Raising Real Men is a site of resources for parents. It is also a publishing company run by Hal and Melanie Young and named Great Waters Press. Hal and Melanie are the parents of 8 children and are actively involved in the homeschool community. They maintain a website with encouraging articles for parents and they also participate in speaking engagements around the country.
Children in Church is one of the newest published books from the Young’s publishing company. This book was written by Curt and Sandra Lovelace-missionaries in the Czech Republic and parents of 2 now-grown daughters. I had the chance to preview an advance review copy of their book.
The book can be purchased on the site for $12.00 and free shipping in the Continental US! You can purchase here.
You can also visit the Facebook page for Children in Church for more info.
A little background first:
I was very excited to preview this book because we do take our 3 oldest children into the main church service with us. We began bringing our children with us for a very unique reason. Our 3rd child (Bee), has life-threatening food allergies. As a baby she was so fussy I could not leave her in the nursery without being paged to come get her because of her crying. Once she was diagnosed with her allergies, we realized the nursery was not a safe place for her. Therefore, we began taking our kids into church with us. We met lots of opposition but we’ve also had some amazing support for our decision. We’ve also been greatly blessed by worshiping with our children. I didn’t know how much our decision would affect our family until we were past the point of no return. But as we all file into the church service, I’ve noticed an increasingly larger number of families who are choosing to stay together. I’ve also heard of many churches who are encouraging this practice or working toward becoming more family integrated or family focused. So, I just had to have more insight into the changes.
What is it all about?
This book is about worshiping together as a family-even with young children. The authors have attended churches across the nation and around the world as Curt is a pastor. They were saddened to see that in most services, children are dismissed to worship in a separate place while adults worshiped in the main sanctuary. Curt and Sandra were convicted to worship together as a family and they dug into the Scriptures together to discover what the Bible said about corporate worship. Through their prayerful study, they resolved to worship as a family, keeping their children with them during the service.
The book outlines the Scriptural basis for the Lovelace’s decision, containing multiple Scripture references. They point out many instances in Scripture when children were present when the Word of God was read or when religious festivals were held. Using these Scriptures, they gently make a case for the involvement and inclusion of children in worship settings.
The Lovelace’s believe that children belong in church, but that parents are given the role of training them to be active participants. The book aims to equip parents to be diligent in discipling their children and modeling the act of worship. The authors encourage parents to write down expectations and to keep them realistic, and then craft a plan to achieve those goals. The practice of worshiping together in the home during the week as a prelude to corporate worship is actively encouraged as a tool to train children how to respond to worship.
Training children to sit quietly and participate in a church service can be difficult and the authors acknowledge the obstacles and frustrations through helpful hints and personal stories. They include practical ideas for keeping your children in church-how to keep them occupied, how to train them to focus and listen, and how to handle situations in which they are disruptive. The Lovelace’s recommend a church bag filled with quiet toys for young children or notepads and pens for older children. They outline how they trained their children at different ages to slowly take simple notes, first through drawing pictures, then circling important words in the bulletin, and finally taking a simple outline of notes from the sermon.
The book ends with a note to parents about the role they play in their children’s Spiritual growth and development. The authors remind parents that they should model appropriate behavior and correct responses to Scripture. Parents are encouraged to fulfill their role as disciples of Christ through leading by example and then training their children to become obedient followers of Christ.
There is also an additional chapter written to leaders within the church, exhorting them to examine the issue but be gracious and accepting of children and parents who choose to worship together.
What didn’t I like?
There were a couple stories in the book that I wasn’t sure fit in well with the topic. The stories left me hanging a little, like I wasn’t quite sure where they were headed or the point they were trying to make. For example, one story mentions a very vocal little girl whose parents spent much of the service walking with her. When they finally got to the point of being able to sit together as a family they were very glad. The story mentions that the child was simply very observant. I wasn’t sure exactly how the authors went from a chatty toddler to a child who had matured and was very observant.
There are only a few stories that didn’t seem to flow well into the main topic, however. So that was a minor detail. I had to go back a couple times to reread the story once I knew where the authors were headed in the chapter.
What did I like?
I think my favorite thing about the book is the tone of the authors. They speak so gently yet with a bold, humility. They outline Scriptures and explain their beliefs in a way that is not condescending but is very encouraging and uplifting. After reading the book, I felt I had a much better understanding of their rationale but I did not feel as if they were “preaching” to me in any way.
The book is also full of practical suggestions. For our family, we already take our kids into church with us. So, I needed some helpful ideas for how to keep them quiet. But the book went much farther than that, it lists ways to train them to listen and participate. I enjoyed reading how the authors taught their children to take notes through pictures and simple words, building up to an outline.
I felt encouraged after reading this book. The authors speak to parents and outline their role as discipler and example to their children. I was convicted and motivated to show my children Christ through our worship time and to push them toward a deeper understanding of Scripture through each church service.
The book is also realistic in addressing times when worshiping together is difficult. It can be hard for a parent to focus and a child can disrupt the worship experience of others nearby. The book tactfully addresses these situations and offers encouragement and suggestions. The authors also present ways to talk with those who are opposed to children worshiping in the main sanctuary. We’ve encountered individuals who discouraged us from worshiping as a family and I was never sure how to respond. After reading the book, I feel comfortable responding with Scripture and with grace. I feel more confident in our decision and as a family, we’ve already begun to see the positive changes mentioned in the Lovelace’s book. While we arrived at our decision from another route, we’re glad God has pushed us onto this path and we now have a list of Scriptures to use as our encouragement.
What did I think overall?
I think the book is an encouraging, convicting, and enlightening read. I feel I understand how other families have arrived at the decision to worship together. I also feel the book put into words all the benefits and blessing we have seen through our family worship, even though I couldn’t quite express them. I came away with new insights and renewed motivation to continue worshiping with our children and training them to get the most out of the church experience.
The book would serve as an encouragement to families who have begun worshiping together, while at the same time, offering some practical tips. The book would also be beneficial for those who were wondering why some parents choose the difficult job of bringing their children into “big church” with them. I would also recommend this book to church leaders to help them understand the rationale of parents who choose this route.
See what other Crew members had to say about this book on the Crew blog!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.