Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength. The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. Make sure your children learn them...
Having kids changes everything. One of the many things they change is how parents are able to do home church. It’s not easy to commit to an evening out because there are baths and story times, bedtimes and lost teddy bears, cups of water and inevitable trips to the potty, and, finally, one last hug and kiss! Even after the kids are asleep there’s the cleanup, the laundry, and the unwind. There’s not much time, and even less energy, available for home church.
Like many families, the only affordable option for bringing our children to home church was to have home church on the weekend. Believe me, the thought of using our precious weekend time for home church was not appealing to my wife or me. However, we knew from experience the benefits of home church and decided to prioritize investing into a meaningful church community over swimming lessons for the kids, or even the possibility of a day to sleep in.
Along with several other committed families we started exploring ways to do home church where we could have the regular, meaningful, spiritual discussions that come out of adult home church, while at the same time, caring for our children. We recognized that many parents sacrifice their spiritual needs for the sake of their children and that intelligent conversations are sometimes challenging to have with children around. One of our goals, then, was to have as many parents as possible participating in discussion time each week so that they could process Sunday’s teaching and continue to grow spiritually.
Our other priority was to include our kids in home church as much as possible. We wanted them to be involved in home church with us, not just come to home church with us. To do this we included them in our worship time: singing songs with them, telling them Bible stories, and praying with them.
We also wanted to get to know, and to be known, by each other’s kids. We purposely invested in them during worship time, snack time, and before and after home church each week. Our kids got a taste of ‘church’ and started friendships that will hopefully last a long time. Although we deliberately chose not to provide programming for them, they always had fun and they loved being there. [Most wouldn’t let their parents miss a week!] Although childcare was our biggest challenge, it was also one of the biggest blessings of our family friendly home church.
Our home church has experienced many changes in the four years it has been operating, but it has been able to address the needs of spiritually hungry parents, and provide Christian friends and role models for our children. In no way is it perfect, and changes will continue to happen and need to happen. I’m not sure we will ever have an ideal family friendly home church, nor do I think there will be one model of family friendly that works for all groups, but as we process through this together we are growing closer as a group and hopefully honouring God in the process.