When Going to Church with Kids Feels Pointless

Dear Mom with the Restless Little Ones in Church,

I see you.

I get it. I really do.

Going to church with kids – especially little ones – is not easy.

There are times when I honestly feel like going to church with kids is pointless. But here’s the grace filled reality that I cling to.

I am a mom who is sitting in the pews, just like you are, with a 5 year old, 3 year old and just turned 1 year old. This past Sunday was one of those Sundays that made me question my sanity.

My son fought me about getting dressed for church and complained the whole drive to church about why we have to go every single Sunday.

My newly potty trained daughter needed to use the bathroom right during one of my favorite hymns.

There was the constant prompting to my son to stand for prayers and liturgy.

There was the reminding to my 3 year old daughter to not take crayons from her brother.

And the baby? The baby is at the stage where she needs to nap (but won’t) because she doesn’t want to sleep when I am holding her. Even more challenging is when she just wants to use her new found voice to talk to everyone. Sigh.

I don’t recall the last sermon I heard in its entirety.

And honestly? Sometimes I am just counting the minutes, trying to keep the children quiet during that above mentioned sermon. Why do sermons ever go longer than 15 minutes anyway?

As exhausting as some Sunday mornings can be, we still go to church every Sunday.

I may wonder why we are there, but we go. And this is why.

The children are learning and the Holy Spirit is working – even though we can’t see either.

Young children are part of Christ’s Body by Holy Baptism. They are part of our church family.

Young children need to hear the liturgy and learn the hymns.

Young children can say the Lord’s Prayer and listen to the sermon.

No, it’s not easy. Yes, it takes practice and training. We wouldn’t expect children to read perfectly the first time they sit down in Kindergarten, would we?

Don’t wait to bring children to church until it’s “easier”. That day will never come. Now is the perfect age to be in church. Your children are never too young to be in church.

Yes, there are times when you won’t hear the sermon.

There are times when you will take your child out more than you are sitting in church. We walk a fine line because we don’t want our children disrupting others – and we are quick to take them out to sit with us in the narthex if they do – but we want them in church. My husband and I are so thankful for the encouragement of other parents and grandparents who sit in the pew around us and reassure us on the difficult Sundays that yes, this is important. My heart is always encouraged by their kind reminders that they were once in our shoes, and yes, we are teaching our children what they need to know.

Even still, there are times when you wonder why you are here but remember this.

Your children are learning that it is important to be in God’s house. 

They are learning to worship.

Being a confessional Lutheran, I am thankful for our faithful liturgy so I can participate in the service even when I am hushing a baby and redirecting children. I am thankful for hymns I know by heart so I can still sing even when I can’t hold the hymnal.

I often pray, “Lord, speak to my heart. Give me something from the sermon that I need to hear.” Sometimes, a key phrase is all I manage to take away from the sermon. But that is still something that I didn’t have before.

I am thankful that I can bring my children to the Lord’s Supper with me, so they can be reminded by the Pastor of their Baptism, as they watch their Dad and Mom receive Communion.

We are worshiping as a family. That is important. It is important to sit in the pews together.

We are striving to follow God’s commands to “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8) and “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

It’s not easy to bring our children to church but it is important. So, fellow parents, who are sitting with their own wiggly children. Don’t lose heart! Keep bringing your children to church.

Remember, the Holy Spirit is at work. Jesus died for the youngest of children and the oldest of parents, and God’s grace covers us all.

With Love and Encouragement,

Your Fellow Mom in the Church Pew

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  1. My sister told me that she’s been looking for a new church to attend with her family. She moved to another zone just a week ago, but she’s a bit worried about how other people will react to her children’s energy. Your experience and advice will surely encourage my sister to take her kids to God’s house.

  2. Thank you for this blog. Today was a day when I felt that going to church was pointless. I have two children under two one being a newborn and the journey to church was a nightmare and then both were playing up in church. I couldn’t cope and walked out of church with the kids to go home as I was sick of sitting in the baby room unable to hear anything that going on. I eventually came back but it is such a struggle, I’m also the pastors wife which makes it worse and before having kids I was very active in the church leading women’s meetings, worship leading and evangelising but since having kids I feel absolutely useless and church feels pointless because I can’t do what I used to do. I can’t even listen to a sermon!

    Not sure what to do, I feel so spiritually barren no matter how hard or what I try.

    If anyone sees this please pray for me. I need prayer.

    1. Oh, Chloe! Praying for you indeed. Some Sundays are harder than others, but remember that God is right there beside you on the hard Sundays as well as the easier ones. This is a season, and you are training your children. You are teaching them how important it is to be in God’s house on Sunday. Sometimes I have to remind myself to take it one Sunday at a time. It’s more challenging when you don’t have your husband to sit beside you, I know. But keep doing what you are doing. Praying for God’s grace and encouragement for you, this Sunday!

  3. It is so important to take children to church. I can remember sitting on a little chair listening to Mrs. Wilfong talk about Joseph and move him around on the green felt board. (Did I just date myself?) Yes many trips around the sun since those days. My three children were taken to church. They saw recognized others as their “church family”, they knew our pastor(s) and saw us pray together, worship together and take communion together. They are all grown now and have families of their own, but they still remember and are raising their children the same way. It is important for young family to make the great effort to take those babies church. We are all in the Body, and your church family is important. It really DOES take a village! Blessings!

  4. It is satan who whispers in your ear that it is a waste of time. JESUS wants you there. Most anything that is hard is worth it!

  5. It is important to remember that young children can give the gift of a smile and of their joy filled personalities to a fellow member who is feeling lonely, depressed, or missing someone today. We can never fully know or appreciate the impact a child can have on a person’s life. I remember how grateful people of a congregation we visited this summer were for the extra noise of children in the service, because that is not something they had in the makeup of their congregation. Children play an important part in the body of Christ just as we all do. Thank you to parents who are trying to train their children from an early age even when it is not easy.

    1. So true! We never know when the commotion and smiles of our kids are touching (in a good way) someone else’s heart in worship. Thank you for this reminder and encouragement!

  6. I love everything about this! Our kids are learning that church time is family time. Both with our earthly family and time with our Father in Heaven. We talk with God, pray to Him, sing for Him and learn about Him. And we do this in community with our church family, young and old.
    My lowest Sunday was the one when my then 4 month old spit up down the entire front of my dress as we walked up to communion. I felt gross and embarrassed. But then my pastor spoke words of blessing to my son. It helped me remember why we go through the struggle. Because God is good all the time. And all the time God is good. Even when it’s hard or feels pointless. His word never comes back to us (or our babies) empty (Is. 55:11).

    1. Yes! Well said, Leslie! Being in church with our little ones is not an easy task but it is such an important one. And thank you for the reminder that God’s word never comes back empty. That is a promise I cling to every week! A blessed and joyful Easter to you and your family!

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