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January 21, 2004

Superfluparents in the Church

While this troublesome trend is apparent in the culture at large, it is even more disturbing when it makes headway in the Church. Superfluparents is how Joanne diagnoses the problem she sees in many churches, including her own.

The condition is characterized by a gradual decline in parental authority, a deterioration of the family unit as socialization vehicle, the slow give away of each aspect of the child's life to someone/someplace else. Advanced stages of the disease are shown by children who care more about peers than parents, parents whose "dealing with children" muscles have atrophied due to lack of use. . .

God has called us to worship corporately, as families. He has made our children part of His Covenant. Why does it seem the Church so often rushes to exclude them from worship, in the guise of "ministering" to these little ones?

Beal Heights PCA's Infants and Children and the Word of God offers a positive approach that helps families worship together, meets the needs and noises of little ones, and provides for guests.

And for the practical side of corporate worship with very small children, Jeri has some great ideas.

Update: Marsupial Mom adds to this discussion.


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Comments

I'm so glad you (and Joanne) are talking about this now. We have been visiting a church where children are allowed in service, but it's been tough for our girls. They are used to going to childen's church at our old church. The links you had were helpful.

Posted by: Missy at January 22, 2004 04:48 AM

To be honest, we take FULL advantage of the nursery when we are visiting churches. It's just too stressful for the kids (and me) when we are not in our church home.

One of the things that has helped our boys a lot is singing the same hymns and songs at home that we sing at church. I just love when they belt out "O Worship the KING!" in their little boy voices.

I also recommend the book "Parenting in the Pew." The author has a really positive attitude about helping children grow into participating during worship--and not just counting ceiling tiles, beams, windows. . . Things I definitely did when I was growing up!

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 23, 2004 06:21 PM

I visited a church with a cry room once. I was a new mom and hadn't quite got the hang of nursing in public yet. The small room with a huge window stuffed with cranky kids and their mothers was not very appleaing to me.

I really like the model my local church uses. There is a nursery for kids 0 to 2 open through-out the entire service. Most parents keep their little ones with them untill the sermon starts though. Kids 2 years old up to 5th or 6th grade depart for Sunday school just before communion and the sermon (once a month they get to stick around for the communion devotion which is often geared towards teaching them about its significance).

All of the kids get solid instruction from the Bible during Sunday school. I've taken my turn teaching (everyone is expected to help teach Sunday school) a few times and those kids didn't really need me to teach them anything, they knew it all already. Junior and senior high kids are expected to stay and listen to the sermon. They are also instructed in church history on Sunday afternoon.

The whole thing is designed so everyone can worship together and get sound biblical teaching. It's the best model that I've encounterd so far.

PS I love hearing my almost 3 year old singing or saying the Lord's Prayer after everyone else has finished saying it. No one seems to mind.

Posted by: Samantha at January 23, 2004 08:37 PM

Parenting in church is one of the most challenging tasks we have. As a pastor's wife with 4 children, 7 and under, I appreciate it when a nursery is available for the littlest
one(s). It is hard to "teach" more than one child at a time what they are supposed to do in worship when you are alone. I regularly recommend the "Parenting in the Pew" book that you mentioned, but I confess I haven't found it as easy to implement myself as the author did. All of that being said, slowly but surely, my children are getting the right concept about worship. I just need to remember that they are still kids and not set my expectations too high without setting them too low either. I guess balance is key.

Posted by: jennifer at January 23, 2004 09:57 PM

Jennifer,

IMO, children sitting in church with only one parent is completely different than with two! Especially when you have a nursling or squirmy toddler.

I desire to have children welcomed in worship--and engaged in worship. I desire to see families recognize that as a priority.

But you are right--it takes time, training, and being realistic about what is possible. *g*

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 23, 2004 11:19 PM

I grew up in a christian home and have been a christian most of my life but sometimes the qirks of American christian culture really puzzle me. How big of an issue is this? And how long has it been an issue? I read the "Superfluparents" post. I wouldn't want to be part of a local church that didn't take seriously its responsibility to help parents raise up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I'm not sure though that having a children's church signals such an attitude.

Posted by: Samantha at January 24, 2004 02:30 AM

Thanks for the link to my article on our church's cry-room. I think Kerry got us confused with Beale Street in Memphis when he put the title on the article. We're Beal Heights PCA.

Posted by: John Owen Butler at January 24, 2004 08:37 PM

Ack! You know what? I originally typed it Beal Avenue, then double checked the article and did it wrong again. One of the things I like about blogging? I can correct my typos and mistakes. Btw, thank you for linking to me. *grin*

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 25, 2004 11:34 PM

Yep. I'm all for realism. We used the nursery for all our kids (except the one who shrieked when taken there, who is now our social queen, go figure) when they were at what I call the "wiggle age" -- 6-18 months. At that point, the choice was take the child to the nursery, or have one parent miss 75% of worship every single week while pacing in the foyer or mother's room (our preferred term for "cry room" ;-). Well, okay, we had speakers in the back, but it's just not the same as actually being there -- which is why we don't normally use a radio broadcast as a substitute for church attendance. :-)

But having an arrangement for those times when children just will not be quiet and are not yet as receptive to training is a far cry from the "worship is no place for kids" attitude that is so sadly prevalent.

Posted by: pentamom at January 27, 2004 03:13 PM


 
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