Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gaming Devices in Church?

A friend of mine on Facebook recently asked this question: 

"Should it be acceptable for children to play their gameboys during any part of a church service?"

Here are my thoughts.  

I think there is a deeper question here. How do we teach our children to engage in corporate worship?  

I've been unofficially diagnosed as ADD. I can tell you that I struggled for years in a liturgical church service. Even as an adult, sitting still listening and even taking notes is difficult for me. My body needs to be doing something in order for my mind to be quiet and listen.  

This begs the question, how well do you know your child? Are they the type who can sit quietly and listen to something they are really interested in or are they the type that wiggle even when watching their favorite TV programs?  

If they need to be moving to stay focused, how can we constructively enable them to do what they need to do? Should we passively teach them that God made them wrong by enforcing behavior that fits into a compliance mold?

How can the church encourage its people to be what God created them to be without disrupting others' worship experience?

Here are some suggestions... if your child is old enough to be rational, discuss with them why they want to bring their gaming device. Explain that you want them to engage in what's going on. If you know they are capable of absorbing information by sitting still and listening, then that should definitely be encouraged. If they have a hard time, determine a compromise. This compromise should be something mindless and repetitive they can do while listening. Above all, don't expect more of your child than yourself. Our children notice when we whisper during church. They notice when we doodle or fidget. It's provoking them to anger to expect them to be better behaved than we are.

Here are some examples of what to do to resolve the issue. They are not meant to be taken as black and white, right and wrong, simply some things to consider.  

There is a lady at my church who approached the pastor thus. She wanted to crochet during the service. Her craft is repetitive, often requiring hours of the same stitch again and again. She explained that she wasn't trying to be offensive, and honestly wanted to know if he minded. He said it didn't bother him, since he knew her heart.  

I've often taken simple knitting projects to church. I find that the repetition of the same stitch again and again quiets my mind enough to listen to the service. I try not to be showy about my work. I usually work on scarves that are not too large, use materials that aren't flashy, and sit in a location that is not distracting to others. 

One of my daughters draws during the service. I have talked to her about maintaining focus, and being sensitive to the speaker. She must stay quiet and she must not try to show off her work while the service is going on.  

My son, who is now 16 years old used to have a hard time sitting still and listening. Now he does fine. It took him a bit longer than a lot of other kids, but he learned and eventually settled down. He doesn't doodle or fidget. He does whisper the occasional comment to his friends about what the pastor said, but I know adults who carry on constant commentary to their neighbors through the entire service.

Our 4 year old usually has a children's program to go to during the service. We allow her to play games like Angry Birds or Bubble Shoot on a tablet when there isn't an alternative for her. She's at an age where she isn't going to understand most of what is going on, so we would rather encourage her to sit quietly, than to be bored out of her mind and start getting mischievous.  

So to answer the initial question: There is nothing in the Bible that says it's wrong to play games during the church service. In Hebrews 10 we read: 

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In light of this, I believe parents should guide their children to be engaged in the service. They should do this by getting to know them, the way God created them, and encourage them to engage within that nature. I believe "Gameboys" and other PGD's are too mentally engaging for the majority of children to use them during a service, however I think very young children should be allowed to use them to teach them to be still and quiet while others are trying to listen. However, they should be weaned off of them as soon as they are mature enough to engage more.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Counting Blessings

Some days it's harder to count my blessings.  Sometimes we, as mothers, are hit with a deluge of bad circumstances that threaten to drag us under.  Today has been one of those days, and it's not over yet.

I can feel in my gut that today is a test to see how I weather under abnormally adverse circumstances.  I am determined to pass that test the first time.

First, I prayed for God to guide my steps, and I've tried really hard to follow His leading.  I'm doing just that in writing this blog post even though I feel my skin crawl as I get more and more behind sitting here.

Second, I am going to write a list of things I'm thankful for thus far today.

1) I'm thankful that the head lice was only found on two of my children rather than on all four.
2) I'm thankful that one of them has very thick hair even though it's harder to apply the necessary medicated lotions, and even though her hair seems to be much more lice ridden.
3) I'm thankful that one of them has hair that is thinner, although it is more wavy and hard to maintain, because it's much easier to apply the necessary anti-lice products.
4) I'm thankful my children know how to do laundry, so I'm not the only one washing bed linens.
5) I'm thankful that I have a working washer and dryer as it makes washing linens so much easier.
6) I'm thankful that the children took the initiative to put bowls on the dining room table to catch the drips coming through the ceiling from their bathroom.
7) I'm thankful that I was able to easily diagnose what was causing the drips (a simple toilet overflow) and fix it without calling a repair man (yet).
8) I'm thankful that there were clean towels available to mop up the toilet water, and I'm thankful that my kids' bathroom floor is now much cleaner than it was.
9) I'm thankful that I was able to take a shower and eat food today even though it was much later than I would have preferred.
10) I'm thankful that I wasn't out of laundry detergent or shampoo, or floor cleaner or any other necessary items to clean up the sundry messes that were made today.
11) I'm thankful that laundry was relatively caught up, so I wasn't piling on even more work.
12) I'm thankful that I already had something on hand to give my homeschooling friend for dinner tonight.
13) I'm thankful that I don't have a broken hip like the homeschooling friend I'm feeding dinner to tonight.
14) I'm thankful that my tire was only low on air, and not flat when I got in the van to pick up lice medication.
15) I'm thankful for a music teacher who comes to my house to teach my children, even though today ended up being a not-so-great day for adding in three half-hour music lessons to the rest of the tumult.
16) I'm thankful for the finances to pay for mouth surgery, even though I would like to cancel that appointment for a second time right now.
17) I'm thankful that my hubby prays for me when I text him, and calls me to check up on things even if that phone call comes as I'm cleaning cat poop out of the tub so I can shampoo my daughters' hair.
18) I'm thankful for two cute kitties, even if they insist that the tub is a much more delightful place to poo than their litter pan.
19) I'm thankful for four capable children who had patience with me even though I yelled a bit this morning at how slow they were reacting.
20) I'm thankful for children who were very understanding when I explained that I was not upset with them, but at the circumstances of the day thus far.

I think that's good enough for now.  I admit some of this was typed with internal sarcasm, but I really am thankful for the many things God has done for me, even in light of all the yucky stuff I have to deal with now and then.

Now to get back to the general havoc of the day.