First of all, I'm thankful that my church (www.calvaryrosenberg.org) is filled with real people who accept me as I am, faults and all, and even on the days when I don't feel like putting on make up. If your church makes you feel like you need to be someone other than who you are in order to "fit in," then you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with your church; HOWEVER, I would bet that 9/10 times, the pressure to be perfect comes from within and not from our church.
Nonetheless, here are some practical tips that our family has decided to "implement" in order to eliminate as many excuses for not going to church and as many potential Sunday morning problems as possible.
- Set Sunday morning worship apart as a priority. In order for you to "go the extra mile" in order to make sure that you make it to church on Sunday morning, you've got to determine ahead of time that it IS a family priority. Decide as a family that with the exception of some major illness or family emergency or the occasional family vacation, that you WILL make worshiping together as a family the most important event on your family's weekly calendar. I've seen families go to great lengths to protect a baseball game, hunting trip, or family member's birthday party. Are we willing to go to the same lengths or beyond to protect our plans for Sunday morning?
- Take it easy on Saturday evening. Give yourself a family "curfew" so that you can be home to get stuff taken care of for the next day. Don't be legalistic about this and turn down every single social event on a Saturday, but if you know that your kids need to be in bed by 9:00 p.m. in order to be well-rested and manageable in the morning, don't drag them to some social event that begins at 8:00 p.m. and ends at 11:00 p.m. and expect them to be willing to get up in time in the morning. If you must attend something in the evening (it happens!), get a baby-sitter so that at least the kids will get to bed on time OR just bite the bullet, get up and make it to church, and then reserve your Sunday afternoon for family nap time.
- Determine ahead of time (this is a hard commitment!) that one person being sick and staying home from church does not require the ENTIRE family to stay home from church. Obviously if one of your children is sick, a parent is required to stay home and take care of them. However, I've seen this situation cause an entire family to miss out on worshiping together. Send the other kids with the other parent to church.
- Set out clothes for the entire family the night before. Every Saturday night during bath time, while Stephen is taking care of the kids, I go into each of their closets and pull out what they're going to wear the next morning to church. This means the entire outfit, including shoes, socks, hairbows, rubberbands, etc. I KNOW that it seems extreme, but we have had too many chaotic Sunday mornings complete with bad attitudes and angry parents, and have finally learned our lesson.
- Get all your "stuff" together the night before! For us, "stuff" includes getting the diapers bags ready and getting our Bibles in a common place (right by the diaper bags) so that we don't have to worry about that on Sunday morning too.
- Have convenient things available for breakfast. Not only do you want to get there, but you also want to avoid being late as much as possible. So have something easy to eat with minimal preparation available. For us this usually means that I make some muffins the night before.
- Don't just attend your church's corporate (large group) worship service. Get involved in whatever your church offers as a small group (like Sunday School). There is much more accountability in smaller numbers, and you will grow and make more friends and meaningful relationships in that area. PLUS, (and I don't recommend doing this every week unless you're made of money), you can make plans ahead of time to eat lunch together after church with a family or a handful of families. Then you HAVE to make it church because no one wants to be stood up on a lunch date! :)
On that note, I'll see you Sunday!
P.S. I intend for this blog to cover a lot of our family happenings also, but I can't figure out how to upload the pictures from our new camera onto this dern computer, so I'm working on that. Pictures of my kids are a lot cuter than anything that I have to say!