You're doing something eternally important! As parents, we know worship with kids is not easy, our wives (Beka and Margi) remind us often. Parenting in general is tiring. Parenting in church can be really tiring.
We know you came to church already tired. Your battle most likely began at home while rushing around to get everyone dressed, fed and off to church. The battle continues at church. Juggling everything/everyone as you find a seat. We see you wince as your child cries and we see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks, anything to try to calm them down. We see you cringe when they “whisper” every thought. We hear the exasperation, the pleading & begging. We see you speaking with your older child for the 10th time, “No, the service is not over.” Not everyone is looking, but we know it feels that way. We’ve sat with you, holding a child/grandchild in the pew, we know the hopeless feeling.
You’re wondering, is this worth it? We know that a few families gave up the battle at home asking, “Why do I bother?” You often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. Going to church to hear the Word of God, and leaving with the knowledge that no one, including yourself, heard a word. We have seen it in our wives when we come home. We know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but we want you to know, it matters. It matters to us. It matters to my children (& grandchildren) to not be alone (read: the only kids) in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people joining them in worship and passing on the faith. And even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.
What you are doing is eternally important. When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do is a family affair, God’s family, and has been passed down from generation to generation. We gather together around God’s Word and Sacrament to grow in the faith and pass it on to the next generation. When you are here, we have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are confirmed and are able to behave and be quiet. We know you are trying to teach them how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.
It matters that they learn at a young age that worship is what we do as a community of faith in response to what God has done in, through and for us. It matters that they see our Lord is a Lord who serves. It matters that they learn about the faith by encountering God’s Word Sunday after Sunday. It is important that they learn everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as baptized members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can understand, read, pray or follow along to be welcome here. It’s vital that our children learn they are an integral part of this church and that their prayers, their songs, and even their perfectly timed cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.
We know it can be hard to bring your children to church, but thank you for all you do. Please know that your family - with all of its joyful ‘noise’ and struggles - is not simply tolerated, but welcomed. You are a vital part of this community, God’s family, gathered in worship to the glory of our Heavenly Father. Together we will encounter God and express our thanks and praise to Him for His many gifts. Together we will educate the next generation of Christians and expand the kingdom of God. Don’t give up hope, what you do this day will make an eternal difference.
God Bless each of you for the work you do in raising His children,
Pastors Mark and Mike