Ever since Ana gave her life to Jesus last year, we’ve been trying to help walk with Him. Teaching her and helping her to build the discipline of reading her Bible and praying has been the biggest part of what we’ve been working towards, and it’s only been recently that we’ve seen how we’ve neglected teaching her how to learn in a worship setting. Sure, she’s been sitting with me in the service for a long while now, but if she’s just sitting and not actively listening and responding, it does little good. (And it sets the stage for her to become an adult who just sits there, blank-eyed and bored. I’d rather not see her get into that habit.)
So, we’ve been working on “actively listening” to Papi’s sermons and participating in worship. Because it’s involved a lot of whispering between Ana and me as she learns, I’ve had a lot of people ask what exactly the pastor’s wife is doing when she appears to totally be ignoring the sermon. Ha! I’ve been working super hard, y’all, and not just on Sunday mornings — that’s what I’ve been doing. And I’m going to share it with you here so that you might give me even better ideas to supplement what I’m already doing.
Ana has a church journal that we bring with us every week to church. Before Sunday morning, I write out a series of questions for her, starting with questions about Sunday school and what she learned. I never know what they’re teaching in the curriculum for the children, so I leave it pretty basic. Draw a picture of the story from Sunday school, write out your memory verse from Sunday school, tell me one great thing you learned in Sunday school, etc. Then, I include a couple of questions about the worship portion of the service. I ask her what her favorite song was, the name of one person she met during the meet-and-greet portion, etc. Really simple stuff.
Then, I get her ready to listen and respond to the sermon. Because our pastor uses expository preaching instead of topical preaching, I always know what portion of Scripture he’ll be preaching from and can write questions from that. And because I kinda sorta know our pastor (I do share a room with him, you know), I can usually get a sermon outline beforehand. I ask more specific questions, centering in on key points throughout the sermon so that she’ll stay engaged. She draws pictures of the Bible story, does fill-in-the-blank sections, listens for specific illustrations, and makes application at the end. What was the best thing Papi said during the sermon? What was your favorite verse from the sermon? How do you think the (insert person here) from today’s Bible story felt when they met Jesus? (We’re in the book of John.)
I follow it up with application questions. What did you learn about Jesus today? How can you show God you love Him this week? Name one thing you can pray about this week. Again, very simple stuff.
You would be amazed at how many more questions this whole process brings up. You would be amazed by how much this helps her to focus. You would be amazed by how much she’s grown in her understanding of the whole of Scripture and the body of Christ because of this.
So, when you see me whispering and, yes, sometimes laughing on the front row of the church on Sunday morning, know that I’m having the best time of anyone there, seeing spiritual fruit grow right in front of my very eyes as our seven year old grows in her faith. So very thankful for these days and the privilege of sitting alongside her!
Oh, and you can pray for me as well because Emma has picked up on all the fun that Ana’s been having and is now insistent that SHE wants her own church journal as well because she’s going to join us in big church…
Sunday mornings are about to get nuttier, y’all… and so much more fun!