Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear Parents with Young Children in Church


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You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.
When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.

I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she’s never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary.  I hear the echos of Amens just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can’t see my own children learning because, well, it’s one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.

I know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but I want you to know, it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people… and even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.

It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly timed depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.

I know it’s hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family - with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.
Related Posts
Children in Church
Children and Woodland Creatures at Church
A Little More Broken, a Little More Grounded in Love and Grace

Note 6/12/13: The response to this post has been stunning. I am reading every comment, but I cannot keep up with requests to re-publish in newsletters or church publications via comments. If you have a request to republish, please email me. Please include details of where you'd like to republish (i.e. church name and location), and I will respond as soon as possible. Any permission to reprint applies only to this post and to the location requested.

Note 8/27/13: With 418 comments, I am going to have to close the comments section. Blogger seems to be having trouble getting them all to load at this point. I've read every single one and I appreciate the conversation. For more conversation, I encourage you to check out other posts or join me on Facebook .

418 comments:

  1. Love this! I wish more people would get this. :)

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  2. I TOTALLY AGREE!!!!!!!

    YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT AND HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!

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  3. This is perfect! It does matter!

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  4. Beautiful post! As a pastor, I love having children worshiping with us. Sometimes the young ones want to talk or dance or sing....and that makes us all happy. I like the idea that children are being exactly who they are....and maybe we all can learn from their example. A little Confession: Sometimes when the toddlers are eating their Cheerios or playing with their little trucks I have to fight the urge to "bail" on the liturgy or sermon so I can play --or mooch those cheerios:)

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    1. I do sneak a fruit snack on occasion. It's great to hear pastors who welcome the joyful noises and worship of little ones. It makes all the difference to young families to have a supportive pastor. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  5. Beautiful! Thank you for your words.

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  6. This is so good - I'm sharing it with my congregations!

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  7. I'm going to post this at church on the bulletin board, next to the goofy laser tag pictures where it will get noticed. :) (If you don't mind.) My daughter (3) was singing her ABCs last week, at the wrong time. But another week when the pastor said "This is my body given for you." She responded with "For me!" Yeah, bringing kids to worship matters.

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    1. Sure, I don't mind! I love that, "For me!" We should all be that excited that it's given for US!

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  8. Parents - you and your children are not the center of the universe. Try to respect that others might be struggling with addiction, relationships, health and other spiritual issues. Your child's brief moment of spiritual growth via an outburst, "cute" moment or comment, or some other act, might be a big deal to you, but probably not be the biggest thing happening on any given day in the larger community.

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    1. Agreed! Thank you.

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    2. Bring the little children unto Me for theirs is the kingdom of God. As the wife of an alcoholic, a breast cancer survivor, a caregiver of aging parents, an unemployed single parent with a negative bank account balance trying to raise two teenage girls I relish the unconditional faith of our youth as they sing with zeal, RUN to the front with enthusiasm to hear the children's sermon, yell out the Amen at the end of Pastor's prayer. Because it is their totally unconditional thirst for His Word, their willingness to trust their needs will be provided for spiritually as well as physically which helps me most when I shake in fear that I can not stand anymore of this life's challenges. It is then that I listen to the sermon a little more concentrated, listen to the words of the service as if they were created just for me, try to pray with the same openness of a child and find myself closer to God. You are not being disrespected in your personal hardships by parents nor their children. Maybe The Lord is attempting to use their example of total acceptance to God as an example to those older in the congregation who forget and focus on the things of this world more than they should.

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    3. Our church has a quiet morning service, which is helpful for folks who need a contemplative environment for their struggles, and a later morning service with music and most of the kids at that one. Do you think that would be a good solution?

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    4. Then why don't we have addicts, those struggling with health and spiritual issues only in the first service. That should solve the problem. Right?

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    5. Anything that is exclusive is just not the way. Yes, one could respect that the objective of that first service is to experience a contemplative environment. But it just is not the Christian mandate of operation to be exclusive.
      There are a few families with small children who sit in the third pew from the front. I know because I sit with my 97 year old mother in the 4th pew. The older ones (whom we have listened to in the past) are quiet. The very young are not capable of the understanding to be quiet for such a long time. They will be quiet when told; and a little later they will not be. It is inconceivable to such a small child that he/she is to be quiet forever!
      So, the families stay together a come to church. It must be noted that when we have lenten weekday Taize services for contemplation, these parents do come alone. They are not clueless and think it is all about themselves. They know that the traditional Sunday service is where the entire congregation is welcome and share time that grows us closer together. Might that be God's objective?

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    6. Please remember that none of us are the center of the universe and yet we are all the center of God's universe. God wants us to all work and worship together; That means addicts, those who are ill, young and old. This keeps us from believing that we are the center of the universe. Shared worship can and does enrich everyone especially when little ones begin to participate in worship at their level because they understand and because everyone in the community has taught them and fostered their faith, not just their parents. Be patient with them and their parents just like others are patient with you and each other even in each of our brokenness.

      As the mother of small child who is preparing to be in ministry, thank you for writing this. Many blessings!

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    7. Is it a coincidence that the positive comments have names and the negative are anonymous? Just wondering;-)

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    8. Perfectly stated SeminaryMommy! Just as children need to learn to cope, so do addicts. Perhaps, if they had parents who struggled with them during worship services when they were children, they wouldn't be addicts. Everyone has issues, not just addicts. This comment shows severe selfishness and gives a perfect example of what you mentioned: you with your addictions, relational and spiritual issues, etc. are not the center of the universe either.

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    9. I am a recovering alcoholic. At my lowest point that was visible to others, I was homeless, unemployed, and unsure of where or when I would have my next meal. Showing up to church and hearing those "joyful noises" was pretty much the only thing I had left to hold on to. The little girl playing peekaboo in the pew in front of me was the only hope I could see. Watching a little boy give his mother a paper flower from the children's sermon was the only light I could see. Hearing those children singing wrong words loudly and imperfectly was the only message I could hear. God used many people to save my life, to keep me alive another day, another hour, another minute; those children were absolutely a part of it. They will always be my little angels.

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    10. kbbebe10: That was beautifully said. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    11. Thanks a bunch for posting....kbbebe 10 ,
      You can speak from experience , and as a mom of 5 children, (who are slowly growing up), we try to keep them at a reasonable quiet, but we cant always stop them before they make noises. Its good to read your post, and hope that more adults are not turned away from coming to church, on account of the little children that Jesus wants brought to him!

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    12. OK. I like what you wrote. And I am as helpful as can be of Mom's with little ones in our very laid back church service. However, I do not understand why anyone would bring young children into service when there is age appropriate worship and learning for them. When they are old enough to show the proper respect of others (say 5 with the understanding they'll fail from time to time), then start bringing them to the sanctuary. They learn so much more in a child friendly environment. And YOU the mom who is worn out, gets fed for an hours without them. And someone who is there beside you may actually get to hear the sermon and worship Jesus. I do think we have completely thrown out the standards of behavior in he sanctuary. It is a holy place and kids need to know that it is special.

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    14. As a mother of 3, with an age gap between the 2nd and 3rd, I learnt that it is harder to teach the children what is required in church once they have become too old for crèche. It was when my oldest boys struggled to learn to sit still in church (after age 5), that I decided that my youngest child would always stay with me in church... You cannot judge people just because you don't like the choices they make, as every parents story is different and they make different choices for different reasons...

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    15. How are the children ever going to learn how to behave in church if they are never taken to church? You can't simply wait until they are old enough to be still and quiet. They need to be brought up IN church. I will apologize for anyone who has offended you in your need for absolute control over your worship situation, but just like the parents and children are not the center of the universe(as you put it) - neither are you. I hope you find the peace you are looking for. I sincerely wish you no ill. I just wish you would have some compassion for the messy side of Christianity. Jesus loves the little children. Even the annoying ones, and He wants them to know Him and learn to love Him. They are never going to learn that if they are never exposed to worship.

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    16. Please let's keep our comments kind. I understand many feel very strongly, but let's do our best to respond with love and grace.

      All people come to church broken. People of all ages. Parents struggle with many of those things stated - addiction, relationship problems, illness and more. As do those without children. No one is more or less important in worship, and it is very hurtful when we feel that others are suggesting that.

      My heart hurts for those - parents, children, and adults - who have felt slighted or judged in the context of worship. That stings especially because so many of us go to church to find refuge.

      I also want to clarify that addiction is an illness, not a choice.

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    17. As a mother of a 7 year old, that can read and has the expectation of singing every song, because she can read the words, and also a 4 year old that asks me every 5 seconds if it's time to have his snack yet, that this post is wonderful. As parents it is our job to train our children. They are not going to learn the proper way to behave in a worship if we don't model and show them... in worship. There have been countless Sunday mornings that I have apologized to the people sitting near me for the distraction my children have been, and always the answer has been an applause of having lovely children that brought them joy... even if they embarrassed and frustrated me. Jesus said "Let the children come unto me". Thank you for this post.

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    18. Oh how I wish everyone felt like this. Twenty years ago the lady in the pew behind me suggested I take my 3 year old to the nursery so everyone could enjoy the service better. I felt so sad that that chuch didn't think my boy was fit to worship with them. But we stayed until the end of the service. We never went back to that church. Church is for all of us, not just the well-behaved!

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    19. Wow, I read this comment a totally different way. As a mom of a one year old who routinely alternates between the sanctuary and the cry room at church, I read this comment as one that let me know my kid crying in church is not that big a deal. There are others who are up against much more in their life and trying to figure or sort things out- they are at church not listening to my kid crying or whining or flailing the bulletin about but, rather, they are listening for their answer in the word of the Lord. I read this as a reminder for me not to be self centered to think my child's disruption means that much it is but one thing going on amid everyone's journey when they are at church. I felt comforted and reminded that he is not the center of the universe but He who is God is the center of the universe.

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    20. What a self-ish outlook.

      EVERYBODY has struggles. Not just people who might be struggling with addiction, relationships, health and other spiritual issues. You aren't the only struggling one.

      Jesus said "Let the little children come to Me."

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    21. So glad you posted this, and so many have made good points about children being in worship. Great post to encourage parents of children of all ages. I do have one area I would disagree with, addiction is not an illness, it is what the bible calls the sin of idolatry. This may offend some and for that I am grieved. I have lived with addicts (drugs & alcohol) and there is a long sequence of bad choices that must be made in order to become an addict. I speak from experience, as I also started to turn to alcohol to deaden the nerves and deal with stress and heartache as a young adult. The Lord Jesus saved me before I became addicted. My choices at that time in my life all had one thing in common and I was at the center of my own universe and others didn't matter to me as much as I mattered. I now know the love of Christ in my life and can love because He has loved me. To esteem needs over my own is what Christ has taught me. My friends, we must use biblical definitions to apply scripture to our whole life. There are illnesses out there that we don't choose like cancer, m.s., diabetes etc. But no one sticks a gun to our head to make us drink until drunk or eat until a glutton, those are the choices we make.

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  9. Yes!Yes!Yes!A thousand times YES! As an ordained UCC minister, I cannot say enough how important this post is. Thank you!

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  10. I love, love, love this. We love having our children worship with us. And sometimes people ask why we don't send them to the children's program. Maybe I'll print out your post and hand it to those who ask! :-)

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  11. My mom used to take Cheerios in a tiny, little Tupperware container to worship as one of the Keep-the-kids-quiet supplies. My memories of sitting in the church balcony and nibbling my way through Cheerios, hymns, and sermons, still fills me with joy. I know Spirit was with me then. I know Spirit is with me now, whenever the memories come rushing back.

    Thank you for this wonderful article. This former church kid who needed a Cheerio bribe is now a minister who loves the sounds of wee ones in worship. With your permission, I shall share your words of wisdom with the young parents in my church who are so tired and worried each Sunday morning.

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    1. Yes, feel free to share!

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    2. I think brainwashing children into religious myth is shameful.

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    3. Then why on earth are you reading this blog, let alone commenting on it?

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  12. Thanks for this! A Facebook friend linked to your post and I love it! My baby has reached the stage of wanting to shriek along with the choir, so this was nice to read this morning.

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    1. My granddaughter likes to babble out loud when the pastor pauses for breath. I think she believes he has talked long enough and it is her turn. She also likes the shriek with the worship music. I am sure god appreciates their enthusiasm :)

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  13. What is equally important is that the congregation is learning- learning not to be invested in making an idol of "perfect" worship.....

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    1. Absolutely. Often when we're focusing so hard on making things neat and tidy, a pretty picture from the outside, we can miss the Spirit among us.

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  14. I'm sorry but it's QUITE rude to bring young children into the services, especially when there's Sunday school available. Your misbehaving children may be the reason that 10 people decide not to come back because they can't worship peacefully. Just saying.

    Please be respectful and use the children's classes available during the service.

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    1. Are those 10 people conformed to the image of the One who said "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven"? (Matt. 19:14)

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    2. Let them go.....

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    3. recognize, also, that not all churches have Sunday School during worship. Children making noise in service make us realize so many things we have to be thankful for.

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    4. Not every Church has a children's program. I grew up in a Catholic Church and your only option as a parent was to either bring them with you or deny them the chance to grow up in a Church. If you were in that situation like my parents were, which would you choose? I'm glad my parents chose to bring me.

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    5. Kids can't learn how to behave in church unless they are IN church. Jesus didn't turn them away, and we shouldn't either.

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    6. correct revsharkie. Please remember that children have just as much need to be in spaces to experience God as the rest of us in our brokenness. It is not about parents and their children being the center of the universe. It's about the fact none of us is the center of the universe and yet each of us is the center of God's creation. God wants us all to worship together; Warts, addictions, illnesses and sticky finger.

      Thank you for this post. I have often stated that children need to be in church so they can fully experience being in a worshipping community.

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    7. To the QUITE rude commet... You know that people like you are the exact reason that young parents and kids don't come to church anymore!! All are welcome! ALL! And by the way, I would rather have a half full church of young parents and children than a church full of people like you! Children are not the future of church, they are the church!

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    8. Wow, what Bible did you ever read? Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
      Maybe it's the hateful adults who need Sunday school...............let the children come and worship Jesus

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    9. Oh dear, it seems that God can only work in people's lives if it's quiet in that big brick building we've confined Him to once a week!

      If I want to sit quietly with God then I'll sit at home with Him. If I want to spend time with Him & a hundred of His other children then I'll go to church & hope it's not quiet &, frankly, dreary & lifeless. Because that is what church is supposed to be, all God's children being together, not the comfortable little club we've turned it into so we can tick a box (we've prayed, tithed, sang, worshipped, studied the Bible all in 1 swoop so we can sod off & do our own thing the rest of the week instead of going to house groups, Bible studies, prayer meetings etc.)

      Please take a look at your church next time you're there, look around and ask yourself, if Jesus was there, would he enjoy his time there with all the hussle & bussle of his family, or would he tear the place apart because we've made it our "sanctuary" rather than his family's home/meeting house?

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    10. Friend, next time you're in church please look around and ask yourself, if Jesus walked in to the Sunday service, would he be happy with it & sit quietly like everyone else, or would he "clear the temple" because the members have made it a "sanctuary" to feel safe & comfortable in, rather than a meeting house for all His children of all ages & maturities to come together & worship Him simply by being there. God wants us there with all of our baggage wether that's an addiction or many addictions, or just because we're a noisy, bouncy little toddler!

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    11. One reason why I took my children to services with me is because I wanted them to learn at a deeper level than the same Bible stories year after year. MOST denomination's Sunday School programs have not been updated in years. (Take a look at the artwork on your children's Sunday School papers and then look at the copyright date.) Children can learn more than the story of Adam and Eve, Noah, Joseph, and a few stories about "Jesus going to church" (btw, He didn't go to church, He went to synagogue!) All three of my grown children are serving the Lord now and they all loved to hear the pastor preach and teach from the pulpit. After church on Sundays we discussed the sermon. Years later they still remembered things the pastor taught.

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  15. I don't think the author is referring to misbehaving children. I think she's talking about kids behaving appropriately for their ages. Most (not all, I realize) parents remove misbehaving children when necessary. How are kids going to learn how to behave during worship if you never take them? And if 10 people decide not to come back, then maybe it's not the right community for them. We are ALL part of the Body of Christ.

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    1. Touche! There is a difference between children naturally exploring their world in a childlike manner, (they are children,afterall!), and those who are unruly and need to be taken out into the hall and disciplined. Discipline by definition is "to teach" so bring them, teach them.

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  16. I'm reprinting this in our monthly newsletter. It's soooo important. Thank you!

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  17. I'm reprinting this in our church newsletter. It's soooo important. If it's okay for children to be there when they are not perfect, then it's okay for US to be there when we're not perfect. And that is grace. Thank you.

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  18. Even though my own children are well past the stages of church childhood development and are in fact adults. I vividly remembered being so excited when I could read and sing most of the words of a hymn nearly in time with the rest of the congregation.

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  19. There are kid noises that are wonderful and remind the rest of us that there is new life in the church. And, there are shrieking infants who, are feeling miserable because they are hungry, sick, or uncomfortably messy. This is a gray zone, and like the rest of the world it is not either right/wrong, black/white, left/right. Parents of shrieking unhappy children are just as miserable as the child and everyone around them. Feel free to take care of your kids.

    Otherwise move them upfront where they can watch what is happening, let them greet their community, make a joyful noise during the hymns, and soak in the ambiance of the beautiful people and art that surrounds them. They have been marked and sealed as Christ's own forever.

    Thank you, that Mom for writing such a thoughtful piece. I am an Episcopal priest and could not agree more.

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  20. I recall, at the age of 5, being taken outside to the car and spanked because I was fidgety in my grandparent's Baptist church. They had just removed me from my mother as a result of neglect. Now, at the age of 43, I look back and realize that my battle with religion began in those moments. Thank you for writing this. The message a small child receives can be far more damaging than a parent could imagine.....and have far deeper consequences than simply interrupting the worship of an adult on any given Sunday morning.

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    1. Wow, thank you for sharing that. It's a reminder of the impact our behavior has on our kids, particularly within the context of church. We can create a welcoming, safe place or an uncomfortable, challenging place... or worse!

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    2. My battle with religion began as a kid too.
      I grew up poor. One step up from welfare and there was a church that did a charity for us poor people by having a van pick up kids and take them to church and sunday school.
      My parents couldn't go because they needed to work so we could afford all our bills, but we went when we remembered.
      And I will never forget that the sunday school teacher told me (i was around 7) that my parents were sinners because they didn't come to church and that God would punish them for it and that I didn't love Jesus enough because I missed sunday school sometimes because we missed the bus.
      It's no wonder that I've never really felt comfortable or welcome in church since then.

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    3. It surely is no wonder. That's awful, and I'm so sorry you went through that.

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  21. I struggled taking my oldest to church. Now I am working on teaching my youngest two to listen, learn and enjoy the service, while my oldest follows along, sings and listens. It took time, and I was also nervous about his behavior, but now he participates in the service and takes away important lessons. I am very proud of all three of them. But, they still act 'crazy' from time to time ;)

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  22. I remember how hard it was taking my oldest to church and being embarrassed by those small moments. Now he follows along, sings and listens. Currently, I'm doing my best to get his younger brother and sister to get to that point! It takes time and now I hardly remember his silliness. I am proud of all 3 of them.

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  23. One little guy attending my church recently shook my hand on the way out and handed me a picture he'd drawn, with words on it that made it pretty clear he'd been paying attention. Meant more to me than a thousand "Good sermons" from the adults.

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  24. I could not agree with this more. As a UCC Pastor, I have struggled through my entire career to convince parishioners that it is perfectly alright for kids to be in worship. Sending them off to Sunday School, or not having them in worship at all teaches them that what we are doing upstairs is not for them. If they don't learn how to be in church when they are little, they never will. The church I currently attend has the children through the entire service. We do have a place for more spirited children and their parents to retreat to; but they can still see and hear the service.

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  25. Although I whole-heartedly encourage children in church, I think we have overstepped the bounds a bit in some cases. We
    have many children who attend church and make noises (sometimes even fussing) where it is a temporary noise (less than 10 minutes say). There are other children who run up and down the aisles, in and out of pews of others and shriek not because this age appropriate, but because in some cases parents choose not to intervene. I understand parenting is exhausting. I understand children make noise...joyful and unhappy. I also believe that I need to worship, hear the sermon and the readings. I cannot possibly be the best parent I can be without that worship. I have brought my children from when they both were less than a week old. They did not always behave. Sometimes they had tantrums. In those cases I removed us temporarily from the mass until they calmed down (which also helped me respond in a less panicked and more thoughtful manner). We are teaching children to worship. Part of this is respect for all - young and old. We are not teaching them that they can be there at the expense of everyone else. I think it is all about balance. Adult parishioners respecting that there will be occasions when children make noise and are loud. Parents recognizing that sometimes the child is disruptive and needs a break. It doesn't have to be the children or the "other" parishioners. It can be everyone that loves Jesus and wants to learn, worship and renew.

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    1. Well said.

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    2. I have never been in a church where kids were unruly for 10 minutes. Nor, have I have been in a service where children are running through the aisles. This clearly is a discipline issue and should be addressed by the parents or by the pastor of the church. That type of behavior is disruptive and inappropriate in a service. Worship means to show reverence and adoration. Children should be welcome to Worship with the church family. However, it should be a given that a disruptive child be taken out of the service.

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  26. I don't have children of my own, and I was raised with expectations that I'd sit up straight and quiet through the service, no matter how much the wool tights itched and the dress shoes pinched. When I returned to church in my late 30's, after a 10-year absence, I was surprised to see that behavior and dress codes had relaxed. But then I started to realize that I had gained several honorary nieces and nephews as I began to join the parish community. Off and on over the past 20 years I've taught church school and helped with children's programs - and adapting to the realities and delights of kids in church has made me a better person. It is nice when kids are shown positive options ("This is how we pray, see how we walk more slowly") and when there are meditative activities (like weaving or coloring or playing with clay during the sermon) so they can become part of the community while meeting their own developmental needs. After all, the behavior of adults isn't exactly perfect, and overhearing whispered gossip or criticism does a lot more to spoil my Sunday morning than the sound of sneakerbeats in the aisles.

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  27. I wish someone had told me this when they were younger! Please take a moment and tell people thank you for bringing their kids to church. My son has severe adhd and we didn't go to church for a long time because I felt like we were such a distraction. Or if we did he was in the nursery and we'd hurry out. He touched more than one cookie afterwards and when people complained, I was mortified. His hands were so fast. He would say the craziest things during childrens moments and could never sit still in the pew. Or be quiet. I wish I could go back and calm my upset stomach full of trepidation and just look at his squirmy little body and take joy. But, he's only 8 now and I am making up for lost time! We are in a much more child-friendly church - because of him, and our whole family loves it!

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    1. thank you for these words. I was blessed to have two children- your words duplicate situations with my youngest. Now we have custody of our 4 year old grandson & he too has these same tendencies. We were SOOOOO fortunate to find a church that appreciates the children, while offering encouraging directions when they are needed. (not too many but enough). I appreciate the other children who provide friendship and gentle reminders too - amazing what influence children have on other children. [J in Ohio]

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  28. This is fantastic! Thanks so much for writing it! My husband and I are both pastors and we have three kids who go to worship every week. We are also blessed to be in a church that holds Sunday School at a separate time from worship because children are not only included, but expected to participate in worship with their families. Our children will never learn how to worship if they're not welcome to join the rest of the family of faith. And we can all learn from them as the Spirit moves through all of us. It's the simplest "church growth" approach around -- bring your kids to church!

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  29. thank you so much! I wish more people would see what you see..especially when my one year old is amazed, in the middle of a peaceful moment in church, by the LIGHTS!

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  30. Count me as a pastor who says THANK YOU for stating this so well. I have a quote from Martin Luther taped to the wall that I see every week before I enter the pulpit: "When I preach I regard neither doctors nor magistrates, of whom I have above forty in my congregation; I have all my eyes on the servant maids and on the children. And if the learned men are not well pleased with what they hear, well, the door is open." Tell the truth!

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  31. I'm a father of young kids, and, yes, I appreciate this. However, it isn't parents who need to be told this. The problem is not that parents don't know that children are important in church. The problem is non-parents who find children a burden in church and give cues to that effect. Like the man who none to subtly told my wife (not me!) to please remove the kids to the cry room, because they disturbed his needed quiet worship space. If the "rest" of the church knew that children and their noisiness were an integral part of worship, then parents wouldn't have to be convinced by good articles like this one.

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    1. Maybe instead of having a cry room they should have a quiet room.

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    2. I couldn't agree more. Most parents understand all of these points - although I greatly appreciate hearing them!! If they didn't, they wouldn't be bringing their kids to church to hear the Word; they wouldn't be attempting to worship as a family. The problem is that so many people attending worship services seem to find children, at the least, annoying and at the worst, an evil that distracts them from being able to achieve some perceived necessary level of contemplative worship that seems to require quiet.

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  32. I'm a priest. I love this whole post. May I put it on the church website?

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    1. Sure! Please include link and credit the blog as the source.

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  33. Amen,amen, amen, amen!!! The body of Christ was never meant to be segregated.

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  34. One of my fondest memories is of a priest new to his congregation interrupting his sermon for a moment to reassure the anxious parents of happily noisy little ones that it was okay because he was used to "preaching with children swinging from his stole as they made a joyful noise unto the Lord."

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  35. I was that mom, too. In the 80's, when things were a bit more uptight Luckily, I belonged to a small congregation, and the pastor asked parents to sit up front so the kids could see what was going on. As my kids got older, they became acolytes and assisting ministers. They are grown now, and are still people of faith. Now, as a grandmotherly type person, I never begrudge small children - anywhere. I smile when babies cry, or toddlers run around - in church, at a restaurant, anywhere. They entertain me, and I always smile at their parents.

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  36. Deuteronomy 29:10-13, Deuteronomy 31:12-13

    Children being in worship with all ages is instructed in God's word. Thank you so much for this lovely post!

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  37. Beautifully stated "that mom"! My pastor has been saying this for years! Along with children are the church of today, not just the church of the future. God bless!

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  38. I love this, and plan on "sharing" it to encourage other friends with young children to not be scared to take them to services! Our ELCA congregation went many years with too few children in church, so when we had a "baby boom" of 5 little girls born within 3 weeks (one of them being mine!), we were quickly reassured of how welcome they were! These same girls are all turning 6 this summer, and have been followed by younger siblings and others who feel more welcome because the congregation is so happy to have them. We've added more toys to the Parish Hall, more high chairs and changing tables, and now have the children help collect "loose change" offering each week (which goes to projects the Sunday School chooses). The result is a dynamic, mulit-generational family of faith where the children are welcomed and treasured. I hope the same for others who make the effort to better include the children in their congregations!

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  39. I was so blessed last week to sit in church and see my son and his beautiful wife there with their children beside them. Not the most perfect day, things had gone wrong in the kitchen as they were preparing food for the potluck that followed the service. But they were there, each with a child next to them, smiling down on the the little faces that were smiling back at them as they sang and worshipped together.

    Thankful for a church that loves kids!

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  40. In my mid-age I am currently just now getting over being a child at church. There is a great chance that the people you are bringing to the service are not in fact, christian, and therefore layers upon layers of guilt, sorrow and myth are being placed on their minds.

    I was raised catholic, and in my youth I believed the bible to be empirical truth. I believed that god murdered humanity with a flood, but found one human among the fray to place two of every animal he could find in an ark to save the creation that was not so sinful as to be destroyed by god. I believed that my soul was in dire jeopardy, and that god had created a place of fire and brimstone to torture my body and eternal soul for an unending amount of time, if I did not in fact believe the 2000+ yr old text to be divine. I believed that I would live eternally, and so I didn't take immediate focus on how I lived in the very moment.

    It took years to heal my mind of these enormous fears, and I could not reconcile the god who murdered Egyptian babies, the god to destroyed mankind, and the god who used magic like raining frogs and burning bushes, to the new testament god (who did not align with the latter). It was only when I realized that these were myths and allegorical stories was I then free to live without a dire need for empirical truth and that there was a non-universal understanding of god that needed no definition to be true or not.

    I was a child in church, and my parents thought they were doing me a huge service by bringing me to teachers who also believed these stories they were retelling to also be empirical truth. I have forgiven them for bringing me there, because they thought it was in my best interest. I now, as a mindful adult, know that hell is not real. I know that god did not use a burning bush as a microphone. I know that gay people are not to be oppressed by the religious. I was a child who was too young to know any better. I'm an adult now, and can deal with my human death, instead of needing a heaven. I'm a grownup who will not allow allegorical text to teach my daughter that there is such thing as sin, that one religion is righter, and that I will look down from heaven or up from hell as she lives out her human life. I couldn't possibly put all that on a child.

    Humans should only go to church, when they are given a direct choice. Humans should also have a true sense that they may currently misguided in the constructs of their own religions. There are children being raised in other religions on the planet as I type this, who are being taught reincarnation, jihad, and that thetans inhabit the human being and need to be purged. Greek children knew that Zeus looked down from Mount Olympus and pitied human kind.

    Children, if they are brought to church, should be brought when they ask their parents. There is not a single soul who has heard the voice of god, so church should be treated as any other place of worship: a place where mystical questions are openly questioned, and human understanding of the divine is opaque at best.

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    1. What is the "better" to know, if there is no sin? What is the "should?" Where is the oppression? Nothing matters if there is no God, or if god is only what each invents. One might defy God, defy nature, defy knowing "better" - to no real consequence. There is, then, no wrong to judge in tormenting children with fearsome theology. Certainly no more than embracing a behavior that unleashed a disease that torments and kills children's physical bodies, right here on earth.

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    2. I second this. I was raised Christian and, though I'm not bitter (anymore) about my parents making that decision for me, it was the cause of a lot of unnecessary psychological strain throughout my early life.

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  41. Thank you for this post! I am sharing it

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  42. As the mother of a 21 month old I need to hear this often! It is a challenge, but one that is so worth it. We have found a church where we are constantly receiving praise for brining our daughter to church and being told how much they love hearing her additions to the service. There has not been a quiet Great Thanksgiving/Communion since we started attending but I have not heard one complaint.
    We do take her to Sunday School for most of the service, but the children are all brought down for Communion each week so she is learning about worship at a young age in a small dose.
    Thank you for the reminder and encouragement!

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  43. thank you for your wonderful explanation and sharing your thoughts - just discovered your blog through a FB link from our church - wonderful!!!

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  44. AS a pastor, I take great delight in my young children in worship and encourage their participation as much as possible. We have a little note to parents in the front of our worship bulletin that begins with "God put the wiggle in children. Do not feel the need to suppress it here." I have let children as young as 2-3 year olds 'help' me with the offering, stand with me to sing the closing hymn, etc. When I have no acolyte - which is most of the time - I have a couple of kindergarten-aged children who love to light the candles, with a little assistance of course. They know that they are welcome and I refer to them as my "Assisting Ministers in Training." It takes the pressure off parents, lets the children see and be a part of what is going on. Chaotic at times? Sure. But so much more the body of Christ.

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  45. As a pastor, I take great delight in the young children who are such an important part of our worship. We have a little note to parents in the front of our worship bulletin that begins with "God put the wiggle in children. Do not feel the need to suppress it here." I have let children as young as 2-3 years old 'help' me with the offering, stand with me to sing the closing hymn, etc. When I have no acolyte, I have a young man of kindergarten age that gets so excited about lighting candles (with a little assistance, of course) that he literally runs up front to help. They know that they are welcome and an important part of our life together. I refer to them as my "Assisting Ministers in Training." It takes the pressure off parents, lets the children see and be a part of what is going on. Chaotic at times? Sure. But so much more the body of Christ.

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  46. Thank you so much for writing this...I would very much like to include it (duly attributed, of course) in our parish magazine. Might that be possible? I really want my folk to read it....

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    1. Absolutely. Please just credit the blog as source.

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  47. We brought our kids to church with us, when they graduated from the nursery. And at times they were a bit disruptive. I don't mind children being children. But when parent sit there with a child who is going on and on in a loud, outside voice so that I cannot even hear the sermon or the prayers, what am I doing there? Sitting in Church when I can't hear a word of the service is not very helpful for me. And I can't see how it is helpful for the parents. Like most things in life there needs to be a balance. If a child is being so loud or disruptive that others cannot follow the service, that child should be taken outside by their parents.

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  48. Yes,having children in church services is important....IF they are being taught how to respect the one preaching and those who are listening. In our church SOME take their children out when they are noisy,but instead of disciplining and bringing them back into the service,they stay out in the hall and let the kids run around or sit in the foyer so both are missing the service! It sends a message to the child that if they misbehave,mom/dad will take them out to play. We have a room with a one-way window that was made specifically for training young children how to sit through services,or the parent to use if the child is having a bad day. The service can be heard through speakers in that room. Most do not use it. Nor do some like to use the nursery,because they don't like anyone but themselves caring for their children. We who have grown children have been where the young parents are today,teaching our children how to act in God's house...consistence is the key!

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  49. Well said, Alan. I agree whole-heartedly. Souls are literally hanging in the balance during every service. The person in front of you is TRYING to hear the Word of God and if your precious darling is screaming so loud that they cannot hear the Word, and they are lost, you are inhibiting their hearing, and you will be held responsible. Anybody with sense will discreetly walk the child out to the foyer so the minister can deliver the message. I have no problem with kids being "kids", but there are times of reverence that must be honored in every service.

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  50. Thanks again for this! I shared it with my readers just now right here---

    http://www.weakandloved.com/2013/05/best-of-this-week.html

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  51. Thanks for your post. I hope to use it in future Baptismal preparation classes for parents. In preparing parents for the Baptism of their children I always mention that if they were invited to a family meal, Thanksgiving or Easter let's say, I would hope they wouldn't not go because of their children. Worse yet, they wouldn't leave their children behind. I sometimes say- "You have to put up with your children, they're a part of our family so then should we have to put up with them." "Don't ever not come to church because of your children. We need them to be here, we need you to be here."
    When parishioners complain about the noise of children during the Mass I usually say something like, "Isn't it wonderful that they were here with their parents?" I'd rather have children in church, knowing that their parents are there. One day a grandmother was shushing her grandson who was making child noises, all throughout the Mass. She came to the sacristy to apologize for the child. I just said that what he was doing was cute, what she was doing was annoying. She still comes to Mass. More importantly, as a young man so does he. There are all kinds of noises that come out of the mouths of children. Yes, a child misbehaving may need to be disciplined, but how wonderful is it when they cry or sing or make noise along with the congregation. How great when they make a noise to remind us that they're there, when they remind us that church isn't just about being adult, that Church is about being family. It's also about being children of God.

    Mark 10: 13-16
    And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child* will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

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  52. Thank you so much.....we have been attending a very small fellowship.....and one group (which welcomed little kids) dissolved which sent us back to the former group.....I was approached on my 2nd week back by a person who effusively asked me what I had done with my children because it was SO WONDERFUL that they were so quiet so as they were hardly noticeable.....this was after drilling them on the need for silence and stillness for days and shushing them multiple times. And the fact of the matter is my children do not feel welcome there, but there aren't other suitable options at this time.

    I so very much wish people would learn this and actually welcome children instead of ACTIVELY discouraging them and their families from coming.

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  53. During one Sunday service when my son was about three years old...he blurted out at the top of his lungs "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall"...for no apparent reason! But once was not enough..he yelled it over and over again...I gave my husband "that look" and he scooped him up and we could hear the phrase over and over growing more distant...Once was okay (but a little embarrassing!) but to allow it to continue would have been disrespectful to those in prayer and worship...balancing the needs and realities of ALL generations is the key! It is a funny memory now and no one ever made us uncomfortable for bringing our children to our Episcopal church. That little boy is now a 26 year old attorney and a man of faith!

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  54. excellent !!!!!

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  55. Beautiful!! Well said! Bravo. :)

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  56. AMEN, amen - the Body of Christ includes children!! As a pastor-mom of three grown sons, I remember well the Sunday mornings I worshiped with three squirming boys alongside me, often by myself as my husband worked shift work. I began seminary when they were 3, 6, and 9 - honestly, not to get a pew to myself!! I love having children in church - we have Children's Bibles in every pew as one way to let everyone know that children are part of our congregation. As others have requested, may I share this with others in our congregational newsletter?

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  57. Can I have permission to reprint in our parish newsletter - with attribution, of course?

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    1. Yes, please include blog name and link.

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  58. What a great article and so true. Thank you for articulating it so well. I would like to share it with my parishes in our bulletin, with credit to the source and author, would that be permitted?
    Thank you

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    1. Yes, please include blog name and link.

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    2. Thank you, will do. I remember in one of my former parishes an elderly woman, telling that when she hears her peers complaining aobut a child in churhc, she reminds that they were young once nad filled with energy and to be glad that they and their parents are there.

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  59. Thank you and amen! I am also married to a pastor and we just brought our 2 year old son home from Moscow 6 months ago. We've kept him in the "pew" (chair aisle) with us since the first time he was in church and although I KNOW we are doing the right thing, it is so refreshing to be encouraged by another mom. Thank you! I wrote a similar post when we started our journey (http://www.addingaburden.com/2013/02/pew-parenting.html) and I'm going to share yours on my FB page. Thank you again!

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  60. Beautifully and accurately written. Parents should never forget the importance of starting their children on a good path. Thank you for expressing it so well.

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  61. This is such a beautiful post. I wish everyone in our church could read it. Sadly, today we had zero children in church--not in the early service, not in the 11 o'clock service.

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  62. Like many others who have commented, I'm a pastor who loves having children - of all ages in worship. I've preached with a 2-year old firmly affixed to my right leg for almost the entire sermon. He got away from his grandfather and headed straight for me! When the grandfather started to get him, I assured him and the rest of the congregation that I loved having a child want to stand in the pulpit with me.

    Last year, a three-year old girl in the congregation was going to put her family's offering in the plate. She was so excited that she was literally dancing in the pew! Our invitation to give an offering always ends with the words "Let us give with joy!" now thanks to Emma's joyful gift to God's church.

    And in this blog on the behavior of little ones in worship, let me say that the same kinds of things may happen with people of all ages with developmental disabilities or with dementia or with neurological damage. Please, let's exhibit God's grace when these folks are part of our family of faith too.

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  63. Great post. Having raised 3 children into young adults that now" behave "in church, I found being consistent in attendence worked for us. After my kids weren't little enough for nursery 4 -5 years, we brought them in with us. If you need to take one out to have a little chat about being still or quiet, come right back in. If you go home I would think the child could act up just to get to leave, defeating the purpose. Parents who struggle with noisy messy babies...in church, you and your child are as necessary to our church as anyone. God can work around a little disruption and might use it for good...actually God's word tells us he will. All things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.

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  64. Some of the reason for the “two sides” to this issue is that those who have children tend to become accustomed to their own children’s disruptive behaviors, and that can sometimes lead to the parents no longer seeing certain things as distracting. The other "side" (those without children or who have not been around young children for decades) can be overly sensitive to every noise or action. Both “sides” have to recognize their own blind spot with respect to this issue.

    Children have to practice “public” behavior, and parents have to teach that what may be allowed in their own home is actually not behavior that is acceptable in church since a larger “family” with diverse needs is present while at church or other places that are public in nature. Children do not instantly learn how to behave in “public” but if they are only getting to practice for an hour or less one day a week while at church, then there will be problems.

    Also, if adults who are disturbed by every noise or action don’t recognize that practice is required in order to behave in pubic, there will be problems, too. They, too, should practice, but their practice is about learning to focus in spite of some levels of distraction since having absolute silence while concentrating isn't likely for every situation for most human beings.

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  65. I love this post. My 5yo daughter has special needs,plus some attachment issues (she was adopted from China) and we are at a new church plant without an "official" nursery. There have been people who volunteered to watch her, but more often than not, they've had to come get either my husband or me b/c of our little one's anxiety. So she usually ends up in church with us. I used to stay home with her almost every Sunday b/c hubby led worship at the time, so I had NO weekly gathering with fellow believers. That helped push me into a serious crisis of faith. Then hubby was able to step down from some of his roles b/c we got new leadership (thank God.) Also, I should say my hubby is NOT a minister-he is a nurse who works five days a week, plus one night, so his church leadership roles are volunteer. But, back to our family...now I've been able to get back into church and my faith has been strengthened and restored. Our fellow church members and our pastor are very supportive and WANT us there, even though my daughter claps and sings and talks in the middle of the sermon. In fact, they see her as a blessing and as an uninhibited worshiper. :) So thank you for this post. It is needed.

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  66. I especially appreciate this portion and believe that it's an equally important reminder for grownups struggling to find their comfort re faith:

    "It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community."

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  67. A carseat is just that. Leave it in your car and just hold your child! They will be much more happy being held.

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    1. I'm happy to say that many of our parents with wee ones can be seen wearing them through church. I've also been known to help with carrier adjustments or learning how to use your baby carriers after church. One step at a time with love and grace.

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  68. Thank you. I wish more people spoke up about having kids in church. To our family there is no nursery because we also believe that even young children need to learn how to worship with others and by having those tough moments in church they learn to respect the others worshiping along side of our family. They are also seeing the example we are setting in their young lives about the importance of worshiping with our church family.

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  69. Wow, this is an awesome post!! And I completely agree!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  70. I love this post! Love it! And I have really enjoyed reading the comments as well, especially those from priests/ministers who have found ways to incorporate the little ones into the celebration of worship. As a parent of wee ones, I can appreciate the need for quiet contemplation as much as the next worshipping soul! However, I do think it is worth looking at how our services are structured to meet the needs of babes and contemplatives, alike. Certainly, "family services" could make concessions to make worship more "endurable" for the younger parishioners and their parents, and "contemplative" services could provide more structure and formality to the worship environment.

    Luckily for my children, my husband is the one who gathers the three offspring up and cajoles them into relative submission for worship in our Episcopal church every Sunday. I have given up; I end up making paper airplanes out of the bulletins along with the kids when I go, so I attend when my children are singing with the choir and support the programs that are meaningful to me. I am grateful that our church welcomes the spirit (and resulting sound!) of the little people, but wish that it was CHURCH that changed to welcome the children, rather than having the children constantly being "taught" to act completely un-childlike as soon as church is on the agenda.

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  71. I love this. In a former church (with barely any children) we had one baby who, every week at some point, would begin to scream and cry. I would remark about how wonderful his voice was, what a miracle he was. Dad didn't want to send him to the nursery, and I didn't blame him - his wife, the mother of the baby, was dying of breast cancer when the baby was born (extremely premature). It was literally a miracle that he was alive.

    Later, we had two foster children who had never had any structure in their lives, let alone sitting through church. They were quite noisy to begin with, and there were several people who were very nasty about the whole thing. But there were also some wonderful people in the church who reached out with the love of Christ to these two children (and to my wife).

    It's a good reminder that our worship is more than sitting and listening to a sermon. Our worship might also include how we treat the least, the lost, the littlest among us.

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  72. How timely this is. My husband and I took our three grandsons to our new church a couple of Sundays ago. The boys are 5, 4 and 3 and have never sat through a church service because our "old" church had a nursery that kept them busy during worship time. Our "new" church is a much older congregation...no children in church (I know...signs of a dying church). We left before the preaching started and I vowed I wouldn't take them back to disturb others. But you are so right. They have no responsibility greater than being 5, 4 and 3 and LEARNING how to worship. They'll never learn if they're not exposed. THANK YOU for reminding this grandma that I took the time (and patience) to teach their parents and I CAN do it all again. HUGS

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  73. Thank you so much for writing this! I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 7 mos. old. Getting through church every week is a struggle. My husband and I often think "Why did we bother??" Especially when we leave and I didn't get to hear more than a few words. It is so reassuring to have people come up to us after church to say our kids did well, or they remember going through this too. It IS hard and tiring! It also really bothers me when parents judge other parents. "I will give my kids a coloring book, but I would NEVER give them food in church" Please! Aren't we all there for the same reasons? I will try whatever I can! One week a woman there with her granddaughter patted me on the shoulder after an especially crazy week. And I said "I'm not sure why we came this week. I didn't hear a word, and all of us were miserable." She said "God sees you. He knows your heart, and he sees you trying." I will never forget it.

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  74. I like this article. I think it holds a lot of truth that needs sharing.

    I would also like to say that the sweet and dear children in my church who throw there crayons back and forth to each other, run up and down the aisles during the sermon, write on their dry-erase boards how bored they are and turn around and show it to everyone behind them, and who talk very loudly for the ENTIRE service are very, very distracting to me and many others.

    It's not going to change in my church and I'm NOT for asking parents to not bring their children, that's ridiculous.

    So, what was my solution? I moved to the second row and I don't have to watch those behaviors (albeit, I do have to work hard to tune out the yelling from one child). Also, when I find myself wanting to scream louder than the child is yelling, I quickly change my train of thought to prayer for that single mother who is having difficulty with her two boys who are ... well, just LOUD and distracting. I sure she needs my prayers more than anything. A couple of mothers her age have offered to sit with her during church to help her manage and that's helping somewhat.

    I think we should all work very hard to have patience with each other and to love each other more. The children SHOULD be in church and mild disruptions should be overlooked. Major ones which are not going to be addressed or fixed should be overlooked as best they can.

    The major distractions/disruptions are not cute nor will they ever be cute. But, children have to learn and adults have to be patient and loving and tenderhearted.

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  75. Thank you. I have ms and i an in a wheelchair. Getting myself and my daughter to ch urch is hard on days my husband has to work. She is 5 and loves to go learn about GOD

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  76. Great post! Very encouraging to me! :)

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  77. We have a great church that focuses on home discipleship (it even has "Family" in the name! ;) ). So there are definitely tons of kids, plus tons of moms pulling their hair out trying to keep the kids quiet. I've been "that" mom so many times, saying, "Why do I even bother going to church? I don't get anything out of it!" I just have to remind myself that the kids don't stay young that long, even though it often feels like it. My oldest ones do better in church all the time; my first born is even starting to hear portions of the sermon occasionally. :) As with every aspect of parenting, it's rough now, but it will all pay off in the end (if we survive, right? ;) hehe).

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  78. Can't find a way to easily share this post which I'd love to do (on twitter/facebook) am I missing it?

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    1. You can copy the direct link from your browser. Or you can find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/Iamtotallythatmom or Twitter www.twitter.com/hippypastorwife for easily shareable links. Unfortunately, I don't have share buttons on the bottom of posts. I will work on that. The blog wasn't prepared for the traffic it has received.

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  79. This is awesome! I do believe that children learn more from being in the pew; in the service, than in a Sunday school room separate from the rest of the family. Please do pray for us as a family; that my husband will see the benefit, the need, for our children to be with us to worship! :)

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  80. Great post! As a convert and mother of now adult sons, I heartily heartily concur!!!

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  81. This was sent to me BY my pastor as an encouragement. I have a son with autism and can be loud and disruptive, I'm so thankful for posts like this and for pastor's like mine :) Blessings to you.

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  82. I cannot thank you enough for this because I am that mum and boy do I struggle with what I perceive people to think about us being in church with or 4, 2 &6 month old. Thank you Jesus that you embrace us even when we feel others may not x

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  83. Thank you; after a rough Sunday, this is just what my mama heart needed to hear! I just need to remember that as I'm bouncing the baby that the three year old (who used to require bouncing and all kinds of discipline) sits so well and has started listening: when Pastor shouted, "We are more than conquerers!" she looked up and nodded sagely. "More crackers," she says, "more crackers."

    More crackers, indeed. :D

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  84. I love this! Thanks for the great reminder. I really am that mom at church! We have a lot of children at the service we go to and the pastor always encourages children of all ages to worship with us. That is one of the things that sold us on this church when we were looking for just the right place. Now, 2 children later, and 2 baptisms later, we have even been told by every single member of our families how wonderful our church is. Those untimed yells or whatever it may be are often times commented on as being part of the service by our pastor. Most Sundays, I leave church, with absolutely no idea what the topic of the day was, but know that Maggie will talk to me about it and I think that is wonderful, because, she is only 2.

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  85. I dragged my 3 year old out of church in the middle of the Mother's Day service - I wish I would have read this then. I know it matters, I really do. Sometimes, as you know - it's hard to see it with our own kids. Thank you for the kind encouragement.

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  86. I am sharing this on my blog's facebook page. It is perfect. I had pretty much decided to give up on taking my two year old son to church because I get nothing out of church when he is there because he acts up so badly. I feel bad because anyone within a mile of us also gets nothing out of church. This post makes me determined to keep on trying with him. Surely he will catch on one day.

    And he is learning. He loves to do the sign of peace and put the money in the basket. He is quick to point out "Gigi" on the cross. He knows that we say prayers when we are in church. Thanks for making me not feel so alone and like everyone in the church is staring at me with condemning eyes. It is even harder because my son is a very spirited child and that makes him that much louder, hyper, determined than some of the other kids who surround us in church. But I need to just keep on keeping on.

    www.adventureswithcaptaindestructo.com

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  87. Our church is family integrated. Our main focus is FAMILY unity and discipleship. There are no Sunday School classes, no Youth groups, etc. We LOVE it! Yes, the babies cry. Yes, the toddlers are, well, toddlers. That's okay! It brings LIFE to the church! Children should not be forced to hide away from their parents, the congregation, or God in church! Of all places, this should be the one that they are most welcome! 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 never once said to ship them off to some other room. If adults don't like it, they are the ones who need to work on their own hearts. That said, there is some training to be done. People need to have grace and understanding when they see a parent working at training. How about lend a hand? There are, sadly, some parents who seem to have no clue what they are doing. Those wild kids who are not trained at say age 7, 8, 10, etc; THEY should be disciplined. If you have a situation like that, and the parents are not doing anything about it, then you elders need to step up and say something. That is a sin issue. The little ones, though, they cannot learn how to behave in church if never taught. We have too many kids going to "Six Flags Over Jesus" churches. It's nothing but FUN! When they grow up, they quickly learn that they can get the SAME fun on a Saturday night at a club or with friends rather than at church. Their relationship with God was never deep. They NEED to be able to worship like adults, and that takes training. Give them time, folks.

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  88. Along with the many others, I would like to include this in our Church Newsletter if I may, promising to give blog name and link as requested. Thanks in advance.

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  89. Along with the many others, I would like to include this in our Church Newsletter if I may, promising to give blog name and link as requested. Thanks in advance.

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  90. At the risk of getting body slammed by the rest of the supportive people here, can I just say (btw, I have a 4 y.o. boy and an 18-month old girl) that as a preacher, it is a little discouraging to hear a baby scream (or a toddler yell or talk a lot loudly) and watch 75% of the eyes (and attention) of the people in the room turn away from the sermon to the noise. I might as well stop talking and wait (I don't, but I feel like it). Does that make me self-centered? Everyone knows that when I start speaking I will speak for 20-25 minutes, and all would agree that this is an important part of the service, so a distraction-limited environment is helpful to everyone present. If we have (in our church of 100) 12 parents with 30 children, all trying to keep quiet, but not having any alternative place for them to go, then 42% of the congregation is tuned out of the sermon.

    There are also a lot of limitations on things I can preach about in the presence of children: abortion, abuse, sexuality, Hell, etc. If I'm expected to preach "the whole counsel of God," then what about this?

    I agree that children need to learn how to be in church, but they also need to learn that church is a fun place with age-appropriate teaching and activities. I'm not sure making them sit still, or frantically trying to keep them occupied (i.e., doing something other than what you're supposed to be doing - listening)is giving them the right impression of church.

    And are there no parents out there who kind of like a break from their kids from time to time, especially when it means you can actually pay attention to the message and music?

    As a parent, I am kind of glad there is a groundswell of support for this article and the thoughts it presents. I appreciate it as one who has felt the stares and tension from the insensitive. As a pastor, though, there is a tension about how to feel. The church I serve is very open and accepting of the "blessed" noise from the kids (but parents, would it kill you to just pack SILENT toys?!). I just don't think Sunday morning is the best place to test your parenting skills.

    Thanks for letting me rant!

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    1. Here is an example of how my pastor dealt with adult themed sermons 20 years ago. My parents kept my siblings and me in our worship service when we were growing up. On the rare instances when a questionable service came up, our pastor would make an announcement that the sermon might be considered inappropriate for children, and our parents would send us to children's church. It worked well and we attended the vast majority of sermons. Now that I am a parent (of very intelligent, inquisitive, and observant children who would know exactly what questions to ask me to make me uncomfortable,) I really appreciate how he handled that situation.

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    2. That is a good way to deal with especially sensitive subjects. My larger point is age-appropriateness: is a sermon an appropriate teaching tool for young children? Why do kids squirm, fuss, and whine? Because they are BORED. I think it's great to have all ages together for singing, the offering time, prayer time, and just about anything else except the sermon.

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    3. I can definitely appreciate your perspective. I think there is such a thing as balance. For instance, I love that our church has children's chapel during the sermon so that parents can focus on the actual sermon while the children hear the gospel on their own level. Then the children rejoin the congregation for prayers and communion. It gives children a place in the parish family without overwhelming them.

      As much as church would be so much easier if I left my son in the nursery after children's chapel, he would miss out on the chance to share our faith and how we practice it. There is something incredibly touching about seeing my son kneel (without prompting) before entering a pew or crossing before the altar. He wouldn't have that kind of comfort with our traditions without consistent exposure to the way we practice our faith.

      So to an extent you might need to take some kid noises as part of the joys of a multi-generational congregation. I understand where you're coming from though. Just take the noises as little reminders that you've been entrusted with the future of your church. The noisemakers that distract you today will be the tithepayers and evangelists of the future.

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    4. The churches that we attend (we live abroad and visit three different Christian families when back in Britain, three different forms of Christianity too) 2/3 have a children's church provision and my favourite arrangement is when the children spend the first part of the service in church, including a children's address, and then the groups separate for further discussion and study. The adults get a peaceful time when more complex concepts are presented to them, and chance to pray in silence too, and the children also get the chance to explore the same topic through more child-friendly channels. I like it when the groups then rejoin, particularly to have everyone together for communion. I don't see any harm in providing the 'study' part of the service in different locations and through differing techniques - sermon plus prayer, or colouring, cutting, sticking, storytelling and discussion - I'm sure there would be other types of discussion groups possible as well!

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    5. I understand your points. I think some of this has to do with church culture and style of worship. Many of the things you are discussing as far as preaching (and the depth that I imagine you want to approach them, because I don't think passing references would be inappropriate in a family-friendly service) are conversations we might have in Bible Study. In the church culture I come from, The Word of God proclaimed in worship is for all to hear. Bible Study is the place where we dig in to the Bible for well, study. It would not be age-appropriate for the children or adults to have children in many adult Bible study groups. Adults do need space for contemplative prayer, Bible Study, and other faith-based practices that are not age-appropriate for children. In my church culture, that's not worship.

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  91. This article is perfect for what we try to do at our church! I am the preacher, and my wife and our 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter sit together while they watch Daddy preach! I love the fact that we have 3 other young families who do the same! I know that it is an adjustment when you first start to preach with multiple generations present, and I had some adjusting to do myself, but it is so worth it to see the smiling faces on those little treasures of God! Some of them are actually getting brave enough to talk to me about the sermon too! This post will definitely be on our church Facebook page to encourage our families! Thanks! :)

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  92. Thank you. I have to admit that I have been struggling with my faith lately. I have been skipping church and letting my husband take our two girls without me. This has reminded me of the importance of church for their sake and I will definetly be there this Sunday!

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  93. Just posted this on facebook with your blog, it's awesome!~
    This is incredible, couldn't have said it better myself. I smile when I hear a child make noise at a time in mass when it's quiet. I know the parent is worrying, I smile! I never gave thought as to why this doesn't bother me but this author verbalized it beautifully!

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  94. You have chosen your words carefully and hit on a topic that many people are negative about, and your words of wisdom and love have gently led those people to the reason WHY some children--and their faithful, albeit weary parents--belong in church together where they can sit and touch and hug and feel that family connection and watch as genuine worship is modeled by their parents. Thank you for your compassionate perspective, and I hope it makes some detractors question their biases.

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  95. As the 2nd oldest of 13 kids, I know it's very possible to get children of any age to behave in Mass. A 6 month old crying is forgivable, but a 2 or 3 year old carrying on? Yeah right. In our super-materialistic saturated world we aren't disciplined and consequently our children aren't. All this blog post does is deaden people's conscience's to the crime against children which is not teaching them to behave.

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  96. I am also a pastor's wife and momma to two little boys (and boy #3 on the way!). Thank you for this post. I felt especially drained after church this past Sunday after an entire hour of my 3-yr-old frying my every nerve. And our church has no nursery, so not an option, even if I was interested. Our church family is so supportive and helpful, but it can still be stressful being the sole caretaker of little ones during a church service! Especially when they're the "preacher's kids," LOL.

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  97. I know that there is a place for kids in worship services. We have a church with a thriving children's ministry. We also have more than one service each Sunday morning, so we have Sunday School both hours too. I like that our church encourages children to attend the service once they start Kindergarten. But, I have to admit that it bothers me when very young children are brought into the service and are "very" disruptive. Just this past Sunday there was a couple who sat behind us. They had 2 small children with them. Throughout the first half of the service I could not hear anything that was going on due to the kids talking loudly. The parents were not trying to quiet them down. They were talking with them. They had several different toys they were throwing around and one of them kept running a car across the back of the pew and kept bumping into me with it. The parents were letting this continue. I am all for having kids in the service as long as the parents are actively trying to teach them to sit and not disturb the ones trying to listen. These parents were not doing that. They were letting their kids do whatever they wanted. That is when it becomes a problem to me. If the child becomes disruptive like that they should be quietly removed and the parent should take them out and discuss what they should be doing while in a service. I looked around and saw other kids in the service too, but their parents were teaching them how to sit and listen or had something quiet for them to look at or do. It can be done. I see it every week. I was wondering if the church could have a room set up, maybe the smaller chapel, to accommodate those that have small children who have not mastered the ability to sit and stay partly quiet. That way they could have the ability to "worship" as a family. That way the stress would be off the parent's to try and keep them totally quiet and there would be other families too and they would see that they are not alone. That is just my opinion. I am sure I will be blasted for it, but it is how I feel.

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  98. The negative comments are why I stopped taking my children (one of whom is autistic) to church, we tried to find a new one multiple times..but never felt welcome :( It's been so long now, it's unlikely we'll ever go back and it makes my heart hurt often. I wish this post was the way more people felt/churches acted, I mean isn't church meant to lift everyone up?

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  99. My dad says, "It's always funny when it's someone else's kid."

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  100. Great idea in theory and has a lot of good points, but not great when it becomes another standard of the truly spiritual. Then quiet kids in church just become another way for legalistic and self-righteous parents to pat themselves on the back while looking down their noses at those who can't do as well as they can. That, unfortunately, is the reality in too many churches.

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  101. As the Director of Youth Ministries and the mother of small children I see this from both sides. Thank you so much for sharing this. I see my kids fidgeting in the seats to my left and me shushing or trying to quiet them, and on my right I have my youth sitting and enjoying the worship. I love sitting in that pew.

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  102. This made me cry. I know exactly how it feels to be that mom. I am glad to not be alone and I also know how it is to see other mothers struggle in church. My church is overall welcoming and I wish that for everyone but I still struggle every sunday with my 3 childrens behavior.

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  103. What a great post! I couldn't agree more! Plus, I always love seeing other members of our congregation making faces at my 1 year old in the pew. Thanks for touching on such an important subject!

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  104. I am reading a lot of people are passing judgement on others.. that's not Christian..Jesus loves us all.. from addicts, to little babies..we are ALL his children. Do not judge others, as you are not walking in their shoes. You are all there to worship and give praise..and to love and ACCEPT one another.. have you not learned that lesson yet? Moms.. my children are 11 and 13 now.. it brings joy to me to see the little ones.. as I remember those days very well. I remember being embarrassed about their behavior.. please know that we have all been there..and know to overlook it.. it happens..and you will one day remember "that time".. and smile. ;)

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  105. When the children were babies and toddlers, I had them go to nursery. That way, their natural behavior would not be disruptive to others. At 4 years old, the church encourages them to go to worship on Sunday evenings, and then they are dismissed. It is nice because they get to learn about God on their level.... even middle schoolers struggled with the message many times. Also it gives me uninterrupted time to listen, where I don't have to worry about what they are doing.
    Now that the children are older we go to a different church. One that doesn't have a nursery and barely has children's church. Many times I do not like it.... My girls do pretty well during worship, but my son doesn't participate. He is mildly autistic and while he is usually very well occupied, we sometimes have issues. Last week he almost knocked over the projector, because he was moving a chair with his feet while laying on the floor. My husband and I have responsibilities during the worship portion, so I am not sitting next to him. Most of the time, the 3 of them go in a room for children's church during the rest of the service. Then I can relax!

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  106. There is room for both sides of the debate on children in church - normal low level childish behaviours should be tolerated, not just tolerated but accepted as a normal part of a community joining together in an activity. However children misbehaving should be taken out, and not taken out to run riot immediately outside but to have a conversation with their carer and then have their needs met - this need can be a 'run around' but that 'run around' should be outside or at a reasonable distance away from the worship activity - the child needs to see that respect is paid to the activity of worship and if their behaviour disrupts that activity they will be taken away from it so that the activity can be continued by others.
    The churches that we attend (we live abroad and visit at least three different Christian families when back in Britain, three different forms of Christianity too) 2/3 have a children's church provision and my favourite arrangement is when the children spend the first part of the service in church, including a children's address, and then the groups separate for further discussion and study. The adults get a peaceful time when more complex concepts are presented to them, and chance to pray in silence too, and the children also get the chance to explore the same topic through more child-friendly channels. I like it when the groups then rejoin, particularly to have everyone together for communion. I don't see any harm in providing the 'study' part of the service in different locations and through differing techniques - sermon plus prayer, or colouring, cutting, sticking, storytelling and discussion - I'm sure there would be other types of discussion groups possible as well!

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  107. I didn't read every single comment, but, of the ones I read, I'm surprised no one mentioned the research... A huge longitudinal study was done concerning children in church and whether they grow up to continue in their faith. The study showed that children who worshipped IN THE SANCTUARY with both parents were most likely to continue in their faith into adulthood... Children learn by example and their parents are their best teachers! The baby in my belly goes into worship with me now and will continue after he/she is born. On the flip side, I have a degree in child development and taught preschool for many years, and I think it is important that parents consider their child's limits.

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  108. Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this. It brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't agree with you more. :)

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  109. This was so beautifully written. Jesus said to let the little children come to Him and what better way for them to do so then in worship. Thankfully we attend a VERY kid-friendly church where a lot of families have five or more children (many 10yrs and under). Our pastor and his wife have eight children and find joy in hearing children making noise in the service. :-) I came from a church that was not as understanding though and can understand the other side as well. :-) This is such an encouraging post for moms and the entire church community. Thank you!

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  110. Thank you. As an adult with no children and a difficult time being places with a lot of people, I need to be reminded that this is not just my time to worship, but our time. I've been frustrated by children in church not behaving as I was brought up to (no colouring books, snacks, or noise, and sit up straight or you will get it when we get home). But worship is noisy, and colourful, and crazy. Thanks for the reminder.

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  111. Do you mind if I take this an adapt it slightly to communicate to our church body these ideas? We are really blessed to have a time of worship with the kids in with the congregation and then the kids are dismissed to have a children's sermon at their level. The majority of the kids participate in our children's church time. I love that we're able to have them sing with us and go through the "rhythm" of worship together before getting a Kid-designed message...
    We have some, though, that are bothered by the dancing, shouting, gold-fish eating 4 year olds in the room. We are blessed to have nearly 50 kids dismiss every Sunday...so yeah, it's going to be a little rowdy in there. God did not build them to sit still and be quiet. They love life and express their emotions with their bodies.
    Anyway, I'd like to adapt some of your comments to meet our church's personality for our family newsletter.
    Thanks for this post. It is excellent!

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  112. And then before you know it, they are off to college. They may not go every week, but it is so nice to hear when they call and say "Hey Mom, David and I (my two college kids) are meeting at church tonight".

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  113. Great commentary. I don't mind kids in worship at all. This humbled me though. I recently visited a church, where an autistic boy attended. It was children's church, and his parents were in worship. His IPad was blaring, and it was disturbing, but no one dared shut it off or turn it down in fear of him having a meltdown. A woman kindly took him to the side of the group, and managed to turn the IPad down and somewhat calm him. It passed, and the children's service went on. God bless that courageous woman. She did not remove him from the experience, she had the guts to show him compassion, and, that he is certainly welcome at church. Everyone is loved, and longed for, by our awesome God.

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  114. My dad is the pastor of our congregation so until myself and my older siblings were old enough to assist, my mom had to deal with all of our rambunctious behavior on her own during the service and to this day myself and my other old-enough-to-be-helpful siblings are often ushering, acolyting, singing in choir, or even playing the organ. On even given Sunday my amazing mother will come away from the service having heard almost nothing from the sermon and might end up having to take a screaming four year old our back until she calms down after her six year old brother ruined her picture. Even so, our whole family is there every Sunday, baring sickness, and for that I cannot thank my parents enough.
    I know I caused my amazing mother plenty of grief over the years when I was more concerned about what kind of a doughnut I would get after the service than anything else, but as the years have passed I have come to better appreciate what parents gave me by taking me to church on a weekly basis.
    Our church has quite a few families with young children and even if they "aren't supposed to" I think it is one of the most special things in the world when three and four year old children are reciting the words of institution along with my father before Communion. Children can be difficult and frustrating, but they also have the potential to be the most faithful and devote of Christian followers. Suffer the children to come to him, because Children are actually capable of understanding and learning a lot more from church than we often give them credit for, but if their family did not deem it important for them to be there as children why would they think it important to go as adults?
    Thank you so much for your post, I think you hit the nail on the head quite soundly.

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  115. This is lovely and much needed by this tired parent of three kids 5 and under. Thank you!

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  116. My daughter is nine now and sometimes she says things that make me realize that, all those years in church, she heard and she understood. Believe me, it's worth it. Hang in there moms.

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  117. I am a pastor of a small Baptist church in Sackville, Nova Scotia that has a handful of loud squirmy infants and toddlers (a number of them my own). I love the noise children make and that they make their presence known. I feel a church without children is a church lacking a soul. It is my hope that everyone who brings a crying baby or a fidgety toddler to our church knows they are welcomed and loved noise and all.

    Thank you for writing this!

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  118. Thank you so much for this!! I am now a Mom of teens and a Pastor!! We are blessed to have many new young families in our church and it is often a loud, joyous worship service filled with crying, sometimes wailing, and wrestlessness...and I LOVE IT! Thank you...I have shared it on our churches facebook page and have already had one mom read it and feel at ease! Blessings to you and to your family!

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    1. Dear "Anonymous": If you are indeed a Pastor, how do you feel about parishioners missing the words and/or meaning of your message because of children? How do you feel when prayers can not be followed by your congregation because a 3 year old cannot / will not stop talking during that prayer? Why and when did it become acceptable to have misbehaving kids in church? I long for the days when everyone of every age understood that being in a church service was different from being in a public park.

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  119. I am a children and families worker and this rings so true to me. Children can teach the grow ups a thing or 2 or 100 ;) Time to give the children the floor and catch a glimpse of what God's kingdom really looks like!

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  120. You have no idea how much I needed this <3 from a very tired mama of two little girls (2yrs&8mos)

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    1. It's tough to have your child understand "No" in church when he/she never hears it at home.

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  121. Love this! I often thought of our pew as the commercial break on Sunday mornings. Five little kids and the husband on the pulpit. Yikes! Yet I was always amazed by what the kids took home with them (little ears hear more than you think)as I had them draw me pictures of the sermon. Sage advice: Put lots of fun things in your purse and remember those years pass far too quickly (I know and sometimes not fast enough when your in them)! Now I can hardly wait for my grand kids to join me in the pew--I'm already stocking my purse...

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  122. Love this! I often thought of our pew as the commercial break on Sunday mornings. Five little kids and the husband on the pulpit. Yikes! Yet I was always amazed by what the kids took home with them (little ears hear more than you think)as I had them draw me pictures of the sermon. Sage advice: Put lots of fun things in your purse and remember those years pass far too quickly (I know and sometimes not fast enough when your in them)! Now I can hardly wait for my grand kids to join me in the pew--I'm already stocking my purse...

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  123. This article and comments have all been very interesting to me. I am a mother of five young children (all under 9), a wife of a worship pastor and very involved in ministry myself. We visited a church over Christmas break that did not offer any children's programs. That meant we had all five children with us for the entire service. I remember thinking I would not have gone back to that church if we were looking for a church home. An excellent child and family-loving children's program is a must for my family's church.
    I realize the importance of our children being taught about faith and worship. I just don't think Sunday morning worship services are the only (or the best way.) I love our children's programs at church. Our kids learn at their level and we engage them in conversations constantly throughout the week. They attend worship with us occasionally. On Monthers' day I took a child with me to each service and this past Sunday, my seven year old son came with me. When I take one, I can teach them about the service as we experience it. When I take more than one, I am refereeing.
    They are cute and oftentimes a reminder of new life and innocence. But they are often a distraction. I am not concerned so much that they will distract mature believers, but that they will distract someone in need of healing or truth. My son't smile is anything but cute if it keeps someone from discovering God's love. That may sound a little extreme, but if we are honest, it isn't to far-reaching.
    My family's faith does not revolve around our Sunday morning worship experience. Sunday morning is one of the many aspects of our faith, both personally and as part of a larger community. So if my children experience church in an age-appropriate way, I am alright with that. Sometimes I go to class with them. But we always continue our worship together as a family throughout the week whether we worshiped together or separately on Sunday morning. That's where the real life-lessons in faith happen.
    I don't think it is a bad thing to take a child to worship. I don't think it is a bad thing to let our children experience and learn through excellent children's programs. I do think that it is hard for us to be totally honest about our motives, though. Anything short of helping others move forward to the saving knowledge of God's love and grace (our children, ourselves, and other people in the service) then it isn't the best motive. It's a hard balance.

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    1. Thank you. I love kids. I really do. Parents these days though? Not so much. It really is ok to say "no" to a child.

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  124. A church without kids making noise in it will only grow quieter in time

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  125. I think you wrote this for me to read. As I write, tears are streaming down my face. I struggle with three boys 6 and under every week in church while their dad is up front preaching. I needed a reminder of why I'm doing what I do. Thank you.

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  126. My husband pastors small rural churches in Missouri. He LOVES having children and babies in church. He says *smiling* he has never met a baby/child that he can't preach over. And I always make it a point to tell this to mothers, esp those who seem embarrassed. We had two of our own and now have 5 grands from 13 down to 2.

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  127. Totally awesome- I so wish people, and churches, would 'get this'. If we send our children to be entertained in 'children's church' how will they learn to enjoy church, to quietly listen and learn, to worship. I know, kids learn things in children's church... but they learn so much more in 'adult church'.

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  128. Nope. I long for the days when parents had the guts to say no. I am tired. Tired of missing sermons and prayers because the 3 year old behind me is allowed to talk in a full voice, and kick the bench I am sitting on for 10 minutes straight. I am tired of having to move to a different seat because a parent thinks his/her child is adorable and everyone relishes the noises he/she makes. I am tired of tantrums that are drowned out by pleading for the tantrum to stop. Be a parent. Please. There is nothing Biblical about your unruly child taking away my ability to worship and hear the word of the Lord.

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  129. I am wishing I could post this on our church's website. Could you give me permission and maybe even some instructions on how best to do that? This is an awesome article and SO needed in our churches where so many think children should be sequestered somewhere else in the building during worship.

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