Overcoming Struggles of Bringing An Infant To Church Conference
Foreword from Reflecting Theologian
Overcoming struggles of bringing an infant to church conference is a practical topic for Christians, not an explicitly theological one. However, our actions betray our theology towards church and God.
Our home church, Hope Singapore, for the past ten years, holds a church conference for two full days over a weekend. Beccause Hope Singapore consists of multiple congregations that meet over the weekends, the church conference offers a once in a year opportunity for the congregations to gather in one setting to hear the vision of the church being panned out in more concrete details.
A Theological Reflection on Fellowship of the Believers and Unity of the Church with Regard to Church Conference
In essence, for a member to attend the church conference is an expression of fellowship with other believers, except it is in a larger setting. Fellowship in a church can be construed as a means of grace, where believers receive blessing within a church setting.
The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). And the author of Hebrews reminds believers, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24–25).
Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis in the NT on the unity of the church. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). Then Paul writes to Corinth, “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10; cf. v. 13).
He encourages the Philippians, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). He tells the Ephesians that Christians are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), and that the Lord gives gifts to the church “for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12–13).
All these mean that within the local church, there is a need, even for megachurches such as Hope Singapore, to gather as one church to not only enjoy church fellowship with the visible church itself. At the end of the day, as we reflect theologically on the necessity of Hope members going for our church conference, we need to bear in mind that we are not a “confederation of churches within a church” but really coming together to worship God as one church.
It is under this theological context that underlies some of the struggles that my wife and I overcame when we brought our four months old infant down to the church conference.
Below are her thoughts on overcoming struggles of bringing an infant to church conference, after reflecting her own experiences on being a new mother.
Angelina’s Thoughts on Overcoming Struggles of Bringing an Infant to Church Conference
Yes, it is difficult but not impossible!
For the longest time, I have struggled with going for two full days of church conference even before I had a kid. Not that the conference was not good, but it was too intensive for my body. , I would fall sick. For the past 10 years of church conferences, I only managed to make it for the full conference ONCE in 2017. That was a breakthrough for me.
I remembered discussing multiple times with Huanyan on how we will manage when we have a kid, given that I was barely able to survive the conference myself.
So for this year, Huanyan decided that we will bring her for the second day only for 2 reasons. Firstly, it will allow ourselves to be ministered as typically Day 1 is the time where we align ourselves back to God.
Secondly it will ensure that she doesn’t tire herself out since she doesn’t sleep well in unfamiliar environment. I thought this was a good middle ground between bringing her along for ministry and ensuring that both ourselves and her don’t get overtired. This was only possible because my mother-in-law happily agreed to help us look after her on Saturday, even though it was technically our shift.
Surprisingly this year’s conference was not as tiring as I thought it would be. In fact, this year I found it less tiring compared to the previous years, even though I had a baby to care for. Upon reflection, I only can say that #OnlyGod, because looking at the trend for the past 10 years, I would not have been able to survive conference with a baby this year.
There are struggles in bringing an infant to church conference. However, it is possible to bring our newborn along and not end up totally drained out after that, as long as we choose to depend on God for strength. Yes, it requires more effort to pack and bring all the logistics that a little person would require, but I realised at the end of the day whether we could make it for conference after having a baby boils down to how important was the conference to us as a family.
To us, Hope Conference is an important part of our family calendar because this is a weekend set aside to seek God on where God is leading us as a family and to realign back to His will for us. Often we get so caught up in the daily happenings and noise around telling us to do more in ministry or strive harder at work to get the career progression so that we can provide better for our family etc that we lose sight of our only goal in life – to know God and make Him known. And our role as parents is to facilitate that process for our kids as well.
So June, being the middle of the year, is a good time to slow down and do a stocktake of our lives as we set aside the weekend to hear from God. Once that decision is made, it is about choosing to depend on God, and also learning to accept help from others (husbands, LG etc), so that we can receive from conference without getting too tired out by taking care of our baby. After all the effort in preparing for the conference and lugging down all the logistics required, surely we want it to be more than just a time of babysitting our kids, right?
Practical Ways on Surviving in Conference
- Write out a packing list – to make sure that you dont miss out any items, especially for items that can only be packed just before leaving the house. Having the packing list also allows others to help in the packing, and hence reduces the stress on you when you already have to settle yourself and the baby in the morning.
- Prepare the night before – pack whatever you can the night before so that you dont have to rush the next morning
- Get husband to help – Typically guys get ready much faster. Get him to help in the packing, change the baby while you get yourself ready
Conclusion from Reflecting Theologian
Bringing an infant to church conference does not need to be such an immense struggle that we either choose not to go, or choose to just be distracted in the parent’s lounge during the sessions. The challenges are tough but surmountable. Needless to say, once we choose to join the conference so as to enjoy the fellowship of the church and to show our unity with the church, then bringing an infant to church conference is part of the process that we will overcome as parents.
For Hope members, what are other ways you have found helpful in your journey of bringing an infant to church conference? Share with us in the comments below. We would like to hear from you.