Taking Babies and Toddlers to Church: Tips for Parents
By Mary C. Fairley
A cherished drawing is found in Dr. Eddie Davidson’s Bible. Brother Eddie is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Lucedale, located down in the southern half of Mississippi. The sketch depicts a young girl walking down the road with two adults, under the light of a crescent moon. The illustration was done by Brother Eddie’s granddaughter when she was in first grade. It was a reflection of a sermon he had preached.
According to Brother Eddie, we would be surprised at what a child hears.
His own first memories of church were of preschool Sunday class. He and his wife, Babs, remember the vivid pictures depicting Bible stories.
The “big” church experience begins at age four at First Baptist Church. What is the importance of having children incorporate worship? Why, for people of almost any faith tradition, is it considered so valuable?
“It teaches them to be still,” Brother Eddie advised. “It allows them to experience the enthusiasm and genuine faith of other people.”
In ministering, he uses a Powerpoint presentation and selects a picture to convey the theme of his message. He and Reverend Doug Hubbard, Minister of Music and Youth, also provide a children’s moment in the Sunday morning service. The children are prepared for the sermon, and the hearts of their parents are often stirred.
What can parents do at home to prepare a child for attending church? Brother Eddie says to talk to your child and explain why you’re attending. If there’s a sermon series involved, consider preparing ahead with your child by reading the passages from holy books together, ahead of time.
Amy Schultz, mother of five, created activity bags for children at First Baptist Church. Placed in the totes are: a small notebook, crayons, stickers and Bible activity books. For holidays, Amy adds themed books and pages.
Whitney Holland Cubbage, worship leader at Solid Rock Assembly of God in Lucedale, is the wife of Dewayne and mother to an adorable 18-month-old, Adalee. She is passionate about taking Adalee to church.
“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks,” she said, giving her best advice. “Children are children, and they are not always going to be quiet and still.”
She said she’s felt sometimes that Adalee was a distraction, or that she had no control of her child.
“The slightest sound or movement had me feeling like all eyes were on me, judging me, and annoyed at my child,” she explained. Then, one day she realized it just didn’t matter. To her, something else was far more important.
“I was setting an example,” she said. I was showing Adalee that church was a priority, and God comes first in our life.”
The couple wants church to be a place Adalee enjoys. There have been times Whitney has taken her daughter to the back, and missed the entire sermon.
“But the principle is still there,” she said. “The seed is planted, and that is what matters most to me.”
Her most important advice, however, is that parents just enjoy having the child at church.
“One day we will be watching young people with their children, and wishing we could go back in time,” she predicted.
A few tips from fellow parent who’s “been there, done that,” Whitney Holland Cubbage:
- Have snacks and drinks, as appropriate to the setting.
- Dress your child comfortably. Whitney says dressing youngsters formally results in more difficult diaper changes. An uncomfortable kid is a fussy kid.
- For babies, always have a warm blanket. Whitney kept Adalee’s blanket at church in their customary seat and used it every Sunday.
- Bring quiet toys and books.
Freelance writer Mary C. Fairley is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. Her Bible contains bookmarks and drawings made by her grandchildren. In addition to Parents & Kids-MS Delta, her work has been featured in DeSoto Exploing the South and Mississippi Magazine.