Robbie(2002). Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy
of Worship (expanded edition). Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
offers a parenting course of a different kind. The book is on parenting
children who are toddlers, primaries and teens to worship. She regards
this calling as the “most important thing you [parents] can ever train
your child to do” is to “worship” because “worship is the only
thing we get to do forever” (p. 16).
children to worship is a relentless effort.
Readers who are parents and teachers of toddlers, primaries and
teens will not deny that “kids can be distracting, aggravating and
embarrassing” (p.15) in church pews! The author shares her diary of
negative experiences in church worship as a child in the first chapter.
She was guilty of “doodling in the bulletin, passing notes and
gossiping” to survive the worship hour.
Eventually the young teen earned a place in the dropout record of
the church attendance! Her analysis of the problem is worthy to note.
Parents often send their children to church without training them to
worship not realizing that there is a difference between “going to
church” and “going to worship.”
Children need to be taught on what it means to keep the sabbath and
keep it holy as “God had to train the nation of Israel” to worship Him
with a motivation to train her boys to know God and to love Him through
worshipping with her, the book is the outcome of Robbie’s parenting
experience in the pew. She is an author, assistant professor of biblical
studies at John Brown University and the national director for the
Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship with InterVarsity Christian
Fellowship. She is also a reputable consultant and seminar speaker in this
spiritual aspect of parenting that may be desperately needed in the church
today. Her beliefs that parents are the best people to train their
children to worship, and children as young as toddlers are capable of
acquiring the habit are defended in chapter 3,
olds, and some younger children, can be trained to participate in worship
that includes the creed, Scripture readings, music and offering. . . . By
about the fourth year of age, children can be in a service of worship for
the entire time (p.59).
to guide and skills to equip parents for leading their children to worship
are described in great details
with illustrations and examples. Preparation for Sunday Worship should
begin on Saturday night (chapter 4) and she strongly advocates parents
sitting with their children in the sanctuary including teens. Using
entertainment as standard of worship in the home and church is
unacceptable to her,
will not accelerate the spiritual growth of our children. . . . Worship
needs to be the one realm in our culture that refuses to accept the
world’s addiction to be entertained in order to learn. This does not
preclude creativity or change in worship, but it does mandate that worship
liturgies be designed for God’s pleasure and not our entertainment
is confident that young children and teens can stay attentive and remain
focused on worship during the reading of the Scripture, singing and
praying. Her secret is to train them to participate in these activities of
worship at a young age (chapters 5 to 8) and training them to master the
art of prayer to intercede and to listen to God through silence is not an
impossible task (chapter 7). Parents
who question the ability of younger children to comprehend sermons or
struggle with their teenage children’s pronouncement of sermon time as
boring will appreciate the author’s insights in chapter 8.
is refreshing to be reminded that a sacrament is “a visible sign of
invisible Grace” and the teaching of the sacraments of baptism and the
Lord’s Supper should be a part of worship
education according to Robbie. She believes in infant baptism but cautions
parents [and god-parents] to honour their vows to “train the child in
faith with utmost integrity” (p. 109).
Churches who allow children to participate in the Holy Communion
may question the author’s view. She does not encourage young children
and teens to participate, instead, to teach and prepare them for this
sacrament when the time is ripe. That is, when they are able to give
“their testimony of faith before the congregation” (p.113) because
“setting this table [the Holy Communion] for us cost God the life of his
only Son” (p.115). It is a sacrament not to be taken lightly.
with hyperactive children or attention deficit hyperactive disorder may
find her inputs and advice helpful (pp.133-135). The book may be written
specifically for parents but teachers and leaders of children’s ministry
can benefit from adapting the experiences of the author to teach children
to worship. For example, her discussion on children’s worship for seeker
book may disappoint parents who are looking for an instant recipe to
transform children into worshippers but the author has this to confess and
is much harder than I thought it would be. And parenting in the pew may be
the hardest parenting of all. I have failed more than I thought I ever
would. I have done some really stupid things as a mother, even at worship.
. . . But always I could go to Jesus (p.123).
who are relieved that the church has provided programmes for their
children’s spiritual education, Robbie has this to share,
in the pew is a response to Jesus’ admonition not to hinder our
children. (Mark 10:14). It is one way to take our children by the hand and
guide them to the embrace and blessing of the Saviour” (p.125).
is “entering the house of your heavenly Father and saying, “Daddy, I
would like you to meet my children” (p.21).
(Reviewed by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)
A BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO ...
Cheryl Chiang 27/10
Suelyn Chew 28/10
Matthias Chin 28/10
Philip Chua 30/10
Tracy Tang 30/10
Daniel Wong 31/10
Stephen Khong 31/10
Ms Serene Woon 1/11