The Why and How of Keeping Your Children With You in Church

Last week I discussed the importance of family time and how often the church segregates the family by age.

Today I am going to delve into why we have decided to keep our children with us during the worship service each week. You might wonder why I would even want to do such a thing! Most weeks it’s a lot of work and some of those Sundays I find myself asking the same thing. I’m confident that it’s the best thing for my family. My children can learn Bible knowledge and memorize scripture anytime, but there are so many things they can only learn and experience from this hour on a Sunday.

Why and How

Why I Keep My Children in the Church Service With Me:

  • We can worship as a family and teach our children how to worship.
  • Children can observe the offering plate being passed and even place their own money in it.
  • They can participate in singing and praying and watch the adults around them do the same thing.
  • As communion and baptism happen children ask questions and you can have great discussions (even a 2 1/2 year old wonders what is going on).
  • To learn from the sermon. You’d be surprised what little tidbits a 2 1/2 year old can pick up and remember. My daughter can hear something once and repeat it weeks later.
  • The children learn to sit. (This comes in handy for concerts and weddings as well.) They don’t need to be constantly entertained and catered to.

I’m still right in the midst of figuring out the best way to get a toddler to sit through church but I’ll share some things that have worked for me so far. Even if your children don’t sit in church with you on a regular basis, hopefully you’ll get some ideas for the occasions  they do.

Hints To Help Your Child Sit Through Church:

  • Have them participate as much as possible. Stand when everyone stands, sit when everyone sits. Teach them to bow their heads and close their eyes (my daughter likes to make sure that I’m doing this too).
  • They can place money in the offering plate.
  • Pack some quiet activities. (We like some of these Lari Toys.)
  • Have a pad of paper and writing utensil (or a mini magnadoodle). They can scribble or copy you taking notes.
  • A picture Bible is great for little ones to look at during the sermon. (We are using The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name)
  • Bring out a quiet snack for later in the service if your child has been well behaved.
  • Be willing to leave. I’ve had to go and sit outside or in the foyer when my child got too loud. However, she still had to sit. I didn’t reward unruly behavior by allowing her to run around and play. (That would only make it harder to get her to behave the following week.) One week we went and buckled in the car and waited for church to get out.

Some Sundays are harder than others but I feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and will tell you from experience it gets better! We went through some rough Sundays when we were adjusting to little brother but are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and have actually sat through church 3 Sundays in a row. Hooray for progress!

Come back Thursday to read some ways you can be a blessing to those with kids in church with them!

Do you have your children with you on Sundays?
What suggestions do you have for getting a child to sit quietly for over an hour?

Linking up to Fellowship Fridays, Essential Fridays, Mama Moments, Welcome Home Wednesday, Mommy Brain Mixer, Thrifty Thursday

23 thoughts on “The Why and How of Keeping Your Children With You in Church

  1. Keri @ Growing in His Glory

    Deanna, I am in the same boat and even wrote a post of reasons why we still go to church even when it’s hard because we too value that time they spend in worship with us. I really appreciate your point that they can learn Bible knowledge and memorize scripture anytime, “but there are so many things they can only learn and experience from this hour on a Sunday.” That is so true! I try to recreate Sunday morning at worship at home sometimes but it is just not successful. The blessings of fellowship with other believers, the singing and praise of worship, taking of the communion, etc. are all parts of worship that we just can’t replicate at home; it’s not the same. And our kids need to experience worship with other believers so they know God is real and that He is to be worshiped and also so they know there is a time to sit quietly and focus on Him. “They don’t need to be constantly entertained and catered to.” AMEN!

    We do all of the same things you mention. Quiet bags (our church provides these but we also pack our own), a little snack, money for the offering, a few books, paper and pencil, lacing toys. Plus, with our 4-year-old, I write words like God, Jesus, church, etc. for her to practice copying. When she hears a word during the sermon, she marks it, keeping a tally. It helps her pay attention.

    Love this series! Thanks for sharing!
    Keri @ Growing in His Glory

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Ooo, I’m going to have to find your post and read it! So thankful for your encouraging words and that we share the same perspective once again. Our world is so kid driven and what’s easiest for the parents driven, it can be hard to go against the flow. My oldest is only 2 1/2 so she doesn’t give me grief on this stuff yet, but I’m sure that’s coming eventually. 🙂

      Like the idea for keeping tally of the words heard during the sermon. I’m going to remember that for a few years from now.

      Reply
  2. Jelli

    My little ones still head to the nursery most Sundays with me once the sermon begins, but I love reading about how you make this work. Our church is good about letting kids be kids, singing, dancing, and flag waving during worship times. I love that. My little girl just gets too fidgety to keep up with on my own during the sermon, so I take her to play and my baby to nurse. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to try this!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      How neat that your church let’s the little ones actively participate in the worship! Wish that more churches were like that. It’s definitely hard to have toddlers in the service but it’s special too. It’s neat that you can all three go to the nursery together. They definitely have their place and different families have different needs! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
    2. Leigh Ann

      I agree it’s not for everybody. A lot of mommies need that time to be alone with The Lord. My kids are old enough they can do a little of both.

      Reply
      1. Deanna Michaels Post author

        I agree, we all have different things that work better for our family (and often time for each individual child). Love that your kids are old enough to do both. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

        Reply
  3. Mel Caldicott

    Interesting thoughts here. We don’t keep our kids in the whole service but are still figuring out how to help them participate and feel more involved in the first half an hour before they go out to their groups. Aged 9, 7 and 4 – the 4 year old enjoys the worship. But the older two tend to disassociate themselves from it even though we’ve talked about it with them loads. They tend to participate much more in stuff with their peers then when in a mixed congregation. Not my ideal and would love to keep working on it. But seems to be how it is.
    Love your thought-provoking advice and intentionality here.
    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Hmm, I haven’t dealt with kids older than 2 1/2 yet. It is so hard when kids don’t really care – can’t really force them to be interested in something. 🙂 I don’t know what the right solution is. Maybe just balance and options. . .

      Reply
  4. Kelli Pruitt

    I so totally agree with this. We are church planters in Indiana and we have designed our whole service style around the concept of keeping the family together for worship. We have Family worship on Sunday AM and Sunday PM is our all about kids program where each adult is actively playing a role in training and teaching their children and others about the love of God, and worship. It is important for kids to learn from the beginning what it is to sit still in church and worship God. It’s no wonder so many churches have frustrated members when they keep the kids out of worship until they are in 6th grade and then expect them to sit still and be quite in church all the sudden. They haven’t been properly trained to do so. People will tolerate a toddler learning this concept but the older the child gets the less tolerated it is, start young!!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Wow! I love that your church has designed the service to have families together. Has it worked well and families seem to like it? Love hearing about a church that doesn’t separate families!!! Exactly, we send them off and let them have fun and be baby-sat and hear a Bible Story for years and then all of a sudden we expect them to move into the sanctuary and fit in and understand what is going on. Ha ha, you are right! People have a lot more sympathy towards my 2 1/2 year old making noise than they would if she were a lot older. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  5. Meg

    We’re Catholic, and our church doesn’t have separate services — it’s everyone at the same Mass. Some older churches have a children’s room (“cry room”) but we try to avoid it because it’s often crazy — and overcrowded, which just makes rammy children even more wound. We’ve had our share of singing out (and ducking out!).

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Thanks for stopping by! I’ve never been in a cry room before and have often wondered how/if they work. Glad you as well have had to quickly escape when I child got too loud. Makes me feel better. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Carolyn

    We have been going to a “family integrated” church for 4 years now (actually 3 separate ones since our first church disbanded, and then we moved last year across country) when we first started looking into how to keep our children with us in church is was because my youngest at the time who was two would pass out when he got upset and it wasn’t safe to leave him with strangers (if they didn’t notice him getting upset in time he would fall over and hit his head). Now I have 4 children almost 8, 6, 3, and almost 1 who all sit through the service every Sunday. It was difficult at first but a few things I learned for us. 1.) Toys don’t work for us, they get dropped into the next aisle, kids get loud when they play and often argue over whose turn it is with said toy. As much as it was hard to wrap my brain around at first, they really do better with either nothing in front of them or just a Bible and a notebook. I kept reminding myself that kids 100 years ago were all required to not only sit through the service quietly but sit for a good portion of Sundays and not play, so they must be capable of doing it! =) 2.) Putting the baby in a baby carrier and standing and swaying to the side of the aisle or in the back of the church is the most effective way I have found to keep an infant quiet (that and nursing- which I do often, quietly under a cover) 3.)teaching your kids to sit quietly through the service can not be taught AT church. It needs to be taught at home during family devotion time when you can interrupt easily and correct wrong behavior. =) We do a lot of wiggling in the pew, but they all sit very well through the service now! It’s very do-able!

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Thanks for reading and sharing your advice! You are right, I actually don’t like my daughter bringing a lot of “stuff” with – it seems to cause more problems and noise (and that’s without a sibling old enough to fight with). Some of her best Sundays have been just with her Bible. I’m going to be more purposeful with what we bring (or leave home) from now on thanks to your thoughts. So true that kids have been sitting during church for centuries. Wearing the baby is amazing – I do like sitting in the back or toward the side so I can easily stand up and sway the little guy to sleep. Very good point – I can’t expect my kids to sit for church if they never learn it the other 6 days a week. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom! I’m taking away some ideas from it.

      Reply
  7. Natalie

    We recently moved overseas, and the first 2 places we visited didn’t have a nursery (which we/our kids were used to), so I ended up in the “cry room” pretty much the whole time with a hungry baby and a fidgety 2 yr old. My almost 4 yr old is starting to learn to sit still and doodle, on her own. We also promise her a small treat afterwards if she behaves. We settled on attending a very small service which basically has a 1=1 ratio of kids and grandmas, so there’s more “help” with getting our kids to cooperate, but it’s also friendly enough that no one is offended when the kids walk up and interrupt the message.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      That would be tough and quite the learning curve for the kids. Yeah, I like being able to reason with my daughter. I’ve promised her a chocolate or something before for sitting still. Sometimes it works other times it still didn’t. 🙂 Small service would make it so much easier – so glad you found a place with people willing to help and that they love your kids even when they aren’t quiet.

      Reply
  8. Kyle @ Aspired Living

    You are preaching to choir here…our family is part of a Family Integrated Church Start with Grace Family Baptist Church (this is the church Voddie Baucham is an an elder at) in our community. For several years prior to joining this church start we began bring our kids into worship with us. It has been a blessing to see thier knowledge of the Bible and the things of God! Thanks for encouraging other to take the path less traveled.
    May the Lord Bless you and Turn His face toward you!
    Kyle

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      How neat that you are a part of a church that is family integrated! I wish all churches, even those with kids programs, were supportive of those with children in the service. Thanks for your kind comment. Have a great day!

      Reply
  9. Jessica

    As a pastor’s wife and a mom of a three year old, thank you for your article. One other thing I have noticed and encourage is to sit in the front of the church. I know very well the back seems more convenient for a quick getaway, but children seem to do better in the front where there can see everything. In the back all they see is the back of people’s heads.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Thank you so much for commenting! What a great tip. You are right, I do try to sit in the back so I can escape but I can see how it might be smart for me to move further up to help my (almost 3 year old) daughter’s focus. I think she’d be better. The only stinky thing is that little brother (8 months) is starting to get more vocal and like to baby talk and moan and groan. I should just try it anyway! Have a great weekend!

      Reply
  10. Amy

    I am so glad I found your blog. I agree with your thoughts and ideas. I too have a 3 year old and 7 month old and keep both in the service. We are trying to find a home church and every church we visit stresses the use of the nursery. Some even put a comment in the bulletin about not disturbing the service by putting your children in the nursery. I was even given a tour of a nursery and the “guide” was trying to talk my 3 year old in to staying. It is nice to know that you, and others that have commented on your blog, have churches that welcome children in service. I am not even sure when the switch came that children don’t belong in the service. When I was growing up I stayed in the service and so did my husband.

    Reply
    1. Deanna Michaels Post author

      Amy, thank you so much for commenting! I’m so glad you happened across this post too and found others that think similarly. That might be one of my favorite things about blogging – even when you feel alone in your opinions and way of doing things in normal life you find other from across the world that think similarly and it’s really encouraging. Our kids are almost exactly the same age – my daughter turned 3 last week and our son is 8 1/2 months. 🙂 I hope that you find a church that is welcoming of keeping your children with you and don’t look down it it even if they have children programs as an option. That’s so sad some of the churches have that in the bulletin and I would be so frustrated at someone trying to talk my kids into staying in the nursery. Talk about making it even harder. Hang in there! Hope this morning went well for you.

      Reply
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