Hi there M. C. I am a grandmother of two and just had to respond to your plea for help. I don't know what church you attend but ours has a what is affectionately called the "cry room". There are speakers and large windows in the room so you still feel like part of the congregation. In lieu of that, do they have a child care room for little ones. If not, perhaps you could suggest same and maybe even help to get one started. Most churches now a days have some type of child care, just for the reasons you listed. Children of that age just can't be expected to sit still, be quiet, pay attention, etc. I realize some people are fortunate enough to have children who don't utter a peep in church (I've seen it maybe twice, ha ha), but for those of us who had or have normal little kids it can be frustrating. I took my grandchildren (4 and 13) to the cry room until they were old enough to realize what was going on or were nosy enough and wanted to see what was going on. And to this day we still always sit in the first 6 rows so the 4 year old can see what's going on. She loves the singing and the prayers. I am catholic so there is a lot of up and down, singing and praise to keep her occupied. I also know a couple who had 2 really "bad" little boys who took turns going to church while the other stayed home. Not the answer for everybody but it worked for them. Does you litte boy at 4 show any interest at all yet in church. Does your church have a Sunday School for them during church (in lieu of day care)?
I hope you find the solution. I know it's really hard to get something out of church for yourselves when you are constantly attending to little ones. And just remember they won't always be "little" and before you know it they will be in pre-school, kindergarden or CCD. Let me know if things get better or if you are successful in getting things started in your church. There are probably many many other parents in the same boat as you are.
Blessings to you and your family,