A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called “Get Me To The Church On Time…” and a quite few folk read it – like vast numbers!!! Obviously it isn’t an issue just for us! But after folk had spoken to me about it I realized I need to take a step back and say “Why bother to even get to the church on time.”
How often have you heard: “Well Sunday is our only day together as a family” or “Our child is so talented he has to do “Said Sport” on a Sunday or he won’t keep his place on the team” or “We are in the restaurant business and we have to work on Sundays”… it is no longer enough to say well it is a Biblical Commandment. The fourth commandment in fact, found in Exodus 20:8-11.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So how on earth do you get your kids to “Remember the Sabbath Day” when all about them the world seems to be at play. Here are Se7en things we have tried to install keeping the Sabbath for them:
- Make it a habit to attend church:
I am hoping that one way to get our kids to stick to the Sabbath day: to attend church and relax on a Sunday is to get the habit well and truly entrenched before they are old enough to question if they should be attending church or going out with friends. Our kids have all attended church from their first Sunday out in the world. We don’t wait until they are “old enough” they are part of God’s family and they should be attending church.
- See it as a privilege, not a duty:
This one is has been easy for us to instill in our kids so far, especially when you read Christian biographies and see how hard church attendance is for some persecuted christians around the world. And you can only imagine what it must have been like for pioneering missionaries in remote parts of the world – with no contact with other christians whatsoever for years on end, and the only contact was a couple of months worth of sea-voyage away. Our kids know that they are lucky to live in an environment where they can attend church on a Sunday.
- See it has an honor:
We have made attending church a “badge of honor” in our family. When you reach the mighty age of four you are allowed to sit in the sermon on a Sunday. Some have managed a bit before that – but lets just say: boys will be boys and ours are far from perfect!!! After asking and asking to attend the full service they achieve it and start working towards the next goal: attending the evening service, and for this they have to wait until they have started school for real (not just coloring books!) and they are beginning to read… it is a great motivator to get those reading lessons going – I don’t push but if you aren’t reading you aren’t ready to sit through two sermons a day and browse through your Bible when it is feels long. If you are too tired for school on the following Monday (any signs of crankiness are indicators here) then the project is put on hold until you can handle it better. It is really up to them and something they are dying to do – go out late after dark, sing their hearts out, hear a great sermon and then meet up with good friends for tea. Oh yes an honor indeed.
- Consider it to be fellowship not just another sermon:
We think that it is important that our kids feel part of the congregation. We encourage them to chat over tea afterwards and they don’t need much encouragement! It is important that they have friends there and see it as place to linger – not just to be waiting for the adults so they can get home. They all have their own circle of friends and they depend on that social contact and encouragement each week, as we all do – just to stay a bit sane! Hopefully they are offering some encouragement too and not just sapping the strength of those around them.
- Don’t plan too many other activities:
It is a day of rest and while it is nice to have friends round and linger over a late/long lunch, that isn’t very conducive to rest! The father person has always taken the Sabbath as a day of rest very seriously: he attends the morning service, gets home and sleeps until it is time for the evening service, when he dashes out again. I spent years inviting people round for Sunday lunch to try and break his sleep pattern (!), until it dawned on me that I was spending every Sunday doing an awful amount of cleaning, cooking, cleaning up some more and still fitting in attending church – not very conducive to rest!!! Now we very seldom invite friends round on a Sunday, we shifted it to an early Saturday evening and we are all better for it. Actually if God needed a day of rest after creating the world, then surely we, and yes I mean feeble us as well, need a day of rest to recover from our week of work.
- In sickness and in health:
It really helps to limit your excuses for not attending church: a late night and being tired, running late in the morning and an invitation to a fabulous event are not reasons to miss church. The only reason our kids ever miss church is if they are ill and truly under the weather, and even then we practically have to tie them down. There is one Sunday a year where the roads in Cape town are closed for a cycling race and we cannot get to church. This drives our kids bats and they spend days trying to figure out alternative routes: helicopter flights, camping in the church grounds – you name it they have thought of it! We “solved the problem” this year and downloaded audio sermons from church – massive sigh of relief on their part.
- See it as a chance to be salt and light:
Folk can be a bit wishy washy about this commandment and our non-Christian friends think we are quite mad not to take a couple of Sundays off a month, off from attending church that is, to just relax. Well there are only a couple of Sundays a month! It certainly sets us apart and has given us more than a few opportunities to share the gospel – no we can not attend a birthday party on a Sunday morning, we have to attend church – we get funny looks, “Who says you have too?” Well it is our choice and privilege as Christians to attend church on Sundays. It is not so much about being legalistic about what we may and may not do on a Sunday, but rather about giving a fraction of our time back to God by attending church and setting the day aside for him. Friends notice that it is important to us and generally respect it.
Of course none of this may work in the long run, but it works for us now. I will get back to you when we have se7en (eight) teenagers in the house and we have to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
Next Sunday I have some great Giveaways lined up for you, I will tell you all about them then. In the mean time have a good week!