As we considered moving back to my hometown of Hagerstown, MD, the question of where to go to church was heavy on our hearts. We had been attending Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for almost ten years, five of which were spent with children attending their awesome children's ministry. CCFL provides a class for every age group and it's broken down like school where you stay with your grade. The babies are broken down in 6 month segments until they reach 2 so the church is really geared to meeting each child at their level.
There is a Calvary Chapel in Hagerstown and we pondered over going there and continuing with the concept that children are placed with their peers while parents attend adult church. But the pull to return to the community that I grew up with, where everyone knows my name and family history was too much to ignore and we found ourselves back at the Church of God Universal.
It's challenging to attend church with 3 little ones under 5 but I think they can learn a few things from observing us as parents in church.
1. They watch me take notes just as I watched my mom take notes. Taking notes has come easily for me over the years. I can recall my first professional interview where the guy who eventually hired me looked at my notepad and said "wow those are really organized notes!". I take notes everywhere I go, in meetings, at conferences, etc. I find that my notes are typically more accurate and reliable than those I'm with. I attribute my ability to watching my mom take meticulous notes in church.
2. They learn how to be quiet for 2 hours. Children's church is typically boisterous and full of music and fun. In our church they must be quiet for 2 hours. Is this unreasonable? I don't think so, it builds character.
3. Socialization after church. In Florida, as soon as church ended we made a mad dash to the children's ministry to pick up our kids. There was no standing around and chatting with people next to us. We'd collect our kids and leave because by that point people were so dispersed there was no hope of connecting. In the Church of God, we find ourselves staying for 20 minutes and chatting with those around us and all the way to the parking lot. Our kids enjoy this too, they hug everyone who stops by and bask in the attention. We are providing them a community of people who will love them and value them.
4. Worship in reverence. Children's church is fun and bouncy verses an adult setting where the songs are more reverent. I think our children can learn about how to worship God in reverence when they sit with us every Sunday.
While I miss dropping my kids off and having 2 hours of free time, I'm also starting to value the time with them in church as they sit next to us and watch our actions.