Monday, August 1, 2011

Listening to Missionaries

I've always wanted to be one of those families who brings their kids into the church service with them. I want my girls to sit still, paying attention to the preacher or speaker, maybe drawing a picture of what they are listening too. All followed of course, by insightful conversations in which we share truths that we learned. But the truth is, either I don't have the patience for teaching them to sit still for that long or I don't want to be distracted from my own listening and worshipping.

However, I really want my kids to have a heart for missions. And I do want them to get to the point where they can sit still in church and behave appropriately. This weekend, I found a way to work on both of these goals.

Our church sends many missions teams out each summer and when they come back, they share about their trip during a Sunday evening service. These meetings are more casual and laid back and Bruce and I figured it would be a good time for Charlotte (almost 4) to come and sit with us.

We took in some children's bulletins for her to color and doodle on, as well as a sheet or two of blank paper. She listened to the missionaries share some stories, tuning out when they got kind of long or meandering, and then coming back as the speaker changed. We watched a video of pictures showing what it was like in Guatemala and Brazil, pointing out her Missions Friends teachers or her babysitter as missionaries. In my mind, this helps her see that she knows lots of people who are missionaries and that missions is normal, not something just for extreme Christians.

At one point, we suggested she draw a picture of what she was hearing. Our friend Sean was sharing about building houses in Guatemala, so that is what she drew.

When we got home and while we were enjoying a pre-bedtime snack, I asked her to share 3 things she learned from the meeting. This is what she told me:

  1. You can make people feel better by giving them hugs (from Keilan, who worked with Zoe Church in San Paolo, Brazil during a Free Hugs event)
  2. Being a friend means sharing pictures you draw of people (after the meeting, she gave Sean the picture she drew of him building a house)
  3. Not all babies in the world have enough food to eat (the Guatemala team also worked in a malnutrition center sponsored by the FL Baptist Children's Homes).
Overall, despite the wiggles that seemed to be more prevalent in the second half, I was pretty proud of how Charlotte behaved. It really encouraged me to invite her to be more involved with "big church" now that she is getting more mature and better at obeying her parents. I'm glad I took a chance, stepped out of my box, and hope you will be encouraged to do something similar with your own preschooler (if you don't already).