We have to travel a fair way to get to our church. There are nearer churches to our home, but we prefer a family-integrated church, and so we travel for it.
Our church is very small. There are not a lot of other families there, and my children comprise more than half of the entire child population. But the people who do attend are kind and genuine, the sermons are full of good teaching, and we are happy to have found a good church home.
We have made friends in particular with a lovely young mum with a newborn. She comes over and does art classes with my children every week! What a blessing to this craft-challenged homeschooler!
That said, some Sunday mornings it seems just too early to get everyone up for the long drive, and too late in the afternoon when we get home. Yesterday was one of those harder mornings.
But it is always worth it when we arrive… And this week even more so, We were astonished and delighted to see what seemed like swarms of giggling, laughing, children playing together in a common area before the service. My own four children had run ahead of me, and so they were part of the general sea of commotion. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I entered and saw the general atmosphere of happy children.
There was a new family at church! A homeschooling family with six children, ranging from toddler to young teenager.
This family has to travel to get to our church, too. I hope they don’t find it too far. I so much enjoyed having them there — not least for the good model of behaviour they provided for my children.
My children behave well in church for their respective ages: Encyclopedia (7) pays attention and follows along in his Bible; Safari (5) and Shiny (3) read their children’s Bibles and have to be reminded from time to time not to wiggle; And Busy (20 months) — well, Busy spends most of the service walking or being carried back and forth across the back of the room — she’s still too little to sit quietly in a seat during the whole sermon. Admittedly, it is a lot of work to train them to sit nicely and pay attention in church — but how wonderful to have that family seated in the row behind me, from littles like mine to quite big kids. I was so encouraged to see their model of exactly what I am trying to achieve. Their littles were well-behaved, and their older children were paying careful attention, following along, completely capable of benefiting from the sermon along with their parents. How wonderful to witness and what an encouragement to me in what I am trying to do with my children.
By the way, there are very few family-integrated churches in Canada. An American site provides a listing of 9 churches across Canada:
|Mountain View Christian Church||Hamilton, Ontario|
|Grace Covenant Church||Beeton, Ontario|
|Sovereign Grace Family Church||Belleville, Ontario|
|Hill Country Church||Cochrane, Alberta|
|Moosehorn Baptist Church||Moosehorn, Manitoba|
|Ottawa Valley Reformed Baptist||Kinburn, Ontario|
|Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church||Timberlea, Nova Scotia|
|Sovereign Grace OPC||Mississauga, Ontario|
|Family Builder Christian Church||Mississauga, Ontario|
I know there are more than these. I can think offhand of at least four more churches in Ontario alone (two in Alliston, one in Madoc, one in St. George), but as a rule, a family-integrated congregation is very difficult to find.
But so worth it. In the past, we’ve chosen to keep our family in the service, and we’ve experienced varying amounts of pressure to put the children in the child care ministries. It is really nice to be at a church which truly welcomes children as a part of the greater community.