I have this precious, lovable, teachable 5-year-old.
He loves outer space.
He loves bad weather.
He loves to draw.
He loves the great hero stories of the Bible.
But he does not like going to church.
Every Sunday it’s the same old song. Actually, let’s back up a bit. Every Saturday it’s the same old song.
“Mommy, is tomorrow Sunday?”
“Nooooooo!” *face starts to resemble the sad Mardi Gras mask*
“I don’t waaaaant to go to church tomorrow!”
“It takes forever! And I have to wear clothes and shoes! And I starve!”
That was just the warm-up. On Sunday there is an even deeper frown, even more dramatically-prolonged syllables, and even more reasons why church is the worst.
“Mommy, please stay home with me! Don’t make me gooooo! The nursery ladies don’t like kids!” (Not true about our church at all, by the way.)
It goes on all morning. Fortunately, he shies away from making a scene in public, so at church he actually appears somewhat normal…except for the bucket loads of dried tear-salt crusted all over his face.
Am I the only one??
My child, who loves and embraces the teachings of King Jesus and – as far as I can tell – is on a journey to having a saving relationship with Him goes total dissenter on me every Sunday morning. It’s heartbreaking! And worrisome! Is my precious boy going to grow up with disdain in his heart for God’s church and eventually become the lawyer that takes down Hobby Lobby? Where did we go wrong?? Why would a beloved son of a Christian family dread going to church on Sunday??
(That was a small glimpse into my weekly freak out.)
Obviously, there are so many wrong ways to handle this…I know, because I’ve tried every wrong way. I’ve taken it personally and gotten emotional, I’ve gone all theological on him, I’ve bribed him with junk food, I’ve ignored him, and I’ve used the incredibly unhelpful line “we are a family that goes to church and that’s that!”
But lately, as I’ve watched him moan and groan about how sad church makes him, my heart has begun to soften. And a little lightbulb has flickered on in my head with the most basic of thoughts…a thought that has caused to me totally shift gears with how I’m dealing with this issue:
He. Is. Five.
My little boy is just that…a little boy. There is no deep reasoning or theological basis behind his reluctance to go to church. It mostly has to do with him not wanting to wear shoes or be separated from his mommy. It in no way is an indicator as to Who he will worship one day.
This mommy needs to settle down now and get on her little boy’s level.
Once my heart was in a more teachable, less freakout-able place, God supplied me with a fun and applicable idea for getting my boy’s focus a little less on himself and a little more on good truth. This idea is what I want to share with you.
Sunday Morning Seeds
I don’t think that the real need here is for my son to have a deep, theological understanding of the Church. Rather, I believe that the best thing for him right now is to have a better understanding of the absolute truth behind God’s promises. In other words, the simple, 5-year-old-appropriate truth that I desperately want my son to know and believe is this: If God says it, then we can believe it! No matter what!
In this case, the promise that we are going to focus on is that going to Church – where God and His people are – is a place of great joy. There is great blessing that comes from going to church! It is not a chore or a curse…it is a privilege and source of great encouragement! God says it…so we can believe it!
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a
doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – Psalm 84:10
This little season that my son is in is about him trusting and believing in the promises of God…it is about him learning to battle bad thinking and strengthen good thinking.
So…the activity. I began to explain to my son that every single thought that pops into his head is like a seed. “If you water the seed, then it will grow and develop. But if you don’t water the seed, it will never sprout…it will die. Believing the promises of God is like watering a good seed! It is making truth grow strong in your mind and heart. But you can water bad seeds, too. Every time you complain about church and tell others how terrible it is, you are watering seeds of untrue things and it grows stronger. God’s Word PROMISES that great joy comes from going to church…we must water that seed!”
“Every Sunday morning we are going to water some real seeds that will turn into strong and beautiful sunflowers. These seeds will be the good seeds of truth from God’s Word. These are the seeds that we want to grow strong! After we water the good seeds, then we are going to throw out bad seeds. These are the yucky yellow squash seeds that we don’t want to grow. These are the seeds of untrue things, things that we don’t want to grow strong in our hearts. So we are going to throw them on rocky ground where they can’t grow and we are going to crush them with a hammer!”
It’s nothing fancy, but it has helped my precious boy battle a complaining spirit on Sunday morning. Watering the sunflower seeds and crushing the squash seeds has been a tangible lesson that he truly “gets!”
In the meantime, as I am walking through this season alongside my son, I must stay committed to the true “work” of motherhood: fervent prayer for my children.
Related posts that you might enjoy:
- So That My Children Won’t Despair Of Scripture
- Love To Like Them
- 10 Sweet & Simple Ways To Make Your Kid Feel Special
Photo credits: here