Three Things Parents Should Avoid on Sundays

by Sally Matheny

Do your Sunday mornings roll in with waves of whines
and crashes of grumbles?
If you’re one of those parents who has it altogether on Sunday mornings, whose kids eagerly jump out of bed, and sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” all the way to church—this post is not for you.

However, if your Sunday mornings are like some of mine, rolling in with waves of whines and crashing with grumbles—read on, dear friend.    

Like grains of sand swirling about in the ocean, parents long for peace. But are we encouraging our families to settle for less than they should?

Here are three things parents should avoid, followed by some tips to help you get more out of your Sundays. 

Three Things to Avoid:

    1. Succumbing to the Halfway Mark

When it comes to attending church, many parents resolve to making a deal with their children. They promise they will not stay for the pastor’s message, if they’ll just attend the program for children.  Going halfway, for the sake of “peace”, may suppress a joy in full.

And we shouldn’t put the full blame on the children. Sometimes parents prefer settling for less. It gives us more time to do our own thing on Sunday, as well.

Helpful Tips:

Fully Commit: Emotionally, Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually

Model enthusiasm. If your own sincerity is lacking, you can still set an example of obedience.

An example,

        Child:   “I don’t want to go to church.”

Parent:“Yes, I know how you’re feeling. We stayed up a little too late last night when the cousins came over to play. We had fun, didn’t we?"

Child:   "Yes, but I’m too tired to go to church."

Parent:"I’m tired, too. I’m thankful God gave us that special time together with family last night, aren’t you? Now, let’s get ready, and go praise and worship Him! The more we move around, the better we’ll feel. If we’re still tired after church, we can take a nap, then."  

Physically prepare as much as possible the night before by laying out clothes and Bibles. Saturday night, throw an easy recipe together in the slow cooker. Dinner will be ready when you return home from church! Make sure everyone, including you, gets plenty of rest the night before. Make plans for an easy breakfast. Do whatever you can do to reduce Sunday morning stress. Your calm manner sets a tone for the rest of the family.

Mentally prepare during the week. If there is suggested reading for the next week’s worship time, take time to read it. Talk about it with your children. What questions do they have? Generate excitement about discovering those answers on Sunday. If certain questions go answered, then make time for further discussion at the dinner table.

Inviting someone to church may ignite
a fresh perspective for your child.

Spiritually prepare for worship by praying together. Pray for the children's teachers. Pray for the pastor and the people of the church. Ask for God's help with whatever makes attending church difficult for you.

Whom can your child think of to pray for that might not attend church? Consider inviting that person to your worship service. The invitation may ignite a fresh perspective for your child.

Also, singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” isn’t such a bad idea! Hymns, inspirational, and praise music circulating through the house tends to stir the soul as you prepare for church.

    2. Slipping with the Three “G’s”

I think we've all slipped into one of these at some point. If parents will refrain from the three G’s: gossip, grudges, and gadgets, it will enhance everyone's worship experience.

Helpful Tips:

Gossip. If we stop talking negatively about the people at church, and if we insist our children do likewise, we will see a difference. When someone acts differently than us, let’s model kindness, not malice.

Grudges. If someone disagrees with us or causes offense, let’s make it a matter of prayer. Let’s tell it to God, not our children. And if a discussion is necessary, then infuse it with the love and compassion of Christ. Commit to praying for those who are difficult and for God to help us, and our children practice patience, forgiveness, and kindness. 

Gadgets. As useful as they are in our daily lives, our technical devices may be a detriment on Sunday mornings. You may not agree, but I have two thoughts on this.

A) If we pull out our cell phones, tablets, etc. during our time of worship, it causes a distraction. Instantly, at least one head (probably a child’s) will turn to see what you’re doing. Some folks simply can’t resist checking messages, email, or even the time. What does this convey to our children? Do we value what is on our device more than what is taking place during our time of worship?

B) Some parents give electronic devices to children during the worship service. They may innocently think this is the perfect answer. We’re able to attend church and keep our children quietly entertained at the same time. I read somewhere that when we give a child an electronic device to play with at church, it is essentially saying to them,

“There is nothing taking place
during this worship service
that is relevant to you.”

I haven't given my children electronic devices, but I've been guilty of quieting them with other gadgets and toys. Perhaps consider either giving a child a Bible-based book or ask him to draw something he hears the pastor talking about, or something he sang about in one of the hymns.

Older children can learn how to take notes. Two, simple templates for beginners are My Worship Notes and Sermon Notes for Kids. And, they're free! I recently started using these with my son and he actually enjoys them. Not only do they assist with focusing his attention, but also they strengthen other skills such as writing, spelling, listening, and inferring.

    3. Substituting the Reason

Some parents cause confusion by substituting the reason for attending church in the first place. Our speech, our body language, and our behavior divulge much to our children.

We must check our intentions. Are we attending church because:

·         it’s a holiday
·         family members expect us to be there
·         it looks good on a resume
·         it may benefit us in court
·         there’s a special event
·         Grandma always serves a good meal afterwards
·         it’s something we’ve always done

Dear friend, if these are our reasons, we’re missing the full blessing of joy! In addition, we’re misleading our children about the true reasons we should meet with the church of believers.

Helpful Tips:

Pray and ask God to search our hearts and point out our errors. Ask His forgiveness and for Him to create in us clean and pure hearts.

Keep talking with the family about our ongoing, growing relationship with Christ, how He is working in our life, and about how Sunday is a special day. 

We set it apart for sinners, like me and you, to come and encourage one another, teach, and even admonish one another in love. We come together to worship the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Sabbath is a day of rest, but not to do things solely for ourselves. 

It’s a time to pray and praise God by using the spiritual gifts He has given us. We need to build one another up and help strengthen each other for the next week. Sometimes, we need to hear about the sin in our lives, so we can turn away from it, and live life to the fullest.

As Christian parents, let’s not allow our families to submit to something less. Swirling sand either settles in the dark, mushy depths of the ocean, or it is 
propelled to solid ground. It may seem more appealing to submerge into our own interests … until we hit a stagnant mire.

Yes, sometimes Sunday mornings can be stressful—so can life.  Will we teach our children to recede from the true message of hope and peace, or how to roll with it?

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