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Parenting in the Pew

10 May 2018 16:07

Guiding your children into the joy of worship

Robbie Castleman

In one of Richmal Crompton’s delightful William stories we are introduced to the character of Mr. Benison, a middle-aged bachelor who has written extensively on child-training though with little experience of children himself. His theories are put to very swift flight after a hilarious (for the reader – not for Mr. Benison!) encounter in the Brown household with that awful boy William.

In contrast to Mr. Benison, Robbie Castleman is no mere theorist. She understands children (having had two of her own) and knows what it is to face the challenges of having them beside you in the pew on Sunday. As her husband was the pastor of the church she attended and unable to sit beside her she also knows what it is to face those challenges alone. From the time her boys were old enough to sit through a service her great concern was to train them in the worship of God. Parenting in the Pew is an account of her experiences and of the principles on which she sought to act.

She acknowledges that ‘children can infringe on our worship experience.’ ‘I know more than a few parents who have resented the distractions ushered into the pew by the presence of their children. Many just give up’ (p.24). With the Lord’s help she herself did not give up and by his blessing saw her boys enter with growing appreciation into the various parts of a worship service – singing, praying, following and later participating in responsive readings, listening to the sermons, and finally, when they were able to profess saving faith, participating in the Lord’s Supper.

One very helpful chapter is entitled Sunday morning starts Saturday night. ‘The devil in all of his evil power, wants to undo the worship we prepare for God. It is no surprise that Sunday morning can be a time of spiritual warfare’ (p.46). One way of preparing for that warfare, she suggests, is to use a Saturday evening to the best advantage – taking time to get as many things ready for the Sunday as possible, whether it be shoes, socks, clothes, offerings, or food.

There are useful chapters, too, on helping our children to sing, teaching them to pray, training them to listen to the sermons (with some challenging remarks for the pastors who preach them!), and preparing them for baptism and the Lord’s Supper. At the end of the book there are discussion questions and reflections for each of the ten chapters.

You will not endorse everything that you find in this book and will not wish to follow Robbie Castleman’s counsel in every respect. But overall it is sane, practical, realistic, and pervaded by a God-glorifying desire to see our children worshippers of God. Every parent facing the weekly challenge of ‘parenting in the pew’ will surely find it helpful.

David Campbell