions to best suit the needs of the family, the particular child and the given church situation. I would especially recommend this book to any parent who has questioned if children’s programs during an adult service or “Children’s Church” where children participate in an entirely different service are really the best way for children to learn how to worship and love God.
Kevin and I have talked at length this week about the variety of ideas we’ve been introduced to through this book. Molly Kate has already proven to us that she can sit through our morning service (though I do plan to continue bringing snacks while she’s under three). I’m going to try to limit the activities that I pack for her…I’m thinking two of her board book bibles and since the stickers really helped her sit still during the sermon, I’m planning on writing one verse from the sermon on a piece of construction paper and letting her decorate it with stickers. Then we’ll use that verse as our memory verse for the week! Of course, I’m doing the majority of the memory work, but I tell you she is already memorizing right alongside me! If I say “Children” to begin Ephesians 6:1, she says “obey parents” all by herself! Lastly, I think we will continue to allow her to go to nursery during the evening service. One friend always used to say “Never set your children up for failure.” I think about this all the time and given how tired Molly Kate is by the time our Sunday evening service rolls around, I know we would be setting her up to fail by asking her to sit through another hour long service. Who knows…by the time M gets home and she sees him staying with Mommy and Daddy during both services, she may decide she wants to as well! But for now, seeking to introduce her to more of our awesome God by having her the Sunday morning service with us seems to be what God would have us to do.