Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Continuing Journey of Teaching Kids to Sit Still
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church, St Louis, MO

Summary:
  • Teaching them to sit still at MEALS.
  • Teaching them to sit still during FAMILY WORSHIP.
  • Teaching them to sit still & with us during bible study & PRAYER MEETING.
  • Teaching them to sit still during CARE GROUPS.

I LOVE MY CHILDREN. And kids will be kids. They move. They make noises. They get restless. They want to run and they certainly have lots of energy — at least mine do! This isn’t bad nor do I want to squash these desires and shame them into guilt trips when they are excited and desirous to run and play. But there’s a right time for play. And there’s a right time to sit still.

And this is where my family seeks to be intentional and proactive in teaching our kids to sit still. We are not a perfect family — far from it. We don’t parent perfectly. We certainly don’t have perfect kids — nor do they have perfect parents! But we want to be intentional and thoughtful about training our kids (5 kids ages 3 through 9) to sit still and to pay attention especially when the Word of God is read, taught, sung, and preached.

1. Teach them to sit still at MEALS.
We want to teach our children to sit still when we gather for meals. As a family we have breakfasts and dinners together. Almost never am I gone for a breakfast or a dinner from my family. Lunches are when I seek to have discipleships and meet with folks in the church family and connect with visitors. But almost never do I miss a dinner. At the meal times, we are working (still in process!) on teaching the children to sit still, sit on their rear, stay in their seat (and not get up), until they’re finished and everyone is excused and then, only after they’ve said “thank you” to their mother, may they be excused and get up. This is not to be mean. But it’s to be intentional to teach them about conversations, sitting and listening to others respectfully, and even teaching them to sit still and quietly when conversations around them are going on.

2. Teach them to sit still during FAMILY WORSHIP.
Each evening for our family, when we are finished with dinner, we gather on the couch for family worship. This is very intentional for a number of reasons. We want to be obedient to God in teaching our children the Word of God and instructing them in theology, in biblical truths, in biblical worldview, and in godly living. We want to show them the glory of Christ and proclaim the gospel to them daily. During this time, we have family worship “rules.” We tell them to sit on their rears. They cannot speak out but must raise their hand if they have something to say. They cannot touch their neighbor (sibling) with any part of their body. They must stay in their seat. Again, this is deliberate teaching on our part so that our kids learn day after day, little by little, the importance of sitting still, focusing, paying attention, and honoring our God as we read His Word, sing together, and pray as a family during our daily family worship times.

3. Teaching them to sit still and with us during the MID-WEEK BIBLE STUDY.
We have not perfected this, and we’re still working at it diligently and proactively. But our church has a mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting. We spend about 30-40 minutes studying the Word and the rest of the time we engage in corporate prayer. It is a bit of a shorter sermon than the Sunday one so this provides an excellent occasion to practice with all our kids the discipline of sitting still when God’s people have gathered. During this time, we bring our children with us and they sit at a table with my wife and they are to pay attention to the Word preached. Family worship that night usually consists of me teaching my kids what I will preach that night during the Bible study and prayer meeting so they can listen for certain key words and concepts. We also will sing a song or two that we’ll sing that night at the service. All this is to help them learn to listen, focus, and take in God’s Word. We are far from perfect in implementing this perfectly. Nor does it work out nicely every week (I wish!). But it’s a process and we seek to be faithful to God in teaching our kids to sit and hear His Word preached.

4. Teaching them to sit still AT CARE GROUPS.
Our church has home groups. We call them CARE groups. Our family attends a CARE group that is close to our home. I don’t lead it. I have no leadership part to play at all in the CARE group that we attend. So this provides a great occasion for me to sit with my wife and with our five children and seek to help shepherd, teach, and model for them the importance of gathering with God’s people and the importance of sitting in a respectful way when God speaks to us through His Word. We also pray ahead of time for the CARE group leader and the man who will teach the Word. We pray for the other families in our CARE group. All of this is to teach our children deliberately the importance of meeting with God’s people.

All of these are ways that our family has tried to intentionally teach our children to sit still in corporate worship. They aren’t perfect. Some weeks are great. Some weeks look like a circus and feel like one too! But we trust that as we seek to carefully guide our children, regularly and consistently set before them opportunities to hear the Word, meet with God’s people, and see the saints worship Christ, our kids will hear the gospel and come to a saving knowledge of Christ through repentance and faith.

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