Hot Best Seller

Parenting in the pew : guiding your children into the joy of worship

Availability: Ready to download

"Daddy, I'd like you to meet my children."That's Robbie Castleman's attitude about taking her children to church. She believes that Sunday morning isn't a success if she has only managed to keep the kids quiet. And she knows there's more to church for kids than trying out their new coloring books. Children are at church for the same reason as their parents: for the privile "Daddy, I'd like you to meet my children."That's Robbie Castleman's attitude about taking her children to church. She believes that Sunday morning isn't a success if she has only managed to keep the kids quiet. And she knows there's more to church for kids than trying out their new coloring books. Children are at church for the same reason as their parents: for the privilege of worshiping God.Worship, Castleman writes, is "the most important thing you can ever train your child to do." So with infectious passion, nitty-gritty advice and a touch of humor, she shows you how to help your children (from toddlers to teenagers) enter into worship.In this expanded edition Castleman includes two new appendixes on the important issues of hyperactive children in worship and children's church for seekers. She also provides a study guide for personal reflection or group discussion. More than ever, Parenting in the Pew is essential reading for parents and worship leaders who want to help children make joyful noises unto the Lord.


Compare

"Daddy, I'd like you to meet my children."That's Robbie Castleman's attitude about taking her children to church. She believes that Sunday morning isn't a success if she has only managed to keep the kids quiet. And she knows there's more to church for kids than trying out their new coloring books. Children are at church for the same reason as their parents: for the privile "Daddy, I'd like you to meet my children."That's Robbie Castleman's attitude about taking her children to church. She believes that Sunday morning isn't a success if she has only managed to keep the kids quiet. And she knows there's more to church for kids than trying out their new coloring books. Children are at church for the same reason as their parents: for the privilege of worshiping God.Worship, Castleman writes, is "the most important thing you can ever train your child to do." So with infectious passion, nitty-gritty advice and a touch of humor, she shows you how to help your children (from toddlers to teenagers) enter into worship.In this expanded edition Castleman includes two new appendixes on the important issues of hyperactive children in worship and children's church for seekers. She also provides a study guide for personal reflection or group discussion. More than ever, Parenting in the Pew is essential reading for parents and worship leaders who want to help children make joyful noises unto the Lord.

30 review for Parenting in the pew : guiding your children into the joy of worship

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    While she had some good ideas, I found this in the end to be mostly unhelpful. I was already convinced that my daughter needed to be in church with me and was looking for how to make that happen. She had a few ideas for little ones, but in chapter four or five said that a child my daughter's age should still be in the nursery. She did have good ideas for getting older children involved in their time in the pew, though. My main frustration is with her theology. I didn't expect her to be Lutheran, While she had some good ideas, I found this in the end to be mostly unhelpful. I was already convinced that my daughter needed to be in church with me and was looking for how to make that happen. She had a few ideas for little ones, but in chapter four or five said that a child my daughter's age should still be in the nursery. She did have good ideas for getting older children involved in their time in the pew, though. My main frustration is with her theology. I didn't expect her to be Lutheran, but the Lutheran theology of worship, with it being God's way of coming to us, not our gift to him, is so much more fitting to her thesis. I also felt that her chapter on sacraments failed in her attempt to reach across denominations. When you use the word symbolizes that many times to describe baptism and communion, you're excluding a large portion of Christianity. This book is important for the evangelical world, which has become used to separating children and teenagers from regular worship, but it's not the right answer for Lutherans and Catholics who have the historical and theological background for having children of all ages in church for worship and are only just beginning to lose sight of that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Glassick

    I really appreciated that Castleman advocates for keeping children in service, rather than relegating them elsewhere to color. In the first two chapters she does a great job explaining what worship is and what worship isn’t. On this foundation she builds the importance of teaching children to worship. Later in the book she gives some general helpful tips that I will definitely be tucking away once my son is a bit older. There wasn’t a ton of tips for this with very small children. I had some min I really appreciated that Castleman advocates for keeping children in service, rather than relegating them elsewhere to color. In the first two chapters she does a great job explaining what worship is and what worship isn’t. On this foundation she builds the importance of teaching children to worship. Later in the book she gives some general helpful tips that I will definitely be tucking away once my son is a bit older. There wasn’t a ton of tips for this with very small children. I had some minor disagreements simply because it was not written from a thoroughly reformed viewpoint, but I think this book would be helpful to someone who is unsure how to approach church with their children. It’s more introductory so don’t expect deep covenants theology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Fast, straightforward read on Castleman's approach to teaching one's children how to worship (instead of just "be good" or "be quiet") during Sunday services. Helpful resource for parents who are trying to keep their kids in the "adult service" in an age when children's church at most churches is making that much less normal than it used to be. Lots of great ideas and tips, some of which could easily be incorporated into family devotions/worship as well. A bit more ecumenical than I was expectin Fast, straightforward read on Castleman's approach to teaching one's children how to worship (instead of just "be good" or "be quiet") during Sunday services. Helpful resource for parents who are trying to keep their kids in the "adult service" in an age when children's church at most churches is making that much less normal than it used to be. Lots of great ideas and tips, some of which could easily be incorporated into family devotions/worship as well. A bit more ecumenical than I was expecting for a Presbyterian author (I was especially disappointed by the chapter on prayer), but most of her ideas are solid.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell Dixon

    Great primer on why we should train our children to worship. Very practical tips. I am going through this as a book discussion for my church and I am excited to see the fruit of this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    What a breath of fresh air to give me a new perspective on family integrated worship! For 11 years I've attended churches with children included in the worship. I've been a parent for almost 4 of them. And until now, I've just "gotten through it" or "begrugingly survived" because that's how the PCA & OPC churches we've attended have done things. But this book has changed my perspective on the matter and has given me a renewed resurgence to be a better parent (at least in the pews) and really int What a breath of fresh air to give me a new perspective on family integrated worship! For 11 years I've attended churches with children included in the worship. I've been a parent for almost 4 of them. And until now, I've just "gotten through it" or "begrugingly survived" because that's how the PCA & OPC churches we've attended have done things. But this book has changed my perspective on the matter and has given me a renewed resurgence to be a better parent (at least in the pews) and really introduce my kids to the wonderful worship of our almighty God. Robbie Castleman is a kindred spirit. We've both been raised since childhood to "go to church" and do our outward duty to sit still and be quiet. We were never taught how to actively and lovingly worship God, we got there on our own journeys. And now we're both pastor's wives parenting 2 kids close in age figuring out how to teach worship to these wiggly souls in that pew without Dad there with us. My husband has long frowned on my practice to bring books, coloring items, and toys for our kids to keep them quiet and entertained. But he did not interfere since he was not the one back there with them. Instead, I think he prayed hard for my change in heart and the change came through the parents' group at our old church who were going through this book together. Right off the bat, I was hit with the need to change my attitude of "keep them quiet at all costs" hoping that they will understand worship at a later time. In my mind, if the kids "did well" in worship service, it meant they were quiet and outwardly well behaved. Instead, I was convicted that the priority should be to learn that worshipping God is a privilege and the ways to go about doing this. I started the book looking for how-to's in this aspect, but finished appreciating the author's plea to a change in mindset and how to do this, and didn't appreciate so much the practical aspects (more on this later). What hit home (besides what was written above) was the freeing of myself from the stigmas of keeping the kids quiet and focus instead of actively parenting them (which can be noisy at times). This should be the most important time to parent, shouldn't it? Who cares what other adults may think, this is such a crucial thing for them to learn and the best time to do it. Granted, Castleman believes that kids my kids' age belong in a nursery (and many weeks I still frustratingly agree), but I think her book has as much (if not more) importance to this age as those in older sets. I also appreciated her reminding me that we have a whole congregation of saints rooting for kids to worship God, and one enemy who will stop at nothing to defeat this purpose. This has helped me in my many frantic embarassed moments every Sunday to calm myself down, breathe a quick prayer to God for patience and focus, and amazingly I receive instant peace each and every time giving me the energy and focus to deal with the problem at hand and the patience to point my child back to worshipping God. Chapter 6 and beyond, Castleman got more into the elements of worship and more practical tips. Though some are useful (I immediately implemented the moratorium on snacks, books, toys, and coloring other than in the children's bulletin which is focused on the sermon), I found her tips tended to overstep her bounds as a layperson. She seemed to suggest the elders and pastors change (and possibly even dumb down) the elements of worship and sermon to be more child-friendly and engaging. This is not her place. Instead, I believe parents need to find a way to bring kids into worship in the way the church has deemed appropriate and Scripture mandated. My Sundays have not gotten "better" behavior-wise (on the contrary, in the growing pains of this process we've experienced more distraction and naughty resistance to this), but with a clear focus in mind I know this is the best thing I can do for my children's spiritual upbringing. This is much more important that outward behavior. The power struggles and many trips outside to refocus have left me weary and defeated many weeks, but one communion Sunday reinforced my resolve to keep chugging. It had been a rough worship service when the new change in plan had recently been put into place. But when the communion portion of service had started, my 3 year old (who previously would have been distracted with a book or toy) was actually sitting up and interested in what was happening up front. He asked me questions, I answered, and asked him more questions to see if he understood what was going on and he told me the whole gospel message and what the communion represented. I probably would have cried right there if he hadn't been talking at standard toddler volume (almost shouting) and I hadn't been trying to explain to him whispering (again). Overall 3.5 stars for a book that will be kept within arms' reach for many years to come.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Starry

    I found this book helpful and thought-provoking: a good starting point for considering how to train children to worship in church. It convicted me that I haven't been making a consistent, well-thought-out effort in this important aspect of parenting. (Yes, I focus too much on for-heaven's-sake-would-you-please-sit-still-so-the-rest-of-us-can-worship and too little on helping my children become active participants in the service.) So I'm grateful that the author gives good rationale for training I found this book helpful and thought-provoking: a good starting point for considering how to train children to worship in church. It convicted me that I haven't been making a consistent, well-thought-out effort in this important aspect of parenting. (Yes, I focus too much on for-heaven's-sake-would-you-please-sit-still-so-the-rest-of-us-can-worship and too little on helping my children become active participants in the service.) So I'm grateful that the author gives good rationale for training children to worship and good practical advice on how to do this. However, I do not agree 100% with the author. I parent within perspective: that is, I do not make my children the whole focus of my existence but rather aim for a balance in which everyone's individual needs (including mine) and the needs of the family as a whole are all taken into account. That being the case, I thought the author's methods of teaching young children to worship came too much at the expense of the parent's own worship experience. As high of a calling as parenting is and as important as it is to raise children who love and worship God, parents are also called to joyful, whole-hearted worship, and children should learn to respect the worship experience of their parents and others in the nearby pews. It's why we're here -- not only in church but on this earth. The author recognizes this and says that the teaching of our children to worship can heighten our own worship experience. However, she suggests, for example, that the parent be whispering to her child throughout the church service to engage the child in thinking about the message or service elements. I can picture very brief exchanges of this sort but would find it distracting to myself and others nearby (and perhaps even to my child trying to listen) if continuous. Instead, I think it best to leave more to the Holy Spirit as I 'let go' and worship God myself -- possibly even being an example to my child as I do this. Children do learn by observation -- and even on their own account without parental effort or goading. That aside, I value many suggestions in this book. Not just the suggestion to take seriously the ability and calling of children to worship God but the many practical suggestions for how to do this, such as: - keep Sunday morning calm by doing most preparations the night before (offering, clothes) - treat Sunday worship as a privilege - take notes or have your child take notes during the sermon to help them follow along - have after-church discussions - teach at home the hymns or worship songs commonly used in your church

  7. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    The philosophy behind "Parenting in the Pew" is that we don't go to church, but we go to worship. When we do so, we are worshiping the Almighty God who saved us from our sins. And so as Christians it is our responsibility to teach our children how to enjoy worshiping God. In so doing, we ourselves learn to enjoy worship more. The book is a quick read; Robbie Castleman gives practical examples as to how to engage children in worship from toddlers to teenagers. The book contains many anecdotes from The philosophy behind "Parenting in the Pew" is that we don't go to church, but we go to worship. When we do so, we are worshiping the Almighty God who saved us from our sins. And so as Christians it is our responsibility to teach our children how to enjoy worshiping God. In so doing, we ourselves learn to enjoy worship more. The book is a quick read; Robbie Castleman gives practical examples as to how to engage children in worship from toddlers to teenagers. The book contains many anecdotes from her own children and other children and families in churches she has been a part of. She makes a clear distinction between teaching our children to be silent (and so just giving them activities to occupy themselves) and teaching them to participate in worship. Castleman emphasizes that while teaching your children to worship is difficult, it is definitely worth it. Castleman also gives ideas as to how church leaders can make a worship service more child-friendly. For example, if your church projects words to songs onto a screen, provide the words in print for the children as it is hard for children to focus on a screen. She emphasizes that our worship services should be inter-generational (as God's Church is) and so the church should be seeking ways in which it can help children to enjoy worship. I recommend this book to any parent who doesn't know what to do with their children during the worship service. And to any parent who thinks they know what to do with their children during worship! I also recommend it to church leaders who would like insight as to how to help the children in the congregation to participate in worship more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Yes, this book has things in it that I don't agree with. However, it has changed my view on my role as a parent for the better. I was frustrated when our church started to have the children sit in with us during worship. I was constanly correcting my son who was having trouble sitting. I was getting NOTHING out of worship. Somthing had to give. A friend gave me this book and said the same thing I just told you. I don't agree with everything in this book. However the author was very good at expla Yes, this book has things in it that I don't agree with. However, it has changed my view on my role as a parent for the better. I was frustrated when our church started to have the children sit in with us during worship. I was constanly correcting my son who was having trouble sitting. I was getting NOTHING out of worship. Somthing had to give. A friend gave me this book and said the same thing I just told you. I don't agree with everything in this book. However the author was very good at explaining how we as parents are the ones to teach our children how to worship God. In doing so I am obeying God and with the right attitude it can be my worship. I started applying the practical advice and before I knew it not only was I enjoying worship like before but it was even better because my son had joined his family in worship. I no longer see training my children to sit in a pew as a chore but as a privilage, one that God has given me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jehan

    I wish there were half star ratings & I could give this book a 2.5, because I felt like I was divided equally between liking it & disliking it. While the author is certainly on point theologically, her verbiage teetered on being condescending & left me with the distinct feeling that her two sons (who are now adults, but whom she developed this "method" with as children) were never distractions in church & were so much better off because of what "she" had done. I certainly agree that training chi I wish there were half star ratings & I could give this book a 2.5, because I felt like I was divided equally between liking it & disliking it. While the author is certainly on point theologically, her verbiage teetered on being condescending & left me with the distinct feeling that her two sons (who are now adults, but whom she developed this "method" with as children) were never distractions in church & were so much better off because of what "she" had done. I certainly agree that training children in worship is a key part of growing up in the faith-and now that my 6 year old (and occasionally my 4 year old) are in the church service with us weekly, it was helpful to hear her approach in presenting sacraments like baptism & communion to elementary aged children. But without being able to personally hear her tone of voice, her writing felt a little too legalistic for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    I chose this book for any practical advice I could get while realizing (based on previous investigation) that I probably wouldn't find much of value for our current situation and mindset. So I wasn't too surprised when I didn't find the contents helpful. This is a very specific type of book for those people who are in similar church settings and for those who believe the same way and the same "truths" this pastor's wife believes. I didn't agree with some of her general conclusions about reasons I chose this book for any practical advice I could get while realizing (based on previous investigation) that I probably wouldn't find much of value for our current situation and mindset. So I wasn't too surprised when I didn't find the contents helpful. This is a very specific type of book for those people who are in similar church settings and for those who believe the same way and the same "truths" this pastor's wife believes. I didn't agree with some of her general conclusions about reasons for church attendance, standards for children in a church service and the mindset of parents toward children who disobey. But I am an odd duck and don't easily fit into any mold of Christian, parent or church-goer. You may love this book and more power to you if you find value here! But this is my personal opinionated review from my very specific personality and mindset. ;)

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Goetz

    Basically, Castleman argues convincingly that children 4+ belong in worship, not in age-segmented children's church. In short, a fundamental task of parenting is to teach our children to worship, and this happens best when we sit together with them in corporate worship. The book takes time to deal with various objections and to give tips on how to make the most of the different elements of your church's worship (e.g., singing, corporate prayer, preaching, and the sacraments) in training your chi Basically, Castleman argues convincingly that children 4+ belong in worship, not in age-segmented children's church. In short, a fundamental task of parenting is to teach our children to worship, and this happens best when we sit together with them in corporate worship. The book takes time to deal with various objections and to give tips on how to make the most of the different elements of your church's worship (e.g., singing, corporate prayer, preaching, and the sacraments) in training your children. It's a useful resource for parents who are in a kids-in-worship congregation and also for children's directors/pastors who have never considered anything other than children's church.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The first half of this book which centers primary on the importance of worship is fantastic. But the last half felt a bit more scattered, as if the author was simply fleshing out a list of bullet points. Overall, though, a worthwhile read. However, I'm hesitant to hand this book out to anyone in my church lest they feel judged. If a person attends a church where "children's church" is offered to nearly middle school age, this book is a uncomfortable read. As someone who keeps her kids with her w The first half of this book which centers primary on the importance of worship is fantastic. But the last half felt a bit more scattered, as if the author was simply fleshing out a list of bullet points. Overall, though, a worthwhile read. However, I'm hesitant to hand this book out to anyone in my church lest they feel judged. If a person attends a church where "children's church" is offered to nearly middle school age, this book is a uncomfortable read. As someone who keeps her kids with her while the rest run out, I'm encouraged by this book. I was convicted in areas I've become lax about. The two appendices are a nice addition. As someone who has a severely ADHD child with additional diagnoses, I appreciated her acknowledgement of the added challenge that kind of child brings. But she doesn't let parents like me off the hook; like every other part of parenting this kind of child, it's still necessary, just harder. (I can tell her, her family's tradition of Sunday morning donuts is a BAD idea for my ADHD kid! Sunday morning needs to be protein only! 🤣) Her info about a "seeker sensitive" church is an interesting compromise. Having "children's church" for those new to worship or for the bone-weary parent is something I've briefly suggested as an option, but I've never seen it happen in any church. Good theory on paper though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    There is a LOT in this book that I’d recommend to take with a grain of salt, but the main idea of training our children in worship rather than simply going to church is one that will stick with me. I think this could be a helpful resource for parents attending churches without children’s programs (due to COVID or other factors).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    My biggest takeaway: the goal is to teach our children to worship in church, not just behave. Rethinking some things for my crew.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    As a frazzled father of three, I know how hard church can be. While life at home is often pandemonium in church I feel like I have to reign those kids in. At the very least keep them from kicking the pew in front of them. Author Robbie Castleman challenges us parents to enlarge our vision of what our kids can experience in church. Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship, now in its third edition, brings together Castleman’s skill as a theologian, and her experience ra As a frazzled father of three, I know how hard church can be. While life at home is often pandemonium in church I feel like I have to reign those kids in. At the very least keep them from kicking the pew in front of them. Author Robbie Castleman challenges us parents to enlarge our vision of what our kids can experience in church. Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship, now in its third edition, brings together Castleman’s skill as a theologian, and her experience raising her sons in church. This is a thoughtful book which challenges readers to invest in teaching kids to worship God (not just behave themselves) and leading them to a fresh encounter with God. Along the way Castleman shares insights, personal anecdotes and stories of how other parents have been able to ’parent in the pew.’ Castleman’s book begins with a plea for parents to ‘pay attention’ to their children, how they learn and how they can participate in worship. She argues that participation in worship is formative for children (and the rest of us). But she knows the challenge. In one witty chapter, she discusses ‘Worship BC and AD,’ that is, ‘before children’ and ‘after diapers.’ When we seek to enter into God’s presence our children may be a distraction. If we are not careful we will end up teaching our kids to be ‘quiet in church’ without really teaching them the meaning of worship and failing to participate in worship ourselves. Worship is about giving God his due glory, not about our own experience. God is not the least bit bothered by our kids participating (just ask Jesus). From there Castleman explores the elements of worship and how to prepare your kids to participate. For those who worship on Sunday morning, this preparation often begins the night before (making sure kids get enough rest, are awake and ready for church, the tone you set for the day, etc.). Castleman provides various strategies for maximizing attentiveness to the sermon, getting kids to sing, pray and participate in the liturgy. This edition updates the examples for a new generation (the original edition was published twenty years ago). Earlier editions talked about Castleman’s experience of training her own sons in worship. Those stories are still here, but now her sons are grown and are parenting their own children’ in the pew.’ Additionally there are examples from other parents she’s encountered at ‘parenting in the pew’ seminars and workshops. What Castleman says here is really valuable. As Christians we were made to worship God and I believe our participation in corporate worship is formational. The vision she has for including kids in worship, preparing them for Sundays and cultivating attentiveness to the Word is commendable and I think right on target. She also communicates her vision of intergenerational ministry with wit and grace. I appreciate that while she has some clear directives (don’t bring a coloring book to distract your kids but seek instead to get them to participate) she also honors the differences in children’s personalities. If worship is about paying attention to God, teaching worship to our kids begins with paying attention to them. Putting this book into practice may be challenging for parents if their church doesn’t have a vision for intergenerational ministry and the participation of kids in worship. My family and I are lucky enough to be a part of a church community which really values getting the kids involved in the worship service. Other churches in town do not have the same value. For parents seeking to carry out Castleman’s suggestions, they may find that they are kicking against the goads. There is enough in this book which challenges leaders to make the worship a more hospitable place for children but Castleman addresses the leadership challenge more directly in Story Shaped Worship (forthcoming IVP May 2013). Another challenge for parents is that some of Castleman’s suggestions work better for different developmental stages. Still parents of toddlers to teens can all benefit from this book. I think this is a great book and would recommend it to both parents and ministry leaders. There are a lot of kids who grow up ‘quiet’ in church who later quietly leave out the backdoor. I think getting parents to invest in teaching their kids to worship and leading them to an encounter with God is necessary if we want our children to grow up in the faith. Pastoral leaders also need to properly care for children and families in their midst and encourage their spiritual growth. Castleman’s focus on worship is particularly refreshing. I give this book ★★★★. Thank you to InterVarsity Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    And here I was, thinking that we were doing pretty good, having all four of our children in church with us, including them in the worship service, teaching them the liturgy, giving them activities to work on (somewhat) related to the sermon (or, in the case of the youngest, just letting her color or read her book or do anything she likes, so long as she's quiet). It's easy to use the "but I have four kids under seven" defense to excuse taking the easier way out. But Castleman gently exhorts pare And here I was, thinking that we were doing pretty good, having all four of our children in church with us, including them in the worship service, teaching them the liturgy, giving them activities to work on (somewhat) related to the sermon (or, in the case of the youngest, just letting her color or read her book or do anything she likes, so long as she's quiet). It's easy to use the "but I have four kids under seven" defense to excuse taking the easier way out. But Castleman gently exhorts parents to do more than plop their children into the pews with their coloring books--to instead show them what worship actually looks like, to teach them to pay attention to the sermon rather than distracting them with activities designed to keep them quiet. A good read and a convicting one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I found this book one frustrated Sunday while I was wandering our church building with my toddler (instead of sitting in the service). The title jumped out at me since the burden of dealing with my kids at church has been heavy on my mind all year. Like the author, I am a single-parent on Sunday mornings while my husband (an ordained Anglican deacon) is up front. I have three kids, ages 6, 5, and almost 2, and we are the only family with small children in the congregation. Most weeks there is a " I found this book one frustrated Sunday while I was wandering our church building with my toddler (instead of sitting in the service). The title jumped out at me since the burden of dealing with my kids at church has been heavy on my mind all year. Like the author, I am a single-parent on Sunday mornings while my husband (an ordained Anglican deacon) is up front. I have three kids, ages 6, 5, and almost 2, and we are the only family with small children in the congregation. Most weeks there is a "Sunday school" class for my older kids, usually only for part of the service, and there is no nursery care. On average I spend about 15 minutes in the sanctuary, and the rest of the time in the cry room or nursery where sound is piped in. I rarely feel like I have heard a word sung or spoken, and my kids mostly just play whether in or out of the sanctuary. I'm tired and I want this to change. Furthermore, I was a kid who "counted bricks" while keeping quiet in church, and I am hoping for better for my children. Robbie Castleman's premise in 'Parenting in the Pew' is excellent, and I believe that her heart is in the right place. You can tell her children's faith is of supreme importance to her and that encouraging her kids to engage in worship and in the life of their church was a priority for their family. I did not agree with every tenet she set out. Her tone occasionally seems patronizing, but in the end I believe that she is speaking from years of hard work and from the joy of success in her own kids' lives. It seems Ms. Castleman has come out of a very specific time (my parents' generation, not mine) and a specific tradition; not all of her examples or ideas translate across denominations, cultures, or congregations. I know where she's coming from, but some biases were glaring. However, I still affirm her main ideas. Parents should take a more active role in teaching their kids how to worship and they should do it by being good worshippers themselves! As some other reviewers have said, the practical how-to's in the book are kind of sparse. What I was looking for was how to wrangle a loud, squirmy toddler while keeping my older kids from running out the back doors of the sanctuary at any given moment...for an hour and a half...at lunch time. Well, according to the plan she lays out, I guess I'm out of luck. Children under 4 should be in the nursery and normal services only last an hour. Even though she wasn't able to speak directly to my situation, I still found many of her insights valuable, even beautiful. I'm glad that I took the time to read this and think through some of her ideas; they will positively affect my approach to teaching my kids how to worship God in a church setting. So read this book for encouragement, for reminding yourself of the big picture, for recommitting to your efforts with your kids, and for rediscovering your own joy for worship again. Just don't expect to have every scenario spelled out for you. You'll still come away saying, "Okay, now how do I do this in my church with my kids?" Then try to figure it out.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deborah-Ruth

    As a children's pastor, this is a book that I was really looking forward to reading, but was sadly disappointed with the final result. Robbie has a lot of truth to what she writes about and it is certainly helpful in some ways both for parents of young children and parishioners in general. I really appreciated her sentiment that worship is "more than just keeping kids quiet so their parents can have a break" and that there is a difference between "going to church" and "going to worship" that kid As a children's pastor, this is a book that I was really looking forward to reading, but was sadly disappointed with the final result. Robbie has a lot of truth to what she writes about and it is certainly helpful in some ways both for parents of young children and parishioners in general. I really appreciated her sentiment that worship is "more than just keeping kids quiet so their parents can have a break" and that there is a difference between "going to church" and "going to worship" that kids need to learn early on. I also very much agree with her emphasis on parents being the primary method through which kids learn about faith and Scriptures (yes, she also believes in "mentors" such as older teens or adults within the church and pastors taking up some of the role as well...but primarily that responsibility belongs with the parents and families themselves). So all this was great. The first two chapters were wonderful, then the rest of the book was completely old school and not relevant at all to children's ministry today. Robbie talks about "forcing" kids as young as 4 to sit through an entire service including a 45 minute sermon!! I know from past experience that most kids don't have that attention span and will get nothing out of it. She condemns parents who allow toys or games for their kids, sitting with people who aren't your parents (even when the children are teens and should be old enough to make their own decisions). She also prohibits doodling or drawing pictures on church bulletins. I understand where she is coming from. And believe this book can be helpful as a general overview. However, she completely diminishes the effectiveness of Sunday school programming. I do agree that Sunday school should be about teaching kids theology rather than just a "babysitting service" but I don't agree that a 4 year old is anywhere near old enough to sit through a service rather than spend time with their little friends downstairs. All in all, a good read if you want something a bit counter-cultural and I guess it did work out for her own kids as they are now all continuing on with church as adults. But as a general rule, I think this woman is writing from a different time period and it is not helpful for today.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Parenting in the Pew is part memoir and part practical theology as a pastor’s wife grapples with issues regarding children and the public worship service. For individuals and churches who are questioning participating in children’s ministry programs through elementary school, Parenting in the Pew will provide food for thought and conviction that it is good, right and worthwhile for children to worship with their parents. For those who already worship as a family or have minimal children’s program Parenting in the Pew is part memoir and part practical theology as a pastor’s wife grapples with issues regarding children and the public worship service. For individuals and churches who are questioning participating in children’s ministry programs through elementary school, Parenting in the Pew will provide food for thought and conviction that it is good, right and worthwhile for children to worship with their parents. For those who already worship as a family or have minimal children’s programming, Parenting in the Pew provides encouragement and helpful reminders that the point of having children in worship is to worship, and not to have them sit perfectly still so everyone knows you are the best parent in the room. That can be very important to hear. Castleman believes that children can be expected to sit through the whole worship service at about age four and everything but the sermon by about two and a half. She does not advocate having children color or look at other books during the worship service. So, if you are looking for practical advice on how to keep your toddler quiet and busy, this book will not meet that need! I’m glad this book was written and I think it’s helpful for the church as a whole. It may or may not be a must-read for your family. I don’t think it was a waste of my time, but I admit, I was looking for toddler tips!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was really excited to read this book. I have three kids ages nine, six and three. The older two are now in church with me, and I found myself focusing on discipline and losing the heart of why we were there. I enjoyed the first couple of chapters of this book, but after that it went downhill. She talks about guiding them into worship, but then she goes on to talk about a bunch of rules and requirements. It felt very overwhelming to me, and I stopped reading because there were a couple stories I was really excited to read this book. I have three kids ages nine, six and three. The older two are now in church with me, and I found myself focusing on discipline and losing the heart of why we were there. I enjoyed the first couple of chapters of this book, but after that it went downhill. She talks about guiding them into worship, but then she goes on to talk about a bunch of rules and requirements. It felt very overwhelming to me, and I stopped reading because there were a couple stories that seemed judgmental. She talked about some parents complaining about Sunday mornings, and said that they should love Sundays and look forward to them all week because God loves them. I can see looking forward to worshiping, but sometimes things are hard. Alternatively Clay Trumbull wrote a chapter of his book, Hints on Child Training, on keeping the Sabbath. I thought it was practical and encouraging. I found this book very discouraging with condemnation of certain parenting and exaltation of an unrealistic goal. That said, Robbie Castleman does have some healthy goals in there. It would be worth looking through the book for the vision and deciding the best way for your family to work in that direction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I found this book valuable because it's one of the few resources out there on the topic of teaching children to worship alongside their families. Sadly, it's pretty short and basically limited to the author's personal experience with her own children. While I found her insights and practical advice to be helpful, I wish the book had included a theological/philosophical approach to the topic as well. Also, she recognizes that generational segregation and the creation of child-centric church progr I found this book valuable because it's one of the few resources out there on the topic of teaching children to worship alongside their families. Sadly, it's pretty short and basically limited to the author's personal experience with her own children. While I found her insights and practical advice to be helpful, I wish the book had included a theological/philosophical approach to the topic as well. Also, she recognizes that generational segregation and the creation of child-centric church programs are not the norm if we take a broader view (historically and culturally speaking), but really makes no effort to bring the wisdom of the "big-C" Church into the conversation, which was a shame. Someone else please write a book about this! If others were available, I'd bump this down to 2 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Great! Mrs. Castleman does a wonderful job encouraging parents to not just "go to church" but learn to worship together. Not only does she admonish parents to leave behind coloring books, games, and Where's Waldo books, she gives gentle, practical wisdom of what to do as well. I love that she advocates all children, regardless of age, to worship with mom and dad in the pew. She instructs with age-appropriate guidelines for toddlers to teens. The only place I part with the Castlemans is on commun Great! Mrs. Castleman does a wonderful job encouraging parents to not just "go to church" but learn to worship together. Not only does she admonish parents to leave behind coloring books, games, and Where's Waldo books, she gives gentle, practical wisdom of what to do as well. I love that she advocates all children, regardless of age, to worship with mom and dad in the pew. She instructs with age-appropriate guidelines for toddlers to teens. The only place I part with the Castlemans is on communion. She is a credo-communionist and though I wholly submit to the PCA on this one, I ache for my children to partake of the blessed sacrament (paedo-communion). It's not an essential though, and it doesn't ruin the book for me. I am grateful for this read, as it's very timely in training our two-year-old for worship (and Mama too).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This is a great resource for parents with the theological philosophy behind why it is important to include children in worship, as well as the nuts and bolts of how to train your child in and for worship. It challenged me to think about the goal of including children in worship (it’s not for them to be quiet, it’s for them to worship and experience God). Some of the recommendations don’t work for a church setting like ours (no church bulletins or hymnbooks), but most of what she talks about can This is a great resource for parents with the theological philosophy behind why it is important to include children in worship, as well as the nuts and bolts of how to train your child in and for worship. It challenged me to think about the goal of including children in worship (it’s not for them to be quiet, it’s for them to worship and experience God). Some of the recommendations don’t work for a church setting like ours (no church bulletins or hymnbooks), but most of what she talks about can be adjusted or used. I particularly like her recommendations on how to explain and prepare your children for communion and her ideas on how to get even young children to glean knowledge from a long sermon. Reading this book will give you concrete ideas on how to guide your child in worship, and will help you think through the worship experience.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Parenting in the Pew was definitely worth my time to read... but it doesn't seem to be working (yet) with my own toddler. The author speaks from "the trenches." She's a mom who has successfully raised two church-attending boys. She's the wife of a minister, too, so she trained them to worship without help! I totally give her major props. The downside? The expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, I work. I'm not with my son all day to do many of the suggested activities to train him to sit sti Parenting in the Pew was definitely worth my time to read... but it doesn't seem to be working (yet) with my own toddler. The author speaks from "the trenches." She's a mom who has successfully raised two church-attending boys. She's the wife of a minister, too, so she trained them to worship without help! I totally give her major props. The downside? The expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, I work. I'm not with my son all day to do many of the suggested activities to train him to sit still. So I got a bit of guilt while reading. I'm sure that some day my son will be able to sit in the pew with me for 15 minutes. Right now... at 2... NOPE. I recommend this book, truly. But I do caution you that it won't give you a magical cure that you can implement overnight and then have a miraculously well-behaved toddler in the pew on Sunday.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    First, I think the target audience for this book is a member of a family-integrated church, and we do not attend one. Second, there were quite a few things in this book that were clearly the author's opinion and not biblically supported in any way. For example, the author would not let her children participate in communion until they had written and then shared their testimony in front of the church- I don't find this requirement in the Bible at all. I'm sure this was just a suggestion but it fel First, I think the target audience for this book is a member of a family-integrated church, and we do not attend one. Second, there were quite a few things in this book that were clearly the author's opinion and not biblically supported in any way. For example, the author would not let her children participate in communion until they had written and then shared their testimony in front of the church- I don't find this requirement in the Bible at all. I'm sure this was just a suggestion but it felt a bit legalistic to me. However, there were a few great tips on asking questions to encourage your child actually listen to the sermon and helping to them to participate in singing worship songs. But I think you can skip the rest.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    What a fab book! I read it several years ago when my eldest was a toddler and found it really thoughtprovoking - so I lent the book to someone and it's never come back! Reading it again now my children are both at school has been really good - the emphasis on teaching children to worship rather than how to behave in worship is striking and the encouragement not to make too much of every small bad habit they have is a real challenge! It's certainly helped me to look at how we behave in worship an What a fab book! I read it several years ago when my eldest was a toddler and found it really thoughtprovoking - so I lent the book to someone and it's never come back! Reading it again now my children are both at school has been really good - the emphasis on teaching children to worship rather than how to behave in worship is striking and the encouragement not to make too much of every small bad habit they have is a real challenge! It's certainly helped me to look at how we behave in worship and the messages we are giving our children about the importance of what we're doing. (and the author does all that from her own experience without making us feel rubbish!!)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Morse

    This one goes by fast! Here's what I liked- 1. I agreed with her that parents should be teaching their children how to worship. 2. She has a lot of stories, and they're not just success stories either. 3. She has a lot of practical wisdom for parents and, frankly, for pastors too. 4. The point she emphasizes several times in the book is that we don't come to church to be passive receivers, but to worship the almighty God. It was a helpful read for me because we're in the process of rethinking our This one goes by fast! Here's what I liked- 1. I agreed with her that parents should be teaching their children how to worship. 2. She has a lot of stories, and they're not just success stories either. 3. She has a lot of practical wisdom for parents and, frankly, for pastors too. 4. The point she emphasizes several times in the book is that we don't come to church to be passive receivers, but to worship the almighty God. It was a helpful read for me because we're in the process of rethinking our children's church right now to encourage parents to keep children with them as much as possible. This is a book I see myself giving to parents in the future to help them grow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There were things I really liked about this book. I was convicted about my attitude towards worship (mainly in thinking I needed to get something out of it, or that the Osan base chapel service needs to be Redeemer San Antonio instead of what it is) and my lack of preparation toward Sunday service in general. Other parts of the book rubbed me the wrong way, in the sense that a) the author is a deeply spiritual person that puts a lot more effort into instructing her much-fewer children than I eve There were things I really liked about this book. I was convicted about my attitude towards worship (mainly in thinking I needed to get something out of it, or that the Osan base chapel service needs to be Redeemer San Antonio instead of what it is) and my lack of preparation toward Sunday service in general. Other parts of the book rubbed me the wrong way, in the sense that a) the author is a deeply spiritual person that puts a lot more effort into instructing her much-fewer children than I ever could and b) I was so insanely jealous of all of her church experiences that were so very child-worship friendly in comparison to my own that I could barely hang on for the ride.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Growing up in church, I found myself mostly busied being occupied so as to be kept quiet and less of an unruly distraction if not shuffled off to a children's church that was well-led, but not exactly geared to transition us into the main worship service. I feel this book is a great place to start as parents find themselves feeling led to keep their children with them in the pew while doing more than just occupying their kid's time but instead, leading their kids into worship. It's not an easy r Growing up in church, I found myself mostly busied being occupied so as to be kept quiet and less of an unruly distraction if not shuffled off to a children's church that was well-led, but not exactly geared to transition us into the main worship service. I feel this book is a great place to start as parents find themselves feeling led to keep their children with them in the pew while doing more than just occupying their kid's time but instead, leading their kids into worship. It's not an easy road (I can attest, it's new to me), but I'm sure someday I'll see my little July apples ripen into October fruits... eyes on Jesus.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Burdick

    This is a very practical little book about how to guide your children in worship on Sunday mornings. The leadership of our church gave a copy to every family since nursery and Sunday School aren't running during the pandemic. I will probably revisit this book when my child is older, but I appreciated the perspective it offered on thinking about children in church. One of the things that I'm taking away from this book is that worship is not about you; it's about God. This is true whether you have This is a very practical little book about how to guide your children in worship on Sunday mornings. The leadership of our church gave a copy to every family since nursery and Sunday School aren't running during the pandemic. I will probably revisit this book when my child is older, but I appreciated the perspective it offered on thinking about children in church. One of the things that I'm taking away from this book is that worship is not about you; it's about God. This is true whether you have kids or not, and it's a parent's job to welcome their child into worship, even when they're fussy and noisy, and teach them how to encounter the living God.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.