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Thank You, Parents, for Your Sunday Faithfulness

Gathering with the church on Sunday morning is one of the most important things a Christian does. But if you’re a fellow parent of young children, it may also be one of the hardest things you do.

Consider the array of militant forces conspiring against you even making it to church. Who plans for his 3-year-old to wash her hair in yogurt two minutes before they’re supposed to leave the house? I’d like to see a seasoned military general try to handle that situation.

Then, when you finally get to the church parking lot, you must embark on the treacherous journey to the worship service. You’re like a freshly hatched sea turtle trying to reach the ocean before a seagull snatches it from above. Disaster can strike from anywhere and at any time.

Even after you’ve changed a dirty diaper on the floor of your van in 90-degree heat—and the other kids are taking off their shoes—the path to the worship service is fraught with peril: toddlers darting away from you with Olympic speed, the welcome team eyeing you with curiosity, kids devouring cookies in the foyer at an alarming rate.

Perspiring, eye twitching, hair disheveled, you also need to answer the peppy, well-dressed college student asking, “So, how are you?”

And finally, whether your kids have joined you for the service or they’re in children’s ministry, the call to worship isn’t a call to relax. Babies need to be fed. Crying kids need their dads to hold them. All the while, you’re trying to engage in the singing, participate in the prayers, listen to the sermon—and, before you know it, retrace your steps back home. Except this time, your kids have missed a nap and are hungry.

If this is your Sunday morning routine, I want to say, thank you. Thank you for your Sunday morning faithfulness. I know prioritizing the gathering can feel overwhelming and pointless, but here are three reasons I’m thankful you do.

You Serve Others

After a week at school, work, and living in a society pushing its way to the top, your fellow church members are tired of being impressive. The facade is exhausting. In the words of the psalmist, many feel like their bones are wasting away through their groaning all day long (Ps. 32:3). They want to be honest about their mess. But since they also want to look good—and they have the time and energy to do so—they’re stuck in a pattern of presenting themselves as put-together, impressive church members.

Enter frazzled parents of young kids. You can serve these members, and here’s how. When Christians are honest about their mess, others are more likely to share their mess as well.

When Christians are honest about their mess, others are more likely to share their mess as well.

So when talking to the stylish university student, capitalize on your disheveled hair. Tell her, “I’m actually pretty stressed this morning. Would you pray for me? And thanks for asking. How are you?” While her hair may be perfect, I’m certain something in her life looks like your disarranged hair. It could be her relationship with her boyfriend, a secret fight with anxiety, or questions about assurance. If you’ll share openly with her about your morning, you’re making it easier for her to share honestly about her life, and together—“weak and wounded, sick and sore”—you can approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).

You can also serve your kids. While Sunday morning can be challenging, it presents unique opportunities to love little ones made in God’s image. You’re helping them build the habit of gathering with Christ’s body. They get to see you love the Lord and his people. And you’re giving them yet another opportunity to hear about God’s love for them in the gospel. Yes, a Sunday without young kids may be easier, but when we consider the opportunities to serve them, Sundays with young kids are a blessing.

Others Serve You

Jesus has designed your local church—giving members specific gifts—to serve you in this parenting stage. Now, they may not always serve you the way you’d hope, and you may not make it easy for others to serve you. But if you desire optimal care, don’t miss the gathering (Heb. 10:25).

Jesus has supercharged the gathering to care for you in unparalleled ways. Whether it’s hearing a widower sing of God’s faithfulness, or accepting help to clean up the spilled Cheerios, or praying with someone after the service, members at the gathering serve you in ways others can’t (Eph. 4:7–16).

If your kids are with you in the service, don’t worry if they distract you a bit. Jesus planned that distraction to conform you to his image, and he’s not handicapped by an infant’s squawks or a diaper that needs changing (Rom. 8:28–29). Through his sovereign care, he can channel his love for you in the moments when you can pay attention. He’s infinitely skilled at using others to serve you.

Jesus Celebrates You

When Jesus sees your faithfulness on Sunday morning—which he does, every second of it—he’s pleased (Heb. 13:21). Don’t skip over that. Jesus celebrates your Sunday faithfulness, even though it’s imperfect.

Dads, while you’re struggling to sing because of the stressful morning, he sings over you (Zeph. 3:17). Moms, when you step out of the service to nurse your child, Jesus steps forward and rejoices over you “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride” (Isa. 62:5). He wants nations and every king to see the glory of his grace in you (v. 2). And they will.

Jesus celebrates your Sunday faithfulness, even though it’s imperfect.

One day, in the new heavens and new earth, Jesus will broadcast your little bit of faithfulness on Sunday mornings throughout the restored cosmos. “Because you have been faithful in a very little”—speaking with kindness on the way to church, picking up tired kids from the children’s ministry, coming to the gathering when it would’ve been easier to stay at home—“you shall have authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).

You won’t always be faithful. You’ll need to repent of impatience, anxiety, and irritation. But Jesus has paid the penalty for your Sunday unfaithfulness. And he will not forget your Sunday faithfulness. He’ll remember. He’ll remember everything. And his celebration over your faithfulness will surprise you throughout eternity.

So if you’re a parent of young children, don’t grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Keep going. Thank you for your faithfulness on Sunday mornings.

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