Friday, May 4, 2012

Children in Church

Children in Church
By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times

I think every parent has had an “embarrassing child moment” in church. I remember Cody’s first Christmas Eve service. He was only 5 weeks old and he was not happy to be in church. I took him to the cry room no less than 4 times during that service (it’s one of my favorite services of the year and I desperately wanted to be in church with my family and church friends). He was crying so loud that people in church were turning around to look at us behind the glass walls of the cry room.

I can laugh about it now…but it wasn’t funny at the time. Whenever my kids were loud in church (or just made a tiny bit of noise) I just knew that everyone was looking at me and mentally “tsk-ing” me because my kids were so obviously completely out of control because I was a terrible mother (yes, I tend to blow things up sometimes, especially when it comes to being a mom!).

 I think the disciples were probably “tsk-ing” the mothers who brought their children to Jesus, as recounted in Matthew 19, which says, Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”” Jesus clearly wanted the children to be close to Him.

And He wants to see children in church today, too! Moms, bring your kids to church—even if they do make noise! Experiment with the service you go to, where you sit, and how you prepare your kids for church. They will naturally be less likely to sit if they are very tired or hungry. Some kids pay attention better if they sit close to the front—where the action in church is. Some kids will be distracted with toys or books; some parents prefer to teach their children to listen and take part in the service. Your techniques will probably change as your kids get older—figure out what works for you and your family!

And now an important word for church members who don’t have kids or whose kids are grown: Remember what Jesus said; “Let the little children come to me.” In many churches the families with young kids sit toward the back of the church. If you don’t enjoy the sounds of children, sit somewhere else! And please refrain from giving parents whose kids are making noise a dirty look or telling them their kids should be quiet. It’s hard enough to be a mom, trying to do the right thing by taking kids to church, and a nasty comment or dirty look is demoralizing and discouraging.

Instead, offer a patient smile that says, “It’s OK—I know what it’s like to have kids in church and don’t mind a little noise a bit.” Better yet, encourage parents who bring their kids to church! Say, “It’s great to see your kids in church. I know it’s not always easy to bring them, but you are doing the right thing.”

A few years ago, during a baptism at our church, a sibling of the child who was being baptized made a huge fuss when her parents and new brother were in the front of the church during the baptism. The little girl wiggled out of the arms of her aunt and began running around the area where the baptism was being done. The mom looked embarrassed and mortified. After church I witnessed an older lady of the church, who the mom clearly didn’t know, say to the mom, We love children in this church, and we love to see and even hear them. Your family is beautiful!” And I could see on the mom’s face that this made a huge difference in how she would remember the day. Be the person who gives families a positive feeling about having their children in church!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thess. 5:11

How do (or did) you encourage your kids to sit quietly in church? 

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