More Regarding Children in "Meetings"

12/29/1999

When the entire church is together... we are in some larger place since we would not come close to fitting in any one home. We have several places we can rent on one or two days’ notice that are large enough for us. The majority of the time all the children are just with us, intermingled. Really, there aren’t any particular disturbances, although we may get some young snores if we are there more than three or four hours. The couple of children who would have the hardest time with that might have a brother or sister (who is especially close to the family the child is from) ask the parents if he or she could sit with that young one for the night. The child would then get a lot of one on one interaction, asking him in whispers if he understands the words to that last song, if he knew what that last brother meant when he said, “ __” and such. If they need to “take a step out of the room” for some more clear correction, they may do that too. And, there have been occasions where the youngest children have been in various homes, with ample responsible adults loving on them in each home.

At homes... when it might be just 20-50 people, there would be two different possible scenarios. If the evening or day is “loose” where there are just 15 different conversations happening (perhaps shifting from something someone just read in an Andrew Murray book, to the Colts last game and back : ) ), then the parents would do one of a couple of things. Either the parents would just stay especially sensitive to the whereabouts and situation of the child, or they would ask a brother or sister to help them do that if the child moves too quickly for the parent to be engaged in a Watchman Nee conversation or the reading a poem that a brother just had written, and also keep an eye on the child. They would ask specific ones to help with the tag-team child-care.

In another scenario in a home, where perhaps the reading of that poem and conversation that followed soon engaged the entire load of folks in the home, (and thus) “a meeting” emerges. At that point, perhaps all of the children would “circle up” with us, intermingled, or perhaps they would all (the youngest ones) be pulled off into another room (or rooms) with some adults. If there are maybe 18 children there, just for purposes of description, we would probably have five or six adults with them. Maybe every 20 minutes or so we might rotate three or four of the adults into the main room and swap (invisibly, seamlessly) with three or four that had been in the main room. And you can keep swapping throughout the evening or day, with everyone then being able to be with everyone else for the vast majority of the time. If the children were at a nearby house, the same could be true. If they were at homes a bit of distance away, then probably the adults would just settle in with the children for the entire duration, providing things to do and reading together and doing projects, or having conversation that would point them towards their approaching Destiny/Destination with Jesus. But, as was mentioned already, MOST of the times it is preferable to just have the children with us, intermingled.

With the “safety-challenged” over-active child, maybe we’d just have an adult (perhaps rotating as mentioned earlier) with them one-on-one always, in the midst of whatever other things are going on.

Question: Hi, we need some advice about dealing with the children when we gather. Being a small group of believers and having an equal share of children to grown-ups puts us in a difficult situation when we need to discipline. We have been practicing the advice given to us by keeping up the practice of disciplining when we all come together. When we do this, we gently take the child out of the room and bring him to another room and help/discipline him there. I have a two—and four—year-old and Todd has a two—and one-year-old. At times we are in and out of the room so frequently that this gets disruptive to others and makes it hard to completely focus on what is being said. And if we decide to just take the child out and stay with him, there will be, basically, no one left in the room. : ) We have been diligent at home in our discipline. In one way if we keep on taking them out to deal with them, the gathering seems un-orderly and that is against the Lord. But on the other hand, if we stay and try to discipline later we are not obeying Jesus either. We thought about pinching the children when they act up instead of bringing them out of the room, but are concerned that might be upsetting to them or make it even more un-orderly. What can we do? Help! Do you have any advice?—Brent

Hi Brent...For SURE don’t “wait” until some other time, and I really don’t believe you will communicate all that Jesus wants you to communicate to them with the “pinch” idea. I get the feeling they will consider the “living room times” something to be dreaded if you do that. I’d say, just keep being VERY consistent at home, and even train them to sit in a lap quietly for blocks of time during every day. Have them sit against a wall and read, totally quiet without moving, for blocks of time every day. Train them in the process of quiet sitting, on a daily basis. You’ll need that for times to pray also, where you can depend on them to be quiet and trouble-free. John Wesley’s mother, with 12 or 15 children, trained the children in a way that when she was sitting at the table with a napkin over her head, there would be no noise and no problems, even if she was praying for two hours. They learned to respect and enjoy this. SO, this is the MAIN issue—DAILY TRAINING in how to be quiet and productive by themselves, requiring no attention whatsoever.

The second issue is what to do when things DO come up when folks are together. For one, having one adult for every three or so children off in a side room or side house, and rotating adults through to care for them every 30 minutes or so, is quite effective. That would be for times when they are not all with you, which is often preferable, but not essential at all times. But, whatever you do, don’t train them by neglect or delay by putting them in situations where they can rebel against your word and the consequences are not readily apparent. ......Well, need to go! Love,

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