You might want to sit down for this tip for worshiping with littles.
Sit in the front.
Yes, I’m serious! I know the natural place for any “good churchgoer” to sit is the very back pew, maybe even out into the narthex or entryway. But consider this.
Think of almost any other place you take your kids. Storytime at the library. A magic show or puppet show or an animal showing. Disney on Ice, a ballet, a sporting event. What’s your goal? Get good seats! You want them in the front row or as close as you can get. Why? So they don’t miss anything. So they can take it all in.
So why, in the church, do we have such a hard time sitting up front? Are we afraid of people staring at us? Scared to make eye contact with the pastor during the sermon? I’m not really sure.
But consider this from the perspective of a three foot tall two-year-old. It’s likely been awhile since you were three feet tall, so imagine you’re in the back row of your church on the floor on your knees. What do you see? What captures your attention? You probably can’t see too much over the top of the seat in front of you, and what you can see? Not something you want to look at off and on for an hour. Other things at your eye level might be pew Bibles and hymnals, scrap paper, pencils. From the back, it’s hard to see, or be involved, or get interested.
Up front it where the action is! Yes, action in worship. Sitting in front puts you closer to the most beautiful and interesting things in the church. From the front you can point out parts of the church, draw your kids’ attention to Pastor moving, see all the people who are involved in serving – pastor, ushers, musicians.
When we visit my parents’ church we all sit in the front row. When we’re all there we have four kids under 9 years old in the second pew from the front. Yes, we can be a little loud. No, sitting in the front won’t keep your littles from wiggling and moving and trying to escape the pew. But a few of my favorite worship moments with my daughter probably wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t sat in front. My dad, her grandpa, is the pastor at their church. At the end of the service he raises his hand over the congregation to give the final blessing. My daughter adores her grandpa and genuinely thought when he lifted his hand he was waving to her. She happily waved back at him.
Another time the woman extinguishing the altar candles caught her attention. Her eyes were glued on the movement and maybe trying to figure out where the little lights were going. After the last candle was put out my daughter, clearly impressed with this act of service, applauded the woman who put out the candles.
Jesus always had people incredibly physically close to him. Most people couldn’t enough of Him and His teaching. They would follow Him from town to town, sit on the ground and listen to Him intently for hours. I love the story of the parents bringing their kids to Jesus so He could bless them. Unfortunately, not everyone thought that was a good idea and tried to keep the kids (were they too distracting maybe?) away from Jesus. But, Jesus, their Savior who loved them so deeply, wouldn’t have that and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)
Now, I’m not saying that sitting in the front pew means you’re closer to God. But if it helps you or your kids learn something new about Jesus, or focus on Him a little easier, that’s a great thing. It can be scary to sit in front with all eyes on you and your squirmy little. It’s hard to try to ignore looks or not feel like you’re distracting an entire church of people from worship. But I would bet you there are two in your church who don’t think you’re a distraction, and in fact are so happy that you’re there with your kids – your pastor and God. Most pastors recognize that kids are signs of life and growth in their churches. And God – He created those precious wiggly little souls to be in relationship with Him. It’s a sure thing that He prefers you bring your kids to worship and have them be noisy in the front row than to stay home and miss out on all that the church community can offer. And, if you’re in a great church community, they won’t mind a little extra commotion in the front of the church, either.
And an added bonus, at church, those “good seats” are rarely taken!
See you in the front row!