My One Word of focus for 2014 is Discipline. I’m focusing on growing in self-discipline in a number of areas of my life, and I hope it’s a journey that you will be encouraged by too.
One area where families often lack discipline is with going to church. Sunday morning can be such a challenge to anyone with kids, especially young kids like mine. It can feel like a juggling act to get everyone ready and out the door in time for church and Sunday school and still have a smile on your face.
It’s hard. So hard that many moms want to just throw in the towel.
In the month of February, we’re going to talk about Putting Sunday First.
We’ve talked about it on the MamaGab Facebook page and over and over again, moms are saying that they need some insight on Sundays. So I’ve put together several posts about why and how we can honor God with our church attendance, with a special emphasis on the practical. So just how do you juggle newborns and toddlers and preschoolers and arrive at church with clean faces and neat clothes? I can’t say that it always happens that way at my house–sometimes I discover sticky hands and faces in the parking lot of church, or their clothes are more rumpled than I’d like, but we’re there. We’ll talk about practical ways that we can make this happen.
We’re even going to have a twitter chat next Tuesday, February 11, at 9 pm CST. #mamadiscipline Follow me on twitter, search for the hashtag #mamadiscipline, and start chatting with us using that hashtag.
The goal is to brain storm ideas together about how to get out the door on time and have a better experience at church on Sunday mornings. I just know that many of you have some wisdom that you can share with us, and if you don’t, join the chat so that you can learn from other moms. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be sharing tips and learning at the same time. That’s usually how it works for me. And don’t worry, I’ll explain how the twitter chat works later!
My Sunday Mornings
Throughout our marriage, my husband has spent most Sunday mornings playing bass guitar or running sound for the worship service. When he does these things, he has to be at church at 8 and I get the kids ready by myself. Over the years, we’ve had new babies and new challenges to troubleshoot on Sunday mornings. It’s tough sometimes.
But you know what? It’s worth it.
God’s love for us does not depend on our church attendance. It comes from Christ’s death on the cross, which was the perfect payment for our sin. Once we accept that payment and begin our new life with Him, there is nothing we have to do to earn God’s love. So why bother with church, especially in the little years when it is so hard.
Because you’re missing out.
Growth happens when we hear the Word of God preached, when we are challenged to apply it, when we worship corporately with other believers, when we study the Word in Sunday school, and when we are forced to love and forgive other members of our church because they are our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The chance to serve
We can serve by making coffee, rocking babies, teaching second graders, or standing at a sign-up table. We spent the first several years of our marriage serving in our youth group, and I still believe that I grew way more than those teenagers did when I was working with them. I learned from the kids, from other volunteers, and from our youth pastor. Service grows us and is a great way to love the body of Christ.
Meeting needs within the body of Christ
How can we know about needs within the church body if we aren’t there? We can’t. Maybe you’ll find out that another family is going through chemo, a death in the family, or a new baby and needs a meal. Or someone needs a ride somewhere. Or someone is having financial difficulties. If you can’t meet their needs, you can always pray for them. God is an amazing provider and He often provides through the body of Christ.
Fellowship with other believers
I’ve seen fellowship, deep fellowship, happen when a woman ends up in tears in the women’s restroom or when a family shares a real and honest struggle during Sunday school. And fellowship happens when we connect and have meals together, or when we end up vomiting in the women’s restroom while two other ladies hold our hair back (Or maybe that’s just me–thank you morning sickness!). None of this can happen if we aren’t there.
Learning from other believers
I have spent 10 years of my life at the same church, and watching the other women do marriage and family has taught me so much about what it means to be a godly wife and mother. I cannot imagine where I would be in my walk with God without these women in my life. I need them.
Connecting with newcomers
When we are regulars at church, then we can recognize new faces and help them feel welcome. I usually like to invite a new family to whatever Sunday school class I belong to so that they can go deeper quickly within the body of Christ. But if I’ve been away from church with a new baby, then it’s hard to know who is new and I’m not able to greet and welcome the way I would like to.
The great thing is once you get in the habit of going to church regularly, like any habit, it ceases to be hard. You find ways to make it work. You learn how to juggle better. And the kids get used to it. Even on the days when it’s especially tough, it’s still a joy and it’s still always worth it.
Out of all the benefits of going to church, I never mentioned the benefits of having children who grow up in the church. Even at the ages of my children (5, 3, and 1), I see the benefits. My kids have already absorbed some basic Biblical truths that will form a foundation that will last a lifetime.
They also have these amazing relationships with other families at church, who are almost like surrogate grandparents because we have no grandparents nearby. As my kids grow up, the same women who are loving my kids in their pre-school classes will be able to speak wisdom and love into their lives, echoing the same things my husband and I are teaching the kids at home. It’s a beautiful thing, and I don’t want to miss out on it.