Thursday, July 15, 2010

You call this a happy family?! Why do we have to have all these kids?!

Different churches have different thoughts on children in the worship service. For some, the kids up through and including high school are never in the main worship service. For others, at birth the kids are there from opening to closing prayer. You will likely also be able to find everything in between.

[Personally, I think whatever a church's approach is, it better not be motivated by any idea of children being "unwelcome" or inconvenient distractions. Even though they are not always easy, children are a blessing, the more the merrier. But, of course, they will, at times act like children. We train them, but we shouldn't be surprised when they don't act like adults.]

Regardless of what your thoughts* are on when it will be, at some point the kids will need to be assimilated into "big church." I found the following, which I think has some helpful tips on having your children with you in church (adapted from Ruth Hale's booklet, "Calm Or Chaos").

I'd welcome your suggestions as well.

1. 0-2 yrs sit near back. 2+ yrs sit near the front of the auditorium, next to aisle.

2. Expect your child to sit quietly.

3. Do not pass children from pew to pew during worship service.

4. Be certain that your child uses the washroom and gets a drink before worship begins.

5. Talk to the child about being quiet before services begin.

6. Use sign language. A parent’s correction is often more disturbing than the child’s behavior.

7. Attend every service, gospel meetings, ladies classes & use as opportunities to train your child.

8. It may be helpful to give a child a soft toy (i.e. cloth rubber or plastic toy) to occupy him.

9. Learn to overlook small annoyances.

10. Make trips out unpleasant enough that they will be few and far between.

11. Do not leave your child in the care of other children.

12. Avoid allowing the child to become excited immediately before worship.

13. Be an example. Don’t "visit" with those sitting near you during worship.

14. Do not allow your child to play on the floor of the auditorium.

15. Criticism will come whether or not you discipline your child. Do what has to be done.

16. Don’t make excuses for your child or yourself.
*At Providence Church, we offer the option of a more kid-friendly version of the sermon for kids 3-2nd grade, but the kids only miss the sermon. In other words they were there until the sermon and they come back when the sermon is finished. However, children's church is optional, not mandatory.

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At 16 July, 2010 19:54, Anonymous JoAnne said...

You left out the duct tape option, Pastor (oh, just kidding). Seriously, if a child is continuously crying, please, Mom/Dad, take the child outside.

Really, I was just kidding about the duct tape. I love children - I was one once.

At 19 July, 2010 16:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good stuff, Gunny. I especially appreciate (9). That is the hardest for my wife and I. -Adam

At 20 July, 2010 22:06, Blogger GUNNY said...

Yeah, sometimes parents get overly sensitive and get embarrassed every time a kid fidgets or drops something. However, I have heard stories of people giving nasty and not so subtle comments discouraging kids from bringing their children, which is tragic.

Kids are kids and have to be trained to be mature. It's not gonna happen by accident. It takes work, patience, and, as JoAnne, suggested ... a little duct tape doesn't hurt.

At 26 July, 2010 16:37, Blogger Young Wife said...

I couldn't agree more. I actually got quite angry recently when a well known radio preacher said that children did not belong in church services. He'd even taken a scripture and twisted it to back up his idea.

At 26 July, 2010 23:43, Blogger GUNNY said...

Now, that's just nuts on so many levels, including the message it sends to the seemingly unwanted children.


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