The following post shares my adventures “parenting in the pew” for the month of October. My children (nicknamed Blueseed, 6, and Wooty, 3) and I attend the 9:30 am service together (along with a great babysitter) and then head to children’s religious education at 11:15 am. I am using the book, Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman as a resource.
Robbie Castleman says that worship in the dictionary comes after the words worn-out, worry, and worse. For parents who are parenting in the pew, just getting out the door with crying baby, energetic child, and sleepy teenager can be riddled with w-words on Sunday morning (maybe a few others as well?).
The key to moving from worry to worship, says Castleman, lies in another w-word: work. “The sanctuary,” she writes, “is often described as a place to ‘just relax and unwind,’ providing a once-a-week hour of reprieve from the demands of the world.” Unfortunately, it’s the wrong way to think about worship. Yes, worship offers us a different way of being in the world. But it’s not the spa. It still requires work.
Even though we often use the word worship as a noun, it is also a verb, and as such, it speaks of action. At the spa, you can turn off. At worship, you tune in. You find meaning. You develop compassion. You listen, sing, pray, hold hands. When you attend worship with children and youth, you are teaching them how to tune into meaning, compassion, community. And by making worship a regular part of your family’s life, you then make “tuning in” a way of life.
“[We] need to remember why all of this is worth doing,” says Castleman. And as such, make it special. If you groan about all it takes to get to church, your children will groan about going to church. Therefore, even if we are carrying anxiety about parenting in the pew, we need to set a tone of excitement. We get to go to church!
This inadvertently happened to me on Saturday afternoon. As my family and I were sitting at our kitchen table, I talked about attending “the service” the next day. Wooty turned to me, “Yes, on Sundays we go to the circus.” It was a moment of confusion that ended in laughter. I corrected the pronunciation, but now, for better or worse, circus has stuck.
On Sunday morning, standing at the door, Wooty yelled, “C’mon! Let’s go to the circus!” Although I am a little afraid of future ramifications, I must admit that I like it. I want my children to have the same excitement and anticipation for church as they do for the circus.