Book Review: Parenting in the Pew
Parenting in the Pews: Guiding your Children into the Joy of Worship Author: Robbie Castleman Pg # 125
What should we do with all the children?
Every church has to ask this question. Do we make a separate program that will meet all of their little (grimy and sticky) needs? Or do we ALLOW them to sit in the "adult service", at the risk of interruption? We believe that they are a gift, but don't parents need time to themselves? Don't they need an opportunity to give their undivided attention to the their own faith?
What if undivided attention was not a calling in the parental season of life? What if truly worshiping God involved leading their children to worship Him too?
In Robbie Castleman's book, Parenting in the Pews, she sets out to help parents (and church leaders) get over the fear of interruption and make peace with the stages of parenting that, though keep us from full attention in service, give us beautiful spiritual influence in the lives of our children.
"Worship is the rightest of reasons"
This book begins with a search for reasons. What is the reason that you go to church? What is the reason that you sit in service each and every Sunday? What is the reason that children are generally given their own program? What is the reason that she is asking us to consider keeping them in the main service?
There are many answers to each of these questions, but the one that stands out as the "rightest" is "worship". Why do we gather every Sunday morning? To worship God. If this is the purpose for our gathering then all of the things we do as a family on Sunday morning should be governed by worship. Does a child learn to worship better in a bible study with their peers, or in service with their parents?
Robbie's answer to this questions comes down to parental responsibility to train. She writes
"Parents teach their children how to make beds, hit baseballs, figure fractions and shop wisely. There are shelves of books, columns of advice and lots of good reasons for developing those skills...Parenting in the Pew is written to help parents train children in the only “proper behavior” for church: worship!"
You can Parent in the Pew
With the ultimate responsibility of parents firmly established, the author turns her attention to why and how to disciple in the midst of a worship service.
She begins with a some history, reminding the reader that "age appropriate" options for children are relatively new to the church, and their used to be an expectation that families would be in church together....which is helpful, because it is a reminder that Kids can learn to listen and even be blessed in the worship service.
Some of the practical thoughts in the book include:
preparing for worship starts the night before
lose the need to be perfect
find ways to help your children connect to the message
whispering questions to your children helps them process.
These practical actions and more found in this book, can help you turn Sunday morning into an opportunity to train little worshipers.
"Parenting in the pew can be a hot battle or a holy triumph of grace. It can consist of whispered commands: “Be quiet,” “Shhhhh,” “Sit still,” or it can contain the most intimate moments of life with God’s family together in his presence. Sunday morning with children in the pew can be the longest hour of the week, or it can provide the very best preparation for eternal joy."