SKIATOOK—When someone walks into the sanctuary at Skiatook, First, something new might catch their gaze. Toward the back of the room, five rocking chairs line the wall with a sign above them, designating the chairs for young families and their babies.
It was an idea from Sheree Jordan, director of childhood ministries, after “The year of the family,” emphasis at Skiatook, First in 2018.
Every month, Pastor Heath Tucker would focus messages on different aspects of family life, whether it be marriage or parenting. Tucker said this focus came after reading the book, “Why They Stay,” which focuses on reasons children who grew up going to church continue to go to church once they become adults.
“The reasons offered in the book were: first, if they grow up having a high view of Scripture. The second was an appropriate relationship with the senior pastor, and the third was seeing both parents, or at least one parent, serve at church,” Tucker said. “So we asked the question, ‘If we want parents in the church with their children and their new babies, what can we do?’”
Jordan said the church started a “Let’s sit together” campaign, using the phrase as a hashtag for social media. For children’s church, the last Sunday of each month, the children’s ministry began to slowly ease children into worship with their parents, encouraging families to sit together.
“With some families, we noticed the moms or dads standing up in the back of the church, swaying back and forth with their kids, as the babies got restless,” Jordan said. “We have a cry room, but people really want to be engaged in the worship service.
“So we thought ‘What if we put rockers back there, so they could be with their babies and rock them?’ They don’t have to leave or go in the hallway. It’s comforting for the kids and keeps the parents engaged.”
The first Sunday the rocking chairs were in the back of the sanctuary, mothers and their babies occupied them. Gospel Project toddler books were placed inside the pockets of the rockers. Parents can look at the books containing Gospel stories while they rock and comfort their child.
The church began passing out resources in their worship service on topics like “What is the appropriate amount of movement during church?”
“We don’t expect kids to come in and sit completely silent next to their parents in worship. There should be some moving around. We offer age-appropriate activity pages and sermon notes pages,” Jordan said. “We are trying to engage families and really begin to train families that you are your children’s primary faith leader. We want to partner with you and equip you on this journey.”
Tucker and his wife Randi have five children of their own, ages 10, eight, five, four and two. He said, “I can feel for parents with the concern of coming to church being too hard or difficult, and there’s a tendency to send the kids out when it’s like that. But I just want to say that—what they see their parents do, seeing their parents engage in worship and opening the Word—that’s what kids are going to remember and see as important.
“If my kids’ earliest memory is that their mom and dad love Jesus and worship Jesus and value His Word, I would say we are pretty successful as parents,” Tucker continued. “Titus talks about the responsibility that the old women and younger women have to each other, and the older men and younger men have to each other, so corporate worship is meant to be from the cradle to the grave.
“In Psalms 78:4 it says, ‘We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.’ That is our goal.”