Children in Church: nurturing hearts of worship, written by Curt and Sandra Lovelace and published by Hal and Melanie Young of RaisingRealMen.com, is a book that exceeded my expectations. It is well-written, easy to read, and packed with helpful tips on incorporating your children into the worship service.
When I first received the printed edition of this book for review, I was skeptical, but after I moved past the first couple of chapters, I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, I stayed up late to finish the book on the same day that I received it!
The first chapter begins with examples from Scripture where children are included in worship throughout the Old and New Testament. The following chapters share experiences the authors have had with their own children and with other families, reactions to their ideas from others, and then specific suggestions to successfully make the transition of bringing a child into the service.
The 160 page book was filled with anecdotes that I could relate to as well as suggested tips and activities that I immediately knew would appeal to my children. The gradual process of getting them more and more involved in the service seemed not only plausible but appealing.
I also appreciated repeated advice to discuss with your spouse and to make committed decisions about everything from what activities are permissible and what constitutes a distraction to what steps should be taken for discipline and when those steps would be necessary. The authors acknowledge that the decision to bring young children into a service is not always a popular decision and provide both advice and anecdotes of situations where the issue is debated.
Another aspect I loved were the many stories of how the author invited other young children to sit with her to help the parents train their young ones for the service. The stories showed a genuine love for children and a compassionate, non-judgemental spirit toward those parents who might be struggling with the process. In fact, this compassionate, gracious tone is throughout the book. I did not feel judged for having placed my children in nursery, and I did not feel guilty for having a less-than-angelic child disrupt a service.
Tips included practical suggestions for taking the stress out of Sunday morning preparation, preparing your heart (and your child’s heart) for the service, and age-appropriate activities for nursing babes to adolescents. Things like having a church bag with activities purchased and dedicated solely for the service, drawing along with your child during the service, and having beginning readers circle words they could read in the bulletin were a few of my favorite suggestions.
I have loved using many of these ideas with my two oldest children who sit with us during the evening services in our church. The first night I tried these ideas, my husband was preaching, which meant I had my five year old and my four year old in the service with me ALL BY MYSELF. I tried the suggestion of drawing with my children to help them connect with the message. It went so well that I afterwards told my husband I really felt that I got to worship with my children rather than merely try to control behavior so that I could worship.
The authors, Chris and Sandra Lovelace, were discipled by Francis and Edith Schaeffer and served on staff at L’Abri in Switzerland. They’ve served as missionaries in the Cayman Islands, worked in a small rural church in Maine, and led homeschool conferences in Bosnia. They currently minister as directors of Lifework Forum, a ministry that reaches out to international homeschoolers. Curt and Sandra now live in Prague where they can more effectively encourage homeschoolers in both Europe and Africa. As parents of two daughters and with over three decades of ministry experience, the couple is well-qualified to instruct parents of young children on this topic.
Overall, I loved Children in Church and would highly recommend the book to others. The book is available for $12 a copy, or purchase in bulk, 10 or more copies for $6.50. Find out more about the Lovelaces and Children in Church or visit their Facebook page. Then, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew and read what others thought about this book or the historical fiction book A Cry from Egypt also available from RaisingRealMen.com.