Before planting The Town Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, we attended a church in North Dakota that offered childcare up to (not through) age 2. At the time, we had a 1-year-old son, and I was pregnant with our second child. As the months ticked closer to Ezra’s second birthday, I had a sense of dread well up in me, wondering how I could parent a 2-year-old through a service while tending to a newborn.
While my husband, Vince, was somewhat available to help, Sunday was a work day for him, and I was often solo-parenting. As I looked around, I saw all these families with young children who seemed to sit like little angels through the service. I felt ill-equipped and less-than as I sat in the last row with my rambunctious toddler and prone-to-scream newborn.
I was embarrassed for having “that” kid who kept whisper-yelling through the service, loudly announced he’d pooped in his diaper, dropped his juice cup no fewer than 300 times, drove his matchbox car up front during the sermon, and did any other number of things I was sure would cost Vince his job, or at least cause the church to seriously wonder about our parenting chops. It was a humbling season.
If I’m being honest, it didn’t feel worth it.
As we enter a season where churches are returning to modified indoor services due to COVID-19, many church plants don’t have the resources or the space to offer childcare that meets health and safety standards. The thought running through every young momma’s mind is, But what about childcare?
I want to encourage everyone who’s finding this transition challenging. Moms and dads, make the effort to gather with your church family for worship, even though it’s a struggle with small children. It’s worth it.
Corporate Worship When It’s Inconvenient
For those of us who are used to childcare during worship services, the absence of it is a harsh reality. By the time the service is over, you’re exhausted from trying to keep the kids’ masks on their faces, to keep them in their seats and away from friends, and to keep the baby from crying.
If we only prioritize corporate worship when it’s convenient, our children will learn to do the same.
After loading up your precious cargo in the family vehicle you think, It would be a lot easier to just tune in online. If you stay home, there’s no more fear of distracting other church members, or fear of what people must be thinking of you as a parent based on your kids’ behavior. No more hassle.
But if we only prioritize corporate worship when it’s convenient, our children will learn to do the same. We’re training our children in their own worship of God by the way we worship during this really difficult season. We have a unique opportunity to teach our children about the importance of corporate worship. Let’s not waste it.
Corporate Worship in Every Season
One of the most helpful things an older woman told me as I began having kids was that everything is a season—whether good or bad—and that every stage with kids comes and goes. The difficulties of corporate worship without childcare are no different. It may feel unending, but it’s only a season.
A day is coming (much faster than you realize) when you’ll be able to sit in a church service, take notes, consider the words being preached, and fill your soul-cup as you enjoy worship without the distraction of kids crawling all over you. But in this season, it’s okay to lower the bar and worship how you can. Commit to making much of Jesus in the less-than-ideal circumstances of this time.
Corporate Worship Because Jesus Is Worth It
Christ has defeated our great foe. He’s secured our salvation through his life, death, and resurrection. We’re welcomed by the Father as beloved children and given an eternal inheritance. It’s our joy to gather and make a joyful noise, to which our little ones eagerly contribute. We come together to worship King Jesus like the great heavenly multitude that cries out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns!” (Rev. 19:6).
Bring the little children. Raise them up to be worshipers of Jesus.
You know those well-behaved children I saw in North Dakota? They weren’t always that way. I learned the reason they were able to sit through church services: their parents taught them. They came back week after week, and patiently and painstakingly trained their children.
Parents, it can be done. I learned with my five boys. It’s hard. It’s arduous. It’s tedious. And yes, it’s often distracting. But it can be done, and it’s worth it.
Don’t let the absence of the church nursery, and the added inconvenience of meeting during a pandemic, keep you from gathering safely with your church family to worship the Lord. Church services may not look and sound the way they used to, but that’s okay. There’s so much grace. Bring the little children. Raise them up to worship Jesus.
The Gospel Coalition