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Book: Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship

Robbie Castleman. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993. 139 pp. $10.99. Reviewed by Cindy Holtrop, program director for grants and congregational formation, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Children need not be a distraction to parents and other worshipers in the worship service if we take seriously our commitment to “train children to worship and to pay attention to God.” Eugene Petersen encourages adults to “attend to God.” Parents who help their children attend to God in worship, says Castleman, will find themselves more deeply able to attend to God in worship. Castleman provides practical insights and suggestions, good theology, and helpful anecdotes for parents of toddlers through teens that come out of her own experience of training her two children to worship.

Castleman believes children should not only be present in worship but that they should also be active participants in worship. She suggests preparing for worship on Saturday evening to minimize Sunday-morning hassles. One chapter includes tips on teaching children to pray, the role of corporate prayer in worship, and honesty in prayer.

While affirming the partnership between parents and the church in training children for worship, Castleman also emphasizes the need for stimulating children’s theological imagination and trusting the Spirit’s work in their lives.

The book concludes with two helpful appendices: “Parenting in a Wiggly Pew: The Challenge of Overactive Children” and “Children’s Worship for Seeker Churches.”

This quick read will support some things parents probably know and practice already. It will also provide church educators and parents with new ideas for helping children attend to God in worship.

The discussion questions included in the book make it a good choice for small groups.