To You Who Bring Small Children to Church

There you are sitting in worship or Bible study. Your child, or toddler, is restless. Perhaps they’re even a little boisterous. You try to silence them, and nothing. You try to pacify them with food or toys, and nothing. Eventually, you resort to the last thing you wanted to do: you pick them up, and before a watching audience, you make the march out of the auditorium. All the while, you’re a little embarrassed. Maybe you’re a little frustrated too. You might even think to yourself, “There’s no point in coming to church. I get nothing out of it because I have to constantly care for my kid.”

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Photo credit to Ben Mizen.

I want you — you mothers and/or fathers — to know just how encouraging you are to so many. The little elderly woman who often feels alone beams with a smile at the sight of you wrestling with your little one. She’s been there before. She knows how hard it can be, but she smiles because to hear that brings back precious memories. To see young parents and their small children brighten her day, and she may have just received bad news this week about her health, but seeing the vitality of young ones removes — if but for a moment — her fears.

The older man who always seems to be grouchy notices you too. He’s always talking about how children in this day have no respect or sense of good. But, he sees you — a young family — in church, and you don’t miss any gathering. Like clockwork, he can depend on the sight of you and your young family. You give him hope that maybe the church isn’t doomed after all, because there are still young parents who love God enough to bring their restless children to worship.

Then there’s everybody else. Some people will honestly become frustrated by noisy children in church. They have this warped idea that reverence includes absolute silence. It doesn’t. When parents brought their children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them (Matt. 19.13-15), but Jesus rebuked His disciples. He said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” The term translated “children” in Matthew and Mark is paidon. The root of the word “pedagogue” is from this word. It defined children of either an infant state, or more particularly, it was with reference to those who were half-grown and could be either males or females.

When Luke wrote his account of this narrative, he used the word brephos; which means “infants.” Luke wasn’t contradicting Matthew and Mark’s account, because Luke wrote that they brought the infants “also” (Luke 18.15-17). They would have squirmed, maybe even cried. This was likely why the disciples rebuked the parents; as well as that they might have thought that the children were too young to understand the blessing Christ pronounced over them.

Bring your children to church. If you don’t hear crying, the church is dying. As hard as it might be for you as a parent who’s half-asleep, keep on doing what you’re doing. You are an encouragement, and you’re starting off your children’s lives as you should.

**If you agree or disagree with this article, I’d still encourage that you read two other posts of mine that go along with this topic: “Parenting in the Pew” and “How to Teach Young Children to Participate in Worship.” Just click on the titles of each and you should be redirected to the article itself.

 

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541 thoughts on “To You Who Bring Small Children to Church

  1. Sometimes I suspect that the crying infant is the most pleasing sound God hears at our worship services–and certainly the most innocent!

      • Children do listen and absorb. When my son was around 4 years old we would all go out for a soda and socialize after church. My son being “big now” would go to the restroom by himself. He started staying in there way too long and people would come out with weird expressions on their faces. When I would knock on the door he would say he was not finished yet. One sunday when I expressed my concern over what he could be up to in there our pastor offered to check on him for me. He came out with a huge smile on his face. It turns out that my son would pretend to be washing his hands and them when someone got “busy” in a stall he would knock on the door and invite them to church! He said that he had to wait until they got “busy” because since he was a little kid most people just ignored him. When he waited until they got “busy” they could’t “get away” and he could invite them to church and tell them about God.Children live what they learn.

      • I would also like permission to put this in our church bulletin. We just had a request for parents to take their children to the cry room. How timely that a friend shared your article on facebook this week.

    • Our priest always told us not to take them out, he could talk louder than they could cry or throw a fit……… Blessed are the children……

      • One Sunday my daughter was extremely fussy. I stood to take her out. Our Priest told me to sit down ! He could talk over any child in there ! He also said ” if anyone in the back is disturbed by this child They are welcome to move forward !!” not a person move from their seat.

      • My pastor told me the same thing when I took my children, grands and greats to church and they got restless.

      • I have glad you have such an understanding priest. Our pastor at our former church was would always say stuff like “we have a nursery for a reason, children don’t belong in church”. I have always disagreed. I remember one day shortly before we left that church a woman with an infant was visiting our church. Being in a strange place with strangers I wouldn’t leave my child in the nursery either. Her baby started fussing during service, not particularly loud and her pacifier fell into the aisle and the pastor said for everyone to hear something like “I’ll wait. Apparently she has something more important to say. You do realize we have a nursery”. I couldn’t believe it, he was so rude and we never saw that woman again and I don’t blame her. We left for a new church shortly after that (for many reasons). I will never forget when we started our new church and the kids were dancing in the aisles during the songs. I looked to the new pastor expecting him to say something like our old pastor would and he walked off the stage and started dancing with the kids. It was awesome being in such a kid friendly church.

      • In a world that would rather be childless, the sound of babies is music to my ears. Jesus wants them to be with Him, baptized as infants and full participators in His Liturgy.

    • I was singing a solo at church one day and a small child (my own) kept crying during my solo. If church gets derailed because of a child’s “disruption” it was on the wrong track to begin with.

      • I totally agree to a point. sure, my kids would fuss and yell. IF I couldn’t get them to settle down, I would take them out to the foyer, where you could still hear the speaker through the speakers. ;) It is called: common courtesy. And thoughtful consideration for those who are really trying to hear and get as much as they can from a message. Im talking about a Mother whos’ baby or child is screaming or crying loudly for 5-10 minutes straight! If you have a child and you cant calm it in that amount of time, you are NOT courteous. It is called: Good Manners.

    • and to those who were those children i grew up knowing how important church was and even when i had my crazy young adult crisis i knew to do it between monday and saturday but still show or sunday. And often when i coulndnt be bothered with God that tradition got me to church where i heard the Call of God once more and eventually turned back to him properly. Parents dont give up its not for nothing! i am who i am because of consistent sunday mornings!

      • Thank you for these words…I am going through this with my middle grown daughter right now…It is breaking my heart that she doesn’t attend church…She says she will go when she wants to…That I MADE her go so much, that she is turned off to going now…We only attended on Sundays and music classes during the week…People tell me she will be back, but I worry she won’t…I told her even if it isn’t the exact church we attend as long as she is worshiping God and has Jesus in her heart the church name doesn’t matter

      • Carol, I’m 25 and I don’t make it to church every Sunday for a variety of reasons including that my parents belong to different churches and I don’t think that it is fair to go to one and not the other. I know that it upsets both my mom and my dad but I still have a very active religious life in the sense that I sing hymns nearly every day and have considered becoming a nun multiple times. I am also a youth leader for my father’s church and the head of the their prayer service team which is held every Friday evening and well attended by my youth group. Keep faith.

      • Carol, I didn’t go to church from the ages of 14-17. My parents told me that I was old enough to decide on my own, so I slept in on Sundays. My parents and family members continued to pray for me. When I did make it back to the church, I knew that it was real and had a stronger relationship with God than ever before. Keep doing what you’re doing.

      • Carol, I am 23 now. I went through the same thing when I was teenager, along with a lot of things that drove me from the church, I even moved two states away from my family. My whole church, and family prayed for me the whole time. eventually I was able to realize that God was the one who was always there for me, the one that kept me strong and the one I could depend on through everything that I had went through. All because I was raised in the church and my mom made me go every sunday, and Wednesday, and choir practice. It instills a special place in your heart for God that will never go away. I came back home, went back to college. I now have a wonderful husband, amazing children, and fantastic church body. There may be a lot that you will go through, just pray and be there for her. That’s all you can do, and leave the rest to God and the way you raised her.

      • Mrs Grace (what a lovely name ) I will pray for her and you both trust in God he will show her her way back Keep the Faith and LOVE her GOD BLESS Cindy PS I know because it was like that for me as well

      • Carol,

        I have been back in church on a regular basis for over a year now. But the four years before that I went periodically or not at all. I feel that even though I wasn’t in church, God met me more times than I can count. My mom prayed and I can guarantee that is why there were Sundays in those years that I woke up and craved a church home. I went back to what I grew up and knew all along. Don’t give up hope.

      • I don’t believe she was saying that infants are ultimately innocent, only more innocent than most adults. No need to attack her comments over an idealistic view of babies.

      • Let’s think semantics here. No one believes that babies are somehow born not sinners just like the rest of us are. But they aren’t deliberately choosing to disturb the church; they don’t have the capacity to understand what is going on and choose to behave one way or another. That age of circumstantial personal behavior modification comes later and varies by individual. Perhaps a better term would be ingenuous, which is a synonym that hardly anyone uses properly either. But really, innocent has a number of implications that have been in use for several hundred years (including the one used here) and doesn’t necessarily mean statutory righteousness.

    • I’m not sure I agree that God loves to hear children crying while His word is being expounded. I’m not sure he wants everyone to be distracted so that the power of his word is missed. I’m not sure God wants chldren to be the center of attention everytime the church meets. I’m actually wondering if someone else isn’t actively working to create distractions so that the message the preacher has labored over for 10 to 15 hours and who has agonized in prayer over will be completely missed by an entire congregation. I’m not sure having little kids sit through long services not designed specifically for them so that they learn to cope by daydreaming and playing around doesn’t carry over into later years when they should be paying attention. I think this whole article arises from a dreamy affection for children without giving any serious thought to what’s really happening in church and what’s really best for little children. Sorry to disagree, but I couldn’t disagree more.

      • I’m so thankful that you have a high impression of the work we preachers do. However, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I “labor” over sermon preparation and “agonized” in prayer about it. Those terms make it sound like my job as a preacher is hard, but sermon prep and delivery come rather naturally for me.

        I would prefer no distractions when I preach, but if it’s not a baby crying, the distraction might be the inner struggles of the Christian’s life, or an apathy that keeps them from hearing the lesson. As one who’s easily distracted, I appreciate learning in silence, but I won’t begrudge those whose children whimper or make a little noise here or there. I want those children to grow up knowing God.

        Our worship services are 1 hour plus a 45 minute Bible study before worship with 15 minutes between both services. We try to allow ample time for breaks and fellowship.

        This article isn’t dreamy at all. I’m a stern disciplinarian with my children, and they keep quiet in worship or they’re taken out and corrected. When they were little children, we parented them in such a way that they behaved in worship. However, we also have a devotional life at home too. If children are overly noisy in worship, it may be poor parenting and/or the lack of a family devotional time.

        We do disagree, but your characterization of me couldn’t be more wrong.

      • I doubt that anything God intends for us to hear goes unheard. We aren’t going to miss something God wants/needs us to hear. EVER. A baby isn’t going to cause us to be distracted by what we need to hear. HE has it under control; ALL of it. That baby crying…. HE put it there, and for a reason.

      • I’ve known many people like you, and I’m related to a few too. For that reason, I avoid smaller churches and only go to churches with childcare during service. There is no point otherwise. My husband does not attend with me, and my toddler doesn’t really get anything out of a regular adult service, and if I am constantly bringing her out, after having to go through getting her ready, the whole exercise is just a massive waste of time. If you want to see your small church shrink, just keep on preaching that.

      • This simply isn’t true. The purpose of church is not simply preaching and learning, but the building of the body through corporate worship, fellowship and shared experience. Small churches all over have continued to be sustained by the children who were raised to adulthood in them and then raise their own children in them. I’m sorry that you feel you can’t bring your child to service. I know that it is difficult, but it is worth it to do so. It may take a few Sundays before the child is reliably trained as to how to behave, but there are plenty of 2-year-olds who do it every Sunday. I encourage you to try again. Maybe you could talk to some folks to see if they could support you in your efforts. Many small churches do this very well, by the way. Try a Primitive Baptist church. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t good at this.

      • I mean…after all, it’s better to be thrown in a sea with a millstone would be tied around my neck than to cause the elderly and those set in their ways to suffer through the occasional babbling of a toddler..

      • My son who is now 4 has a hard time sitting and being occupied in church as may other parents with young children. I also have had the same thoughts about why I should I go if I am going to end up taking him out of service. I now have a different way of thinking and know that kids offer so much to all of us. I try to not think of what others may be questioning in their mind about me or my family and just try to teach them that being there is the most important thing.

      • Why would God not like to hear the cry of a baby that He created and designed to cry, even if it’s during the preaching of His Word? If God’s Word is so powerful, do you really think that a crying infant can derail its message? Isn’t it more likely that the lack of ability to focus is the problem? No one is saying kids have to be the center of attention, but they do bring joy and laughter just by being present. And I doubt the entire congregation will miss the point of the preacher’s sermon, but just in case, don’t plenty of churches offer recordings (some also make the sermons available online)?

        And you are in fact wrong about kids learning “to cope by daydreaming and playing around doesn’t carry over into later years when they should be paying attention.” The opposite is correct. Kids learn how to worship and love church, even though they don’t always act like it, and that is what carries over to adulthood. The segregating of children from their families by use of a nursery or children’s church is what causes children to not understand what the worship service is about. Children learn best from their parents’ example, not from other children or even a devoted teacher. Being in service IS what is best for the children.

      • Of course God loves to hear children crying while His word is being expounded! He also loves it when they are playing with quiet toys on and under the seats and/or softly talking. He loves it when they are sleeping and even snacking. He loves that they are there! “Train up a child. . ” I think the only time children are the center of attention in church is when they are invited onto the platform to partake in the services. All my children attend church with their children. It was instilled in them. Did they always go? Maybe not, but they do now. And they love God! That’s what counts.

      • Nice to hear a dissenting opinion. I’m inclined to agree. Like anything, there is a limit, and there is a point where it becomes disrespectful to God and the rest of the congregation to keep a screaming baby or a loudly-talking toddler in church for the entire service.

      • All dissenting opinions seem only to pick on children and not address disruptive adults. Where’s the balance in the dissent?

      • I believe that there are two sides to this coin. We all LOVE to hear babies (but just b/c there are NO babies doesn’t mean the church is dying…) It means nobody has had a baby lately in your congregation. (!) Remember, God’s not impressed by numbers but by our hearts. I am the wife of a preacher and he, for the most part, can block out crying babies but we also have a soundproof “cry-room” in the back where their needs can be met and the parent can still hear the sermon…. it’s just basically a way of being “thoughtful” to the rest of the group when your baby is crying… as you would be in any quiet group setting. Balance. Thoughtfulness for others. One more added thought. With the “fast pace” of video games, t.v. and high tech electronics I believe it’s a good thing to teach our child to sit for at least 30 min. and at least try to be still. Discipline in a world that wants everything fast and now would bring a lot to our young generation.

      • I totally agree. I find it very distracting. And so manyitting around the childwant to coo and play peek a boo and hold / pass them around that they become distracting also.

      • “What characteristics defined Jesus’ discipleship? In other words, how did He treat His disciples? Was He harsh? Did He yell? Did He punish them? Clearly, He had the authority to. But since He came to take our punishment, it really wouldn’t make sense for Him to start meting it out, would it?

        Was He distant, unresponsive to their needs? Did He make demands, insist on instant obedience, and toss around kingly commands?

        No, no, no, and no! Jesus treated His disciples gently, tenderly. He listened. He responded to their needs, answered their questions, spoke their language. Jesus encouraged and guided and taught His disciples.

        He drew them close to Himself, lived with them, ate with them, traveled with them. Jesus didn’t just say He loved His disciples. He didn’t simply feel love for His disciples. Jesus lived love for His disciples. And He lived that love daily, mercifully, sacrificially.”

        http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/2011/11/15/jesus-the-gentle-parent/

      • going to agree with Steven here – I didn’t get much out of the service when my kids were little. I spent the entire time teaching my kids to be stil(ish) and quiet during the service – they picked up alot even though it wasn’t always obvious.

        And there were times when after our Pastor said “Go in peace, serve the Lord” when I said “thanks be to God” it was simply because I was tired of keeping them still.

        And I did put them in nursery occaisionally, but we go to church to well, go to church!

      • The congregation can and will listen to a sermon…if they want to…despite crying or fussy children. I can certainly void children’s noises from my ear what I want to hear something else. Those who can’t are most likely childless…I presume (because I remember their awful noise when I wasn’t a mother). My pastors always encourage the lil ones in worship…I’ll take their word over yours.

      • WD I hope I never wind up at your church. You sound pretty stiff and uncompromising to me. I treasure every little child who comes, and if there wasn’t room for their energy in our church, I think Jesus would go out the door with them!

      • I agree, as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother I have been in services for years. Children do distract from the service when they cry or continually make noise. When child care is available the children will be learning on their level, lessons that will live in their hearts for a life time. I love children but let me enjoy God’s word.

      • Quoted from Steven-“If children are overly noisy in worship, it may be poor parenting and/or the lack of a family devotional time.”-Maybe you should consider in that smaller person, that the big spirit inside them is so excited to hear the truth of the Gospel. That their physical body does not know how to keep still because of the great joy it feels. I know that I have a young person approaching 12, he has a very active body and mind. He gets distracted by those around us he will actually find a quiet dark room to sit in and listen. But he does participate in Primary 2 40 minute sessions plus our Sacrament which is 1 hour 20 minutes-He finds a room for this. Most people believe he is ignoring them and not listening and have no idea that he comes home and tells me in great detail what he has learned during Primary and Sacrament. I honestly am tempted to do what he does for Sacrament because it can be overwhelming with all the input from those around us. As a side note We home school our children because of their very active nature and they are reasonably well behaved during scripture study or reading classic literature at home with paper and pencil in hand drawing. Just my 25 cents worth.

      • Wow. The god you serve seems pretty limited in his ability to speak to hearts and convict hearts and lives around the sounds of others, and around things gang happen in this world. 1 Corinthians 1:9 and Romans 8 say that the God I serve is diffrent then that. Human problems, including crying babies, are not a road block to the Lords abilities, reaches and ministry. Peace and blessings as you reevalute your hearts choice of god’s.

      • Oh my Sarah, It is better a milestone be tied around your neck and you be cast into the sea, than to harm a little one who believes in me. Why did you twist scripture?

      • If you have a Bible verse to support that position, I’d be interested in seeing it. Otherwise, we’re guessing based on our own personal preferences while I’ve tried to cite biblical passages of Christ interacting with kids while He was teaching.

    • When ours were little, I had a “Church Bag” for our sons. In it were Bible storybooks, coloring books & colored pencils/ crayons, & other Faith-based quiet distractions, and a special sippy cup too. This bag came out ONLY when we went to Church. I’d change it up once in a while so there was a surprise in store. This helped as we attended Mass as a family… I hope this suggestion helps you moms & dads of toddlers- your children are the Church of tomorrow… & of today.

      • @Destiny (No reply under hers???)

        Except when Jesus got angry in his father’s temple!!! They did not use appropriately so he let them have it!

      • After a painful divorce, dressing and preparing my two toddlers on my own, only to get to church service and not be able to fully participate week after week due to their normal restlessness and noise, was a major drain on me and did not “feed” my hungry and hurting soul. Ours was a very small, wonderful faith-filled church filled with numerous people who had supported my family through alot. The Pastor subscribed to this same idea that children should be taught how to behave in church service by being there. I agree to a point, but two hours can be an awfully long time for a restless toddler, no matter how obedient and well-behaved.
        After many months of prayer and tears, I made the decision to try another church that offered children’s services. The Lord led us to the first and only church we visited; we became official members shortly thereafter. Our church encourages parents to bring small children into the worship service, however they also have the option of a “children’s sanctuary” that is set up just like big church-worship songs(more upbeat and modern), sermon, prayer time-all just much more laid back. My children are now 7 and 4 1/2 and this children’s ministry is able to meet everyone’s needs. My 7 yr old daughter attends the children’s “Big Church” and my 4 yr old son attends worship service with me until the sermon begins and then he is able to join children his age in Sunday School(nursery). I feel safe knowing they are learning about God and proper behavior in church. Plus, I am able to hear God’s Word taught, worship Him with my son, and no one from the congregation is distracted for more than a few moments until I am able to settle my son or relocate him. I truly hated leaving my home church, but it turned out to be the right choice.

      • I have never attended Mass where there was a nursery. To attend Mass is to worship and adore the Lord who gave His all that we might be called His children. Mass is not about what we get out of it, but what we give to Him who deserves our all. It has been effective for my little charges to whisper what is taking place at the altar and showing them how and why everyone around them is quiet and paying attention. There are enough stain-glass windows and statuary to keep their attention while the congregation is quiet. We also practice whispering at home in order to regulate the volume. In my parish there are families with 6-8-10 children who are very respectful of the church family around them. It would be impossible to leave with a noisy one and leave the rest in the pew. Families in the pews means the Faith is growing and the Church will survive.

    • I learned so much as a child growing up in church. As a young child I learned about acceptable behavior, how to sit quietly, to appreciate the beautiful gift of music. I can still feel the satin lining of my grandmothers coat as she covered my cold legs. My mama would hold my hand and pat me if I became restless. Although I wriggled around a bit I was expected to sit quietly and listen. I learned a lot about how to worship from the loving adults around me. During prayer I observed tears wetting precious old cheeks, lips moving in prayer as the pastor prayed and old Bibles open to scripture. When the service ended I was lifted up by hugs and sweet words of greeting. Still, we children waited until we were outside the church to run and laugh with our friends while the adults took a few minutes to fellowship with each other. As I grew older, the rules applied but I sat with friends, used my own Bible, sang with gusto (knowing most of the words) and occassionally, I was brought to tears. Not all of us stayed in the church, some kids ran fast and far away and some just drifted. I still love that church from my childhood and the lessons learned. I raised my family in church and have heard all the reasons to not attend. I pray and invite without playing guilt or applying pressure…these are God’s children. Oh, and those friends and loved ones who ran? Many are back worshiping and praising. 65 years of life gives such a renewed perspective.

      • Pat P. My growing up in church followed your experience. Our clergyman encouraged parents to bring children to church. They get used to the ritual of being there and over time they absorb the procedure and accept it as “this is what we do on Sunday as part of their life. .”, it becomes natural. I think we ought to be patient.

    • I don’t think people should look down on children in church, it is good they are there. But I really have to question the point of a toddler being present during mass. I very clearly remember being young and sitting in the pews coloring. I wasn’t paying attention. I remember coloring not the sermon not, not the words that were spoke. I do remember the rituals (catholic church) and thinking everyone was robots and not feeling(and because of such I lost my faith for quite some time). I didn’t understand that was how people were connecting with God because there was no interaction for me. I sat there coloring because that is what my parents told me to do to keep me quiet. I would have been much better served as young child going to a child care Sunday School Class while my parents attended mass. Every church I have been to as an adult has had the children attend the opening part of mass and then had them break off and go to a separate children’s service. I think that is a wonderful idea. Kids are inquisitive and they need an interactive environment to learn. At a children’s service they are much more likely to pay attention and if they have a question and instead of forgetting it because they have to be quite they can ask and have it answered. Don’t get me wrong I am not against children in mass. I just think there are better ways to serve them and help them grow.

      • I hesitate to say this, but perhaps parents that blindly give their children coloring books instead of teaching them the beauty of the ‘rituals’ of Mass. I have an almost 6 year old little boy and turning 4 year old little girl. From the moment they were baptized (within 2 weeks of birth) they’ve not only attended Mass, but they’ve also learned to participate in Mass. I sing in the choir for my little country church and have since I was pregnant with my son. Throughout both of their entire lives, most Sunday Masses we sit in close proximity to the microphones, but have no issues. By the time he could talk/sing he has joined in the responses and songs. He can actually “say” most of the Mass along with the priest (quietly). My daughter can as well.

        We are typically a Sunday and Holy Day Mass only attendees – so it’s not that we attend exceptionally often. However, throughout the week and even throughout Mass, I don’t just mindlessly shush or pacify my children. Instead I tell them what’s going on and why it’s important. Even before they could speak, I made this a point. When they were infants, obviously it was more about keeping them calm and quiet, but once they reached the point of watching and listening, I started showing them the beauty of my Catholic Faith especially during the Mass. By pointing out the motions of the priest, being active in responses, and employing various appropriately themed books, toys, and even snacks, both of my children have only been removed from Mass a handful of times each. Even then, it was for a short period of time.

        I don’t think I’m the epitome of motherhood, but with guidance from my childhood and parents, I have two very active, vocal, rambunctious children who truly understand Mass and why it’s important. Sunday Mass is not the only time children should be exposed to prayer and/or quiet time. It is the parents’ job to teach their children how to behave. It is the parents’ job to know their children’s strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. The most important thing besides the above is to be consistent. For example, when my babies transitioned into toddlers, it was tempting to let them toddle in the pews. Once released on a pew, they would quickly expect it every time and soon began expecting to be placed on the floor to proceed up the aisle. It was a rough month or so to retrain them (yep, we made the same mistake with #2), but it has paid off incredibly.

        With that said, yes, there are definitely times I feel like I am not getting a whole lot out of Mass. Even now, I’m admitting that my kiddos aren’t perfect. However, for the most part I know that *my* vocation is not to be the star pupil memorizing every word said in Mass. My vocation is to bring my children to God and eventually Heaven. If that means being present at Mass, but not attending to every word, then so be it. God gave me these children and He gave me others to advise and assist me as necessary. Even if I did not have advice or assistance, I would still be in charge of their souls.

        Sending children out for much of the Mass does them a great disservice IMO. Once they age out of that program, what magically happens to make them pay attention? Nothing. They have no idea what is expected of them now that they reached the age that they have to attend ‘regular’ Mass – especially for children with special needs, maturity issues, learning disabilities, etc. So then, many churches have implemented “Youth” services, then “Teen” services, then “Young-adult” services, etc. Eventually, we have adults ready to have their own children without any idea of what a ‘real’ service is like. The cycle continues as they seek out the same services they attended as a child. However, as I outlined above, a child that has always been expected to attend church services learns through the years not only what is expected of them, but also why it is expected of them — especially if their parents take care to educate them thoroughly in this matter. Parents can’t educate them about Mass without taking their little ones to Mass.

    • Unlike adults, children live every moment of their lives in the moment. We, on the other hand, waste more and more moments each day with: worrying, acquiring, judging, pontificating, and administrating. Shouldn’t the church be the place where we all can accept the Way of God and leave our own agendas at the door? The irony is that Jesus often taught in many subtle ways, but with his call to children He was completely open and direct. t seems that in our sophistication we have lost the simplicity of a life in Faith. I wonder if that isn’t the message that we have been blessed with in having the first Pope Francis. My favorite Masses were always the ones where the children sat at the celebrant’s feet near the altar as he consecrated the Eucharist. My view is that our Church can only renew itself, generation after generation, by letting the children learn to love our Lord day by day, week by week and year by year.

    • I wonder if the people that are displeased with children in church would as Mary to leave if young Jesus was crying in her lap

    • Cate, you make a very sound point. And not only are they innocent, they’re not afraid to express their true feelings. Nothing phony about them.

  2. Many great thoughts in this post of children in worship services. There were very few in our congregation for several years but now we have several who are there at every service.
    Having very young people in a congregation is a blessing and filled a void that existed for a few years years in our congregation. We love and appreciate having them. Trying to get even even more..

  3. I only go on Sunday mornings because of this very same reason. I have a 3 year old daughter and a 10 year old son. I never really thought of being a blessing to someone while my kids are also a disturbance. This has made me reevaluate my thinking.

    • Thank you James for recognizing this! :) I have kept all 3 of my boys in the service while my husband is preaching…by myself. The hard work has paid off because now they can sit by themselves while I sing in the praise team/choir, at 10,8 & 4 yrs. old. And, I have to say for most pastors they will not even notice when you get up & leave the service with a crying baby…my husband has not even realized before that I left with our own child! :) Bring those babies into the service!! Great post Steven! Blessings to you and your wife!

    • Every church I ever served in were smaller rural ones. There were times where my boys were the only children in church. I have long blessed my wife and the other parents who brought their children to church.

  4. l encourage you to attend as many services as you possibly can,you and your family are the future of God’s church.God bless you

  5. I remember those years with my children. Some days I didn’t remember a thing about the service. My mother told me that if nothing else, it was teaching my children that we need to be church. It has helped them to be faithful and to know that with their children they are following the same path.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had a bad experience, Melissa. However, I would encourage you and your family to not let immature believers to be a road block to your love of Christ. You can find somewhere that will be as loving of your children as Jesus was of those who were brought to Him. If you’d like, please email me and let me know where you live, and I may know of a congregation for you to visit: schunter@ymail.com

      Blessings to you.

    • Don’t know where you are located, but our church believes that the children should children and they are welcome in our service. I have a 7 year old and a 20 month old. There are days when my youngest gets too out of hand and I have to take her to the nursery, but I try to keep her in the service as long as I can.

      Our church is a very small church, but since I started attending in 2010, the members have become my family. You will always have support from your church members and there is no worry that you would ever get lost in a crowd and be forgotten.

      Christ’s Community Church
      4383 Christiana Hoovers Gap Road
      Christiana, TN 37037-5649

    • Keep looking and keep praying. We were in that situation ourselves until recently. I have a son with autism. Once we decided to all go to a Christmas Eve service together. We sat at the very back with several empty rows in front of us. We had trouble keeping our son in his seat, but he wasn’t really being that disruptive. Nevertheless, an associate pastor came over and asked us to leave. What a lovely way to show the love of Christmas. Anyway, I didn’t return to church for nearly a year until a friend of mine said that pastor had moved on to another church (poor them!) My husband kept hoping things would get better at that church, but they never really did no matter how much lip service they paid to us about how our son was welcome. Yes, but only if we would stay with him and remove him when he got too noisy. After several years, we finally found a new church where my son is accepted the way he is. We had to change denominations, but who cares? My son is still too disruptive to sit in the main sanctuary, but he is able to go to children’s church where a buddy helps him. The special needs ministry at that church is really growing. Of course it is! There is such a need in this area.

      • I must refrain from some creative language at the pastor of that church. My home church has a young man he was a kid at the time who was very active and we all just stort of let him do his thing. My mom and I took the time to get some toys and other quiet activitys to help him settle, but they benefited all the kids and still do. Now he is an usher and a blessing to our grouchy but so loving chief usher. They make such a great pair. You will find a church that loves your son and your family and wants the. In the family

      • I had a similar thing happen to me because of my twins that were three at the time but I was in the balcony section of the church the priest actually stopped the mass and asked us to leave in front of everyone. I was so embarrassed I didn’t return to that church. Instead I found a parish I dearly loved that welcomed all of us with open arms and we stayed going there for eight years until my husband moved for a job. Priest are just human and there are ones that I question their values and there are others that are truly god’s blessings and have been bistowed a gift. I took all five of my children to church while they were all living at home I hope it makes a difference in their futures.

      • It took me three or four years to find the right church. Single mother with an Autistic child. I probably went through close to 10 churches in that time. Some were accepting of my child and not me, some me and not my child and others were accepting of neither. Finally I found one that was accepting of both. That was five or six years ago now. My son will be 12 and he still sits in the back pew and plays with his Legos.

        Our church service is probably about an hour and a half (not counting 45 minute Sunday school before hand); which I know is uncommonly long these days. I had this conversation with another older lady about a month or so ago. Working through the frustration of my own unreasonable expectations and feelings of inadequacy has been a far bigger challenge than my son’s actual behavior.

        She’d said something about kids being able to sit through a church service because you’d expect them at a certain age to be able to sit through school. Than she asked me. “Does he sit through school?” and I looked at her and laughed, but than I got it! If he can’t sit through 45 minutes of class instruction, why would I expect him to sit through an hour and a half of church? I began to learn how to assess how realistic (for this child) my demands were.

        Now granted, I still occasionally run into the person who thinks that they have something “new” that they need to share with me. Yet it’s quite clear that none of them would want to live in my reality full time!

        This kid has been through a lot; developmental issues, a chronic medical condition, his parent’s failed marriage and a catastrophic car accident that hospitalized both adults for a month. He lived with a friend of mine for 6 weeks.

        He doesn’t seem to get much out of church, but when he’s scared or in trouble he prays. Last year when we slid around on the road before smacking into a guard rail the first thing out of his mouth was “Thank You! Thank You Lord we’re alive!” Then another time when one of our cats got out of his humane society box. He held onto the cat and prayed all the way to the nearest exit. (He was terrified because a loose animal in the car that hit us caused the accident a year and a half earlier.) So no, he doesn’t sit still in church. He drops his Legos on the floor sometimes and mumbles loudly on occasion. Not the ideal, well behaved, sit quietly with your hand folded child; but he shows the fruit of faith.

        “We pour out our misery, God just hears a melody. Beautiful the mess we are, honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a Hallelujah.”

  6. Love this except for one line. As the Mom to two children brought to us through adoption they are very much “our own” That is one of the painful comments people make “have one of your own” so it stood out. Other than that a wonderful reminder of how vital children are to worship!!

    • Oh Laura, I only meant for that phrase to indicate “biological.” I try to write plainly so that I’m not misunderstood. Please don’t take offense.

      SH

      • Be encouraged Laura,
        God values the very special type of family that comes through adoption. You will face many more hurdles and heartache than biological families and meet much misunderstanding and discrimination, but you have done something so amazing and wonderful and God sees that. I know how it is. I have three adopted children with a very difiicult past and have been persecuted for my children’s behaviour and responses. I love them as my own, perhhaps more, because I constantly have to protect, prepare, advocate for them because of their past. God sees this. Far from being a support my church has abandoned me recently when going through a real trial due to my children’s birth family, they would not stand up and be counted when I needed them. But God is still there. Holding me up. God is still there.

    • Nicely put Laura…as an adoptive parent of two boys that are “my own” in every way…I agree that it’s a statement that can go away now as we are all more enlightened and intelligent about the ways families can be made!

    • Keep her in church instead of the nursery. She will get used to it, and will not catch as many bugs. We love the sounds of our babies in the church service, and my hubby is the preacher. We love a multi-generational service.

      • If a nursery/crèche is available then take them there. I run it our church andnnothing bothers me more then parents who having disruptive kids just let them stay in the church service even though there is a perfectly set up and organised room for them.
        Yes I understand kids are needed in a church which is why the first Half of service the kids are there and then they leave to go to kids church where they learn at a level better suited to them. Then they come back at the end while morning tea is on.

    • Beg pardon, Anna, but did you really read this article?

      I for one, won’t mention the name of the big church in the center of town in Joplin, MO that my family doesn’t attend because when we visited, at least four people insisted on “showing us the nursery” as their form of welcome. It hardly made us feel that way ;) ;)

      And I “keep the nursery” at my church periodically … but I’m there for those who *want* the service … we never pressure or require parents to part with their children.

    • If a nursery is provided I would encourage you to use it. As oftentimes fussing babies can make it hard for for the elderly and hard of hearing to be able to hear clearly and pay attention.

      • Meme, perhaps you missed the point of the article? There are hearing devices for the elderly and hard of hearing. There are no Jesus devices. As great as the nursery is, it’s still not worship. The wee ones are a blessing and should be whole-heatedly welcomed. ;)

      • Why is a nursery not worship Grammy? Jesus is certainly there as much as in the nave & pews. I think Meme has a point – not all churches are fitted with “listening devices” and it can be difficult to hear the pastor over the wail or chatter of infants. In our church the young ones are invited to leave for their own liturgy (very child centred) during the readings & sermon – the stuff you have to be able to hear to make sense of it. Then they return, thrilled to share their work with us, for the rest of the service. They get an experience more tailored to their developmental needs, the rest of us get to hear the bits we need to hear, and we can all enjoy the second part together.

      • Little kids playing with toys and having kids-Jesus songs in the background to me is not worship. Worship is special, not common. Playing with toys quietly while learning how to worship from the older people around you is special, not common. Having any sort of music playing while the focus is the toys, is more common. It depends on what the main focus is, playing with toys or the corporate worship.

      • Grammy, you don’t understand how loss of hearing works based on your comments. I have normal hearing and my wife wears two hearing aids. They do not restore normal function but assist in hearing somewhat better. What is lost is the ability to discriminate among numerous sounds. If you hear normally, you can pick a conversation out in a room full of them. If you have lost hearing, you lose that ability even with the best devices for whatever hearing loss type you have.

        Put my wife in a service with constantly crying children, and she can’t pick up anything. That’s how it works. Her hearing cannot discriminate different sounds well enough.

        What any church needs to do is understand the needs of all worshipers and act in grace. Asking a family to leave for the slightest sound isn’t right, but neither is allowing a full temper tantrum screaming session during a service.

      • pj47 … Thank you! I have never heard anyone explain it better!! I don’t have a hearing “loss” but I have Auditory Processing Disorder. For example, when I’m on the phone, if my toddler is in the background playing with toys and watching his little videos even on low volume, I have a very hard time hearing what the person on the phone is saying. It’s a matter of how much my brain can process at one time (or not as the case may be).

        So as for being in service with little children, I’m all for them being in worship. But as soon and the cooing and playing switches to fussiness and out-right crying, I start to get so distracted all I can hear is the child. All I ask is that the child be taken to the cry room or lobby until he/she calms down, then come back in. That way, we can all listen to the message, and the child is taught the lesson that causing a major disruption is not acceptable in a public setting.

        In addition may I mention, the child is crying because they have an unmet need. Part of other people’s frustration is that the parents aren’t meeting their child/rens’ needs.

        So I guess my question is, how much distraction is too much? What can others around you tolerate and still be connected to the Word given? Are we as a church trying so hard to be “accepting” that we are driving away others?

      • I agree. Children should be welcome in the service if they are trained to be still and if parents will guide them to know that they cannot talk or walk all over the worship center during the service. If they start crying or being loud or won’t sit down, as a courtesy to the rest of the congregation, take them out and, if possible, take them to the nursery. I know this is hard, as my daughter was in church service at the age of 3 1/2 and had to be trained to be still, especially during prayer times and the invitation…times where people are more likely to make life changing decisions. It is not a matter of being welcome, it is a matter of respecting others and training your child. Every Sunday, my daughter was welcome in the service, but if she starting being disruptive and I could not get her to stop, I would take her out so she would not distract others. Mothers and Dads are very sensitive about this topic, but there is a reason why churches have nurseries, and if there is no nursery, just take your child out and calm them, then bring them back. Babies may need a diaper change or may be hungry. Toddlers can be trained and kept busy during church. Pastors should not call out parents. That is hurtful and humiliating. Perhaps if the pastor talked to the parents discreetly afterward, they could work out a solution. What’s the point of having a sermon if the congregation cannot hear it or is distracted by a crying or restless child? Parents sometimes leave churches because of this issue, but sometimes adults leave churches because they cannot hear or concentrate on the sermon because of crying or restless children. My solution was to take a turn in the nursery so we could offer a solution to those parents. Some parents will not use the nursery. Parents should not be offended or should not hesitate to use nursery services. Parenting is a difficult task and parents need spiritual uplift and guidance to help them through the week. The baby will be okay for an hour, really.

  7. Great article. I was one of those young moms struggling alone to bring my 3 children to services. My eldest son is now a preacher. (Not taking credit – the glory belongs to God – but it sure shows that the struggle was worth it).

  8. I love having and seeing parents bring their little children to church. We have a 2 yr old and a 3 yr. old that sit in worship service yes they make racket but they are Gods children
    and they can learn more by being in worship than u think.

  9. There was a very young couple who tried for such a long time to have a child but just couldn’t and now we all know why. They have a beautiful adopted little girl now. When they first brought her to church and I heard her crying over my right shoulder and to the back corner of the church my first thought was, ‘Thank you God for supplying us and that family with crying from one of your blessed children. They will raise her up in Your church to love You with all her heart, mind, and soul.’
    To me the crying from that particular part of the church was a God Send. God knew when she was to be born and who was to raise her for Him. God is good!

      • My husband and I were one of those families hoping to have a child. We prayed and went through the process to adopt, and then God surprised us with a biological child. I remember the Sundays when it was hard to go to church (when struggling with infertility, just after the loss of my dad), and now when I attend church with my son, I think of all the things God has done in my life since then. Anyway, I’ve felt uncomfortable leaving my son in the nursery as he’s younger, due to germs. So I just bring a blanket, and we all just camp out as a family on the blanket, at the back of church. and what I’ve noticed is that I’ve seen at least one other family doing the same. We stay there unless our son gets really noisy. If that happens, we just step outside the sanctuary, where there are sofas set up for parents and a TV to watch the sermon. Thank you for this article. It was encouraging. :)

  10. I use to think my children could not possibly get anything out of church but as the week would go on they would mention something about what the pastor said, so they hear more than we ever realize. Don’t stop going, you hear things that God will bring back to your memory when you need it!

    • We may think they are not paying attention. We may also think they are not getting anything out of it. One Sunday, the Pastor asked a question and no adults answered. My 3 year old did! He was shocked and pleased at the same time. So, just because they are fidgety, trying to dance, trying to do ANYTHING to stay awake, don’t think they aren’t listening.

  11. Love this!!!! As a mom of 4 children (13, 9 y.o. twins and 4 month old) I have felt this way many times!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are blessed to have a pastor that before he started at our church, said he didn’t mind noisy children and not to take them out . Even if one gets loose and goes to him, he just picks them up and keeps on preaching. We have one mom that has 2 loud boys and a neice she is raising and just let us know she is pregnant again. Her husband works out of town and doesn’t get to come often. I see the frustration on her face often and wish I knew how to encourage her. Going to print this and give to her. Thank you!!

    • We recently were talking about how to help those parents who perhaps attend without a spouse and my father-in-law suggested two things. Inviting one of the children to sit with you, then using that time to help train them to sit quietly, or going over and sitting with that single mother/father and reinforcing to the children their parent’s authority/desire for behavior in church.

      • Really like this idea. I have had kids sit with us while Mom quieted an infant. Or just because all our kids are grown. I usually carry some fruit snacks or some other little snack and let the kids have it if they sit and listen or quietly color in the church provided coloring pages. We have clipboards, pages that relate to the sermon and small trays of crayons at the entrance to the sanctuary. we also have flyers for the older children that have word finds, mazes, etc that relate to the sermon. But, as much as the mom or dad thinks their child is too loud, I for one love to hear the sound of children in church.

    • Amy, you might want to encourage another mom who may have grown children to assist the other lady. I have had to raise 2 children alone in the pew because my husband was busy preaching. At our current church there is a young mom who’s husband works on Sundays, I have stepped in and helped her, she is very appreciative.

  12. So happy to have a church home where children are embraced and encouraged to move around and exert their energy as needed. One Sunday before service our pastor started to wonder why there was applause was coming from the sanctuary. My son who was just starting to talk was standing at the front babbling and raising his arms. Every time he raised his arms, the church burst into applause and laughter. The pastor started the service by saying that there was no way he could top that!

  13. What about the people who want to attend to the pastor and honestly find the fidgety four year old distracting? What about the person with extra sensitivities, be it from age, or processing disorders who is genuinely disturbed by the crying and fussing of your still colicky 12 month old? Is there a time when it serves the church better to stay out of the service with your child? And to what lengths do we go to quiet our children for the benefit of others- do small toys, books, coloring pages, even iPads distract too much from the reason we are there, or are they simply a helpful tool for quieting (and distracting) the small child in a church service. Should we cut out candy during the week so they are content to sit and suck a hard candy during the church service?
    Those who want quiet are not all pharisaical. . . some have a valid point. As a mother with noisy little kids, I just struggle with this stuff. . . anyone else?

    • Julie, you make a great point. However, I think perspective is always helpful. I’m speaking about extremes, though. I’ve heard from more parents who avoid church because of the fuss their children make, and those young families need to be in church. Those families are cautious of the sensitivities of others, but to an extreme of neglecting their own relationship with God. I, too, prefer quiet when I preach or learn, and I’m an A-type personality, but I’ve conditioned myself to appreciate children and extend parents grace, because we were there too. When you have reckless parents who do nothing, that can be another extreme, but many parents will excuse themselves with their children when they continue to be unruly.

    • The church we are currently in has one teacher who has my kids every Worship service and Sunday school (3hrs! every Sunday! for months!) – the only way for her to get into a worship service is if I stay home or sit in the nursery with them. The intolerant folks who refuse to help and complain bitterly if there is a peep made during a service will be getting a shock soon as we will be beginning to bring the kids to service twice a month. I have brought them to services in other churches. I try to keep the toys, books, coloring pages, etc. Bible related. Since my husband is the pastor I have the benefit of knowing the sermon topic so can usually find something to correlate with the message. If you ask your pastor for a topic and let him know why he should be willing to at least tell you that (I have visited 2 churches that have a group of ladies who create a bag for the kids every week that bring the main points of the sermon to their level). I never pass anything out during the singing portion of worship – they can sing and dance. Snacks are an absolute last resort (we can’t get crumbs on the carpet! No one has ever heard of vacuuming the sanctuary lol).
      If they are truly being disruptive during times when quiet is more necessary – communion, preaching – I will take them out or maybe let them run up to the pulpit for daddy to hold :)

      • We never got out our toys, etc. until all the preliminaries were finished and the pastor stood up to talk. Then the older children got pieces of paper with a few key words from the title of the message and the words ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ and they kept track of how many times the pastor said these words and then handed them to the pastor at the end of the services. Kind of like handing in your work at the end of the school day.

    • I hope every church can have a nursery, I think is a good way to help young mothers to rest and enjoy the message. I’m helping at my church with the babies (is a bless :) and I think is fair for little kids to have a fun time with toys, snaks, friendship, Bible songs. Sometimes, message time can be to long for a little kid and it can be a little stressful for moms, and in this case, we as a church we need to help with joy. We can get turns with the kids, that deserve atention and love too. Elderly people can be very sensitive to noise, and we can respect this too, We can find the way to help the Pastor to do his job at helping young moms with their babies (always with love). But if ever there is no one to help, is gonna be always great to have kids with everything what to be a child bears (cuteness, hapyness, smiles, jumps, cries, etc. ) because they are the future and they are precious to God, so there is not reason to not attend church :), let us love and help one another in the love of God. Thank you (Steven) for taking the time to encourage young moms.

    • I think I am the one loner agreeing with you Julie. I have 2 “now adult” girls and my husband and I would go to separate services when they were very little. We started going as a family when they were about four or five and we could explain what a beautiful time church was, that it was God’s house, etc., and they could comprehend the reason for being respectful of others. I don’t feel that you are being disagreeable. I’m not speaking of those children that make some noise, but speaking of the many times during the entire service the child is crying and escalating to screams, and the parents spend the whole service trying to deal with it. Its not respectful of others who are trying to listen to the pastor, really partake, etc. I apologize in advance for offending, but there has to be some common sense as well.

      • I agree that an all-out assault of noise is disrespectful. Still, there are times when I preach when I simply pause when that happens. I’m proud that parents are there, and many lack the awareness that their children are being disruptive, but this article was more for those who fear that every little thing disrupts the entire worship. There has to be balance in all things, not just extremes.

      • I believe children absolutely belong in service. That being said if all one hears during service is parents shushing their children or a child just doing whatever they want, even throwing a tantrum, it does not benefit anybody. While Jesus did say Bring the children unto me, it can be taken out of text also.That is exactly why there are nurseries,and services for children at many churches. We all need to be fed the Word and we all need to respect everyone.In our church we have had newly restored pews and carpets written on with permanent marker, gum stuck under the seats and even tears in the carpeting, as well as hymn books ripped and torn. These parents seem to let their children do whatever it takes to have them be quiet.I adore children and can’t say enough wonderful things about them. Church is suppose to be a place where all are welcome and one should not have to have lots of distractions for that short time frame, so they can move forward in their week to spread the love of Christ. If children can be basically quiet, fine. However if all the attention is focused on the child that is not right either.

      • The problem is that banning children from the service for the reasons cited above doesn’t address the real problem: poor parenting skills. This is passive aggressive approach to dealing with the problem of bad/neglectful/poor parenting because we’re too afraid to address the real concerns directly.

    • YES! I struggle with noise in general and my son, oh wow is he loud. I prefer kids stay in the nursery. I really want to be able to hear and concentrate and if a baby is crying, I cannot. I know this is my problem, but if there is a place for children, then I say they should there. It is not bad to want kids in the nursery. It is just logical. You can still teach them about God anywhere and everywhere.

      • There is a place for children in every church: in the pew beside their parents. While there are appropriate times for a nursery, during the Sunday morning service isn’t one of them. Teach the children how to behave in church. If you’re teaching them properly outside of church, then it’s not hard. This is logical, not banishing all children to a nursery where they will never learn how to behave in church.

    • I am one of those who is easily distracted by the constant sound of children playing in the pews and aisles, the parents having non-whispered chat with their kids, the sound of paper and food packages crackling, and the like. I try to look at it as my problem and I leave the main worship center if it becomes too difficult for me to stay, but I think my issue is not the child who is being taught to sit still in worship, or the baby who cries and we hear that until the child is comforted or removed. It is the parents who conduct a child care in the middle of the worship hall and don’t seem even to notice that the pews all around them are empty of other people. I recognize that the little ones should be in church and the parents shouldn’t have to miss church because they have children, but maybe some compromise of kids in worship during the singing and communion times but maybe going to nursery during the message. I know some parents who take this road because their children are unable yet to sit quietly, or mostly quietly, during the service. And yes, it is not the kids who need the discipline but the parents.

  14. This article really spoke to me. I actually once received an anonymous letter in the mail asking me to keep my children out of church because they were a disturbance. It took me a long time to recover with that and make my peace with church.

    • I would have been VERY tempted to send them the passage where Jesus speaks about that. (I think was referenced in the article) I would definitely take it to the pastor.

      • I would have gotten up in front of church during announcements and read the letter aloud for all to hear then read the passage about Jesus wanting the little children to be brought to Him. I would have pointed out that if somebody else is that disturbed by my children being in church then they probably need some practice focusing in on Jesus. If someone is deep in prayer then its not a problem to block out squirmy kids.

    • I understand that!! My family and I were attending a church and were repeatedly asked if we’d like to use the nursery for our 10 month old. We refused, primarily because I didn’t know anyone working in the nursery and just felt more comfy with her in my lap. She enjoyed the service immensely, laughing and singing (NOT fussing). During the service, we were AGAIN asked about the nursery, and again politely refused. Someone then approached my husband, asked him to follow him out of the service with our daughter, and proceeded to tell him that the pastor has “A.D.D.” and my daughter was a distraction. We left immediately. I’d NEVER been made to feel so unwelcome… and at a church of all places. We didn’t attend church for a couple of months, but now we’ve found one that has a nursery available but doesn’t push it. And babies are are everywhere in the service each Sunday!
      We used to attend a church and there was a special needs girl in the service with her parents every Sunday. It never failed, she always yelled out in service, sometimes loudly even during prayer. Our pastor NEVER checked up… and sometimes would even encourage her… like agreeing with her. Her noises became such a blessing to us, we would miss her when she was absent.

      Pastor has A.D.D. and is distracted??? Maybe you’re in the wrong line of service, buddy.

      • You would have thought that if it was that big of an issue, they would have addressed it during the week instead of dragging you out of service to tell you. And at that, why didn’t the preacher state that he was being distracted? Kinda makes me wonder if it was the preacher or that man/wife who had the issue.

        I am glad that your family has found a place to worship!

  15. Well this is a great story remember we are all children of Jesus..and in the bible it mention children he one off top of head and have seen and witnessed several times children will lead sinners to Christ.and I had rather here candhildren then a decon or man snoring or women wrihting and a good GOD called preacher will just preacher louder if need be .Yoiung mothers that is just santan tryin to keep you out of church and be a Godly women from rasing her family up in the way of the lord .They will never learn if you do nurseyor stay home I say o to church more

  16. Pingback: To You Who Bring Small Children To Church | Jonathan R. Baker

  17. I love everyone of these little ones, I love to hear their little sounds, and they always sound louder to the parents than they do to us,keep on bringing them they are precious to us and in the eyes of God

    • ”JESUS”LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN!!!! I have had many children in my life!!!! I GAVE BIRTH TO ONLY ONE!!!!! ”LOVE OF MY LIFE” DEVERY GREENE,CORP!!!!!!! TAUGHT CHILDREN CHURCH AND NURSERY!!!!! AND PRESCHOOL….. MY “FOSTER CHILDREN”!!!!! HAVE COMPLEATLY;;FORGOTTEN ABOUT THEM!!!! MY HUSBAND AND I KEPT,AT LEST….12!!!!!????? OR MORE!!! THEY WOULD COME RIGHT OUT OF HOSPITAL…TO OUR HOME AND WE WOULD KEEP THEM UNTIL THERE “REAL PARENTS” CAME TO GET THEM!!PEOPLE SAY”HOW CAN YOU DO THAT??? REPLY..”,.HOW COULD WE ”NOT”,,,,,,”NOT DO THAT????

  18. I AM A PASTOR AT EMMANUEL BAPTIST IN MCALESTER WE HAVE A FIVE YEAR OLD THATS MAKES MORE NOISE THAN THE REST COMBINED MY WIFE TRYIES TO KEEP HIM UNDER CONTROL SOMETIMES SHE TAKES HIM OUT FOR AWHILE EVEN FOR A SPANKING WHEN NESSNARY THE CHURCH UNDERSTANDS AND LOVES THE CHILDREN IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE THEY.RE NOT ABSORBING NOTHING,BUT THIS CHILD TALKS TO MOST EVERY ONE HE SEES ABOUT JESUS INCLUDEING DOCTORS AND TEACHERS HE PROBABLY WITNESSES MORE THAN MOST OF US ADULTS GOD SAID RAISE THEM IN THE WAY THEY SHOULD GO AND CHURCH IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR US ALL PS YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN ARE INVITED.

  19. A response to the paragraph: “The family who’s unable to have children notice you too. They’d love to be in your shoes….They’d love to talk to you for a little while about the joys of your children. They need you.” My wife and I are that family. We for some reason cannot have children. We have tried to adopt but have also had that fail. We love the children who are in our church, and are glad to see them, especially since we realize that the church is always one generation away from extinction. However, I believe you spoke in ignorance when you say that we wish to spend some time talking about the joys of their children. We do not. We cannot. Having no children of our own after 17 years of marriage, especially when we have wanted them, is painful. What we need from parents is to understand where we are. We not only tolerate, but embrace their noisy children. But we never receive any understanding in return. What we need is love and understanding without the questionis of when we are going to have children, and without nearly 100% of the conversation revolving around their children. That’s what we need.

    • Sam, I’m sorry that you and your wife are unable to have children. I cannot imagine what that must be like.

      I’m sure you understand that your situation and the one I depicted is not a one-size-fits-all statement. While you may not want to hear about such things because of your pain, others have found peace in their circumstances and do enjoy living through others.

      As something that is divinely encouraging, there was a family at the last church where I preached who was told by two different specialists that they could never have children. When we first began our work with that congregation, God blessed them with a little girl. God is sovereign over barrenness as we read of in Scripture (e.g., Sarai, Hannah, etc.). I believe He can bless your family too, and I wish and hope that for you and your bride.

      Blessings to you both.

      • Steven,
        First of all, thank you for the extended response. I took the chance of being a little vulnerable there to give a voice to those of us who suffer largely in silence. Children are a joy, one that should be shared with others. And I do not wish to discourage that from your post. We NEED our next generation to be raised in the nurturing environment of the church; one cannot fall back on their childlike faith in adulthood as easily if it not developed in their formative years. We also believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and we still hold out hope that we can have a child of our own someday. What I am asking for is that the understanding that we give to parents of disruptive children be reciprocated our way. We are simply always asked to give, give, give of our love and understanding, but rare is it that people are sensitive, much less care to understand our own sorrow.

      • Sam, what you say makes absolute sense.

        Not to excuse the lack of sensitivity towards your family’s heartache, but I would suppose that many aren’t as sensitive to your family’s needs because it is so rare. Again, that doesn’t make any insensitivity excusable, but people are sometimes ignorantly insensitive as I was.

        There was an elderly couple who were friends with my grandparents. Their children were mentally handicapped and would never have children, so they knew that they would never have grandchildren. However, when I was born — my grandparent’s first child — the other couple asked my family if they could “adopt” me as their grandchild. The entire time I grew up, I always thought I had a third set of grandparents. I didn’t know the difference. I loved them as grandparents, and they loved me as their grandson. I was even gifted a portion of their estate upon their deaths.

        Granny and Grandpa Purcell were so precious to me. They taught me so much. I’d spend summers with them and enjoyed being a part of their lives. I guess I tell you this because, as a sort of adopted grandson, they meant and still mean the world to me.

        If it isn’t God’s plan for you to ever have your own or adopt, I hope He will give you the blessing of being to some child or children what granny and grandpa Purcell were to me. There was nothing legal about this adoption. It was an adoption from the heart, and no one can tell me that they weren’t my grandparents. Sure, we weren’t biologically related, but it’s not always about biology. It’s about love.

        Having that relationship with them and their children — who I treated as an aunt and uncle — really helps me to understand the adoption we’ve received through Christ our Lord. It’s a beautiful thing.

      • Steven, thank you for that reply to Sam, it is just what I would say myself! Sam, I have a daughter who lives in another state, my son-in-law’s family don’t live there either and as they are expecting my first grand baby the first thing I suggested is that they adopt surrogate grandparents who are local. May God richly bless you with children and grandchildren whether your own (biological or adopted) or surrogate. Every kid can use more grandparents, or aunts and uncles.

      • Steven, I appreciate the article very much, as well as your response to Sam. I have to say this, though. Sam’s situation, unfortunately, is not so rare. Infertility is incredibly common (millions of couples). What’s not common is a discussion about it. It is shrouded with secrecy, embarrassment and shame. The understanding that children are a blessing from The Lord makes it seem as if we who struggle with infertility have done something to be less deserving of His blessings. And we feel people would secretly (or not so secretly) pass the same judgement on us. (I once shared a struggle with a pastor about a sin in my life. He also knew about my infertility, as did the small congregation. The next sermon’s topic was that sin and the question came from the pulpit “how many women in here can’t have children because of this sin in their lives?” Ouch.)

        All of that to say, yes, we who have a hard time having biological children adore and embrace other children. It is, however, often incredibly painful and I know I questioned whether God was holding out on me. When speaking privately with other struggling couples, the general sense I get from them is that I am not the only one who feels that way. There may be some who are genuninely content. But there are many more who feel it is simply not acceptable at church to admit that you are in pain over God’s current plan for your life and that you are wondering where He is in your struggle; we believe we are supposed to be joyful and thankful and if we are anything less than that, others will think there is something wrong in our heart. We are told to buck up, thank God for His other blessings, trust His timing and enjoy the time together alone. True enough. But people who haven’t been there forget Hannah, who wept often and cried at the altar for a child. For those who are dealing with infertility, the only altar that feels safe enough to weep at is often the one in our heart. There tends to be a mask put over the rest to hide the deep and very real pain childlessness can bring.

        Praise be to God, after years of trying, we have had a daughter. And I thank God that our current pastor and congregation prayed with us for her and now welcome her noises when she is in the service with us. But having been in a place similar to Sam, I never want to forget to be respectful to those who are struggling. And even though it can be uncomfortable to see others suffering and have no answers to the questions “why?”, I’d just encourage other believers and leaders to love them where they are.

        I don’t mean to detract from your overall point of the article. It is very good and encouraging to parents to be reminded that they should feel comfortable to bring their children to church. I am thankful for you and the many more pastors who are beginning to see this.

      • Thank you for your comments. This past Mother’s Day was the first one that I took time to acknowledge those who were mothers at heart, but without children.

      • Sam,
        Oh how well I can understand your pain and struggle. I have severe health issues that prevent us from having children, adopting, or fostering. Yet one of the first questions we get asked by everyone (new and old friends) alike is when are you guys having kids or why don’t you have kids by now? This is a private pain for us that we rarely want to share with anyone. It just kills us emotionally when we hear parents complain about their kids. I agree that people need to be more sensitive towards those of us without children. I will admit that there have been a couple sundays during the year that unless we are visiting family (so we’re out of town) we won’t even go to our home church because of this lack of sensitivity. Those sundays being mothers day and fathers day its just to painful. When we do try going I normal would get so upset I would sob for the rest of the day. My hubby and I are slowly learning peace about this. I’ll be praying you and your wife gain some as well

    • I am so glad you posted this because we also are also the couple who cannot have children and you spoke my heart.

    • Sam, I have been involved with many couples in your situation. I would suggest taking the opportunity to work with the youth program at your church. Become the Aunt & Uncle to all the kids in the church. And when asked when you are going to have children, the answer should be when God sees fit. I would also guess that at your age, just about everyone around you lives revolve around thier child, therefore topic of conversation is somewhat limited. Bear with us parents, our kids will grow up and our other interests will become important again when we have time to invest into those topics. Could you start a small group meeting at your church that woul d reach out to other couples in your situation.

      • Preacher’s wife-Thank you for your suggestions, but please hear this. Your suggestions sound great on paper. I was a high school teacher in a Catholic HS for 6 years. Those students became my kids. But every day they went home to their parents, and my wife (who was not a teacher) and I would be left alone again. Getting involved in the lives of other youth does not fill the void that being childless creates. Don’t get me wrong-I treasured the chapter in my life where I was able to teach HS, and I’m glad that I had an impact on many of their lives. In fact, I was able to stop and talk to one of my former students last night and was happy for it. But the void is never filled. As to your suggested answer of “when God sees fit”…yeah, I’ve used it, and it doesn’t help. Please be real. God may never “see fit” in our situation. It happens. I don’t mean to sound overly grumpy, but your response is full of the types of suggestions that my wife and I hear, and then we just shake our heads and tell each other that the person who is offering them just doesn’t understand. And I pray that you never have to understand, b/c I do not wish for others to walk this road.

  20. I am 78 years old and still remember,, the sweet sounds of my parents and the congregation singing or praying when I was a toddler.Our children were always with us in church. So many times, I see parents take a little one out and never return. Smart little ones soon figure that a little noise and they will get to go out to play. Ours knew that going out was to go to ” a secret place”. They were scolded and made to go back in. That only happened a few times. They realized it didn’t work. When they got a bit older, we did teach them that perhaps the person behind them would miss what was being said and might miss Heaven because of their behavior.

  21. As a new pastor in a small church that has a large number of “non adults” I truly understand the point you are making. I do have a question. Would you consider it a compromise to have the children attend the vast majority of the service and then have them go to a more kid friendly environment during the message.

    • Brian,

      I think it’s a case-by-case basis. The way we reared our children was to train them at home, first. That way, when it was time to pray they knew what to do and so on. Personally speaking, the part that I play is not the most important part of worship. When the Christians met in the first century, they met in homes, so there weren’t nursery’s. Also, when they met, it seemed to focus primarily on the Lord’s Supper according to 1 Corinthians 11ff.

      It’s not unreasonable to do this, though. I just think it’s placing too much importance on me speaking. Granted, it’s God’s Word, but Jesus spoke God’s Word too and rebuked His disciples when they rebuked parents who brought infants and children to Him.

      • I agree. My thought is that taking them to a place where a kid friendly atmosphere exists will allow them to understand a message in terms they can understand and the only thing they would miss out on is the sermon that might be over their heads a bit.

      • Oh, I see now. Yes, I think that’s a great idea. Children do learn differently from adults. Having a “children’s church” has proved effective by several congregations that I know of.

      • Personally, I like the idea of having a children’s church where they get a kids version of the sermon! My grandparents church had a kids time mini sermon where all us kids would go up and sit on the stage where the pastor would sit with us and give us the kid-sermon before the grown-ups sermon. Then some things in the sermon made more sense because the pastor explained them in the kid-sermon. :)

      • Brian
        Our church actually does this we call it cross training. Typically our team works together and tries to tie in the two messages so the kids are hearing a “kid-friendly” lesson on the same topic and/or passage in the Bible that their parents are hearing in the auditorium. Cross training is offered for our 3 year olds through 3rd graders. In this way, they are in service with their parents through several worship songs, prayers, announcements and communion. After communion, we sing a song and the parents that elect to send their kids to cross training take them during the song.
        I like this option because my kids are still getting a lesson and not just playing in the nursery. I know that it depends on the leader that week but I try to tailor my lesson where the kids are interacting but also unknowingly practicing sitting and listening, singing, etc. for longer periods of time.

        My husband and I give our 5 year old the choice and 95% of the time he chooses “Children’s church” because it is interactive but on occasion he stays with us and does really well.

    • Brian
      Our church actually does this we call it cross training. Typically our team works together and tries to tie in the two messages so the kids are hearing a “kid-friendly” lesson on the same topic and/or passage in the Bible that their parents are hearing in the auditorium. Cross training is offered for our 3 year olds through 3rd graders. In this way, they are in service with their parents through several worship songs, prayers, announcements and communion. After communion, we sing a song and the parents that elect to send their kids to cross training take them during the song.
      I like this option because my kids are still getting a lesson and not just playing in the nursery. I know that it depends on the leader that week but I try to tailor my lesson where the kids are interacting but also unknowingly practicing sitting and listening, singing, etc. for longer periods of time.

      My husband and I give our 5 year old the choice and 95% of the time he chooses “Children’s church” because it is interactive but on occasion he stays with us and does really well.

  22. We have many, many children in our church service – it’s very noisy – and that’s how it should be. Those little ones are just making a “joyful noise unto the Lord”! If their struggling parents continue to bring them to church, they’ll be much more likely to be there when they are grown.

  23. God put their wiggles in and He will take them out. This is a lovely article,He loves the little children in a very special way. We can learn to love more from them. The children are best innocent little souls.

  24. Would you mind if I put this in my church newsletter? I have made really made me think about children in church. Our children were in church all the time unless they were sick and I remember how hard it was at times. Children need to be in church and see how we worship and how important worship is to God.

  25. Love this article. It is hard bringing your toddler to church and even worse when you feel uncomfortable at every noise made by them.

  26. I needed this! Every Sunday I bring my 3 year old daughter to “big church” as we call it and every Sunday I hold my breath. I enjoy her coming with me because I feel that she’ll get more out of church being in worship than she will being in a room with a bunch of toys. I try to silence her with snacks and coloring but she still seems to get restless. Even though I do get aggravated I have older women each Sunday what a joy it was to watch her during church! Then I feel like I have to apologize for the disruption, but now I understand why they are watching her. God works in mysterious ways doesn’t he?

  27. The only time I find the kids distracting, and others might also, is during decision time at the end of the service. Someone may be contemplating their decision for Christ and then a kid is crying or being disruptive and this distracts that person from allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them. I don’t mind kids making noise, but I do think parents owe it to the respect of where we are to take them out if they are too distracting. Most churches have wonderful kids programs and the kids love them! We wouldn’t expect our kids to sit thru a high school or college level class and be interested. They need to be taught in a way they understand. Just my thoughts.

    • I agree that parents share a great responsibility in disciplining their children. However, I’d add to your comments that the complacency of many Christians during this time is more distracting — to me — than crying babies, because those looking to yield in obedience to Christ will often notice (I think) the detached Christians around them.

  28. Thank you so much for writing this article. I am printing it to put on our church bulletin…! What a blessing you’ve written the words I’ve tried so long to figure out how to share with the grouchy ones. Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

  29. I always felt embarrassed when I had to walk out to change a smelly diaper. Now I realize that is a blessing.

  30. When we attended the huge catholic church. having a baby crying or children being children made hearing the service very difficult and disturbing the sounds would echo. WE changed to a smaller more intimate church. Episcopalian 3 major things help parents with smaller children 1 its not a huge echoing palace like place so sounds don’t vibrate all over.2 there is a bible school program for children over 3 , 3 in the back of there is a small area with a rocker and some toys etcc . the church also hosts a daycare center in the basement, so many parents of extremely fussy children can go there. but guess what not many have to do so.

    • Some parents can take my post too liberally to mean that their children should run wild, but I agree that if children persist in a state of unrest that parents might need to excuse themselves.

    • I am sorry to hear you left the Catholic Church due to the noise level in the church. As a late in life Catholic, one who has belonged to several other churches (Lutheran, Episcopal, Congregational), I have found the Catholic Church to be the one and only. Please consider returning to raise your children in THE faith. I love the sound of children in church, they are our future.

  31. I love this article. We were one of those couples not able to have biological children and God blessed us with two adopted children. The first one was over a year old when he came into our home. It was challenging at times taking him to the services with us. Our church had always had a nursery and children’s church available but we wanted to train him from the start to sit in church. We knew he could learn something. Some of the people in the church were not open to that and almost every Sunday we got “hints” from them that a nursery was available or they would take him out for us. We smiled and replied “no thanks”. If he was really disruptive one of us took him to the nursery and he sat on our lap while we listened and watched the service on the closed circuit TV. He was not getting rewarded by being allowed to play. He learned to sit through the service and is now 11 years old and still attending church with us as a family. Our second son was only 3 months old and it was much easier training him from that age to be in the service. They can learn if others in the church will be a little tolerant. Thank you for this encouragement for those of young children.

    • Good for you! Some people just don’t understand or don’t want to understand. Glad you did what you did.

  32. I believe that usually the frustration of the congregation does not lie so much in fussy or noisy children, but more in the parents who make no effort to curtail it. This goes for restaurants, movie theatres…anywhere that people are trying to enjoy themselves without being disturbed by others. I have never had a problem with a small child talking or crying (it’s what they do). For me, it always comes back to the parents who sometimes seem to do very little actual parenting.

    • I agree. I’d add that the primary focus of my article was for parents who are overly sensitive due to the ire of others brought on by the parents of whom you speak.

  33. I remember those days! My boys are both in the teen dept now. It takes time to train children to listen and sit still and be quiet during a “big people” service, but if they are never brought (and never have to be “dealt with” by taking them out), how will they ever learn?

    • Anita, I agree too. We are strict disciplinarians — my wife and me — so we didn’t put up with too much disruption, but we did allow them to be children. We’ve always received positive comments on how well behaved our children have been, and it’s because we’ve worked with them and not given up.

  34. I applaud your article, and believe that there is definitely a place for children in both the service itself, and in a church school that is designed to bring the message to them at their own level of understanding. Having been a teacher at a said church school for the 2 and 3 year old’s for many years (they were and still are my favorite age group), it was incredible to watch them learn, hear their questions and see the seeds of faith being built in those classes. We were still able to get a copy of the message preached as the church workers were given CD’s with the days message on it in exchange for their service. The one issue that I want to bring up is again the issue of sensitivity. Being a single person over the age of 50, I too get many questions/comments made about my singleness. And, trying to be in a church of families if very difficult, especially when meaningful relationships between those who are single and those who are married seem to be very difficult to find. I love the message about your adopted grand-parents, and ask that it be extended to those in church who are single and who are more than willing to become extended family. So often the singles are looked upon as great servants for the church, but not much more. If a change of heart could be made, I believe there would be more singles in churches and more extended families multiplying God’s love and devotion many times over! I know this is a little off topic, but your example really struck my heart. Thank you for letting me share.

    • Quiet right, Sharon. We have a young, single professional at church. We were speaking recently, and I told her that she didn’t need to feel different because she was unattached. If she wanted that life, that was her choice and life to live. We have several single elderly people who’ve never married, and they’re wonderful Christians and servants.

  35. Great message, but to add, the pastor and worship team have a responsibility to make worship engaging to the young as well. Worship is not just an adult activity – after all it is the family of God.

  36. All kids need to learn how to sit still and be quiet in church at some point. But I find some people are trying to bring their kids into the service when they’re still too young. And yes, some kids are better than others, no matter what age. But seriously, if you’re taking your kid out every single service for months on end, maybe consider waiting until he or she is a little older? No one will blame you, and will probably thank you. It is extremely disruptive when kids are yelling and screaming and refusing to sit still for all they’re worth. If they talk a little, no one will really think anything of it. But if even the minister pauses to wait for the screaming spell to pass (yes, this has happened), then you’re really not being that considerate to the rest of the congregation. That is all.

    • Talk about missing the point. If you’re taking your child out every week for months on end – GOOD FOR YOU. You’re teaching your child, and you’re persevering even though this season of life is challenging. Maybe consider some quiet activities like a magna-doodle or simple board books. Maybe consider having a brief age-appropriate family worship every day at home to practice quiet sitting. Don’t exclude your child from participating in the worship of God because you fear the opinions of others.

      My 2 year old doesn’t always sit still for the entirety of the service. Though sometimes he falls asleep while breastfeeding, during the worship service. I know, I know, in some circles the fact that I nursed him would be more offensive than the original minor toddler sounds. All I know is, if I’m sitting next to the pastor’s wife and she’s doing the same, I don’t think anyone’s going to ask us to leave.

      When my now-7-year-old was 2, we had to take her out every single week for a few months, because we didn’t allow her to be a distraction to others. But each week the amount of time she had to be out and the length of time she was capable of quietly sitting increased. But this came about not because we kept her from hearing the Word of God, but because we committed all the more to working with her to develop the ability to sit and not be disruptive (paying attention is a work in progress, and coming along alright).

      Interestingly, my high-energy boy never had to be taken out, or maybe only once or twice. He sat in the worship service from birth on. Yes, way too young, I know. However, in the Bible there are several instances where the people of God were told to gather together and the “nursing babies” were specifically included. I don’t see anywhere in scripture where we’re commanded to come worship the Lord within His house… except those pesky kids who make too much noise, they need to stay home until they can be seen and not heard.

    • Knowing there are at least a couple people in almost any church that are intolerant of distractions is what makes a lot of families with little ones (mine included) reluctant and apologetic about being in the church services. We have stayed home from church more than once for fear that our grumpy child would cause some ill-looks and tongue-wagging from some of the less tolerant folks in the crowd. Sometimes you find yourself weighing the guilt of being a disruption to other folks against the guilt of missing church.

      And while the majority of people I know are quite understanding, a few expect kids to behave as adults, or else be left at home where they aren’t bothering them. What about families with several kids? Once one was at an “appropriate” age to be allowed in the church, they could have another to keep quietly at home. But the parents of these children need to be in church too, for their own spiritual sake! Serving God isn’t just for folks who finally got their kids raised. We all need it. Especially if we want our kids to have a love of church and a love of God. Just this morning my little tot said to me, “Bye Mom, going to church!” He doesn’t understand it yet, but he knows he likes it. And that is a blessing in itself.

      Kids don’t come with an off-switch. They aren’t robots. They have to learn to be reverent in church, and it’s hard to do if they aren’t allowed in the church until they are school-aged. Parents have a duty to try to keep their children as well-behaved as possible, and their fellow congregation members have a duty to do their best to be forgiving if they are less than perfect.

  37. You can choose to be distracted and annoyed or you can pray that you will hear the word preached. Just as we train our children to sit quietly so we can train ourselves to hear the message, it’s your choice. If we truly want to hear the message we will tune out the minor noise.
    Pray that you have an attitude to hear the preacher.

  38. I have had people apologize to me after Mass because they’re child “didn’t sit still” or “kept turning around” or for some other reason. I always tell them never to apologize and that I am happy they are bringing their child/children to Church. We love to watch the children. And yes, we have been there before with our son who is 15 now and still attends Mass. Yes, we’ve been embarrassed at times but we kept bringing him back. He knows our feelings about going to Mass and how to act in the faith.

  39. Thank you for helping me to understand why these families need to be in church! Several families at our church allow their children to run around during services. These children yell and squeal, which makes it difficult to concentrate on one’s prayers and what is being said. Last week, one of the little boys was spitting on people and laughing. The mother did nothing, but several people gave disapproving looks as he sprayed them with saliva. Maybe the mother was praying for strength! I guess I will just have to be more tolerant when it’s my turn for a “shower” and remember that these parents need all the prayer they can get in.

  40. My little boy loves going to church. Right now it is his only social interaction. Many people at church love him even though he says no words to them yet, he lights up when they talk to him. I do nursery during the service since I want to hear the message, although I enjoy seeing the kids in service instead of always going into one of the kid rooms, and know he has a chance to play with toys, friends and hear about God on his level without being told my 14 month old is being too loud.

  41. When our children were small we experienced the realm of them being fussy to rowdy and just full of energy. We visited one church where we were singing and my youngest was about 2. He made laps around me while i was singing. The pastor got up and made comments about they should not be allowed to do that etc. Needless to say that was our last visit to that church! As a pw i would much rather have fussy children than no children in the church…Most of the time our churches have been made up of 95% people under the age of 25…those young people are important…and in my opinion if someone is gonna complain about a crying child (like ours once was, i’ve been there and even been asked to take them out to avoid disturbing the preacher way back in the day) well there’s the door!!

  42. I loved this article and many of the reply’s! Our pastor’s granddaughter is the loudest and CUTEST “AMEN!”-er there is. :D

  43. My view is that children should not be disruptive to a service. My parents did not take us to church when we were babies/toddlers. They waited until we could sit still which was about age 5. My mother said it was her hour of peace since she had 8 of us. My father went to the early service & she would attend the later. The church had no nursery & some families brought little ones along anyhow. That was their choice. I have been in churches with varying degrees of regard to small children. A couple of them encouraged the little ones & indeed I went to one where my babies & tots were playing in the aisle. Other places offered nurseries & junior church. My children were usually restless & I envied families that had their entire family quiet for the whole service. Our present church offers nursery, junior church, a nursing mothers’ room, and a foyer with chairs & area to take tots/babies to & yet they can still hear the sermon! Our pastors don’t always notice noisy babies, but the sound really carries! A couple of them had ask that the child be removed. It’s a matter of respect. For that matter, we have had churches that had disruptive adults be removed too! Parents & the church must help nurture and raise the generation to love the Lord. Whether it’s being involved in Sunday school, a club or good ol’ fashion listen to pastor preach, or a Bible reading at home, the Bible says to train up a child in the admonition of the Lord. It’s not specified that children are to only be seen & not heard & the children were creating a commotion in the Temple when Jesus came in! But the real point is that appropriate behavior is to be modeled & that the children learn to love the Lord God.

    • With churches dying out across the country, I am surprised at this. Many smaller/older/rural churches do not have a nursery, a space to put one anywhere, or multiple services. Suggesting to an expectant couple that they not bring their child to church while they are “babies/toddlers” might result in the family never coming to church again, even after their children are old enough to sit in service. I went to a church where the nursery had a TV that streamed the service into it; but what was the point of getting up, getting dressed, and coming to church to do that when you can watch TV services at home in your PJ’s? If you want a church to continue to thrive, you must have multiple generations coming together. As for appropriate behavior being modeled, I doubt the children are disruptive because the adults are modeling that behavior; they are just being children.

  44. Pingback: Church with 3 young kids…. | Making Memories in the Chaos

  45. We have 10 children and our first 8 were always brought to the nursery until they were old enough to sit still, with our 9th I stayed home a lot until she was almost a year, we then started to attend a different church and children were always part of the service did you know when you take them at a young age they can learn to be quiet, our 10th went along from the time she was born and it was very seldom I had to take her out of the meeting. children need to be disciplined from the day are born. no it does not need to be spanked at that age but a baby sure knows that they can get away with things at a very early age. teach them from the time they are born if they are not quiet tap their mouth softly and put a finger on your own mouth, it won’t be long and they soon know they have to be quiet, Some need more then others. we have lots of children in our meeting from now9 months to 9 years of old out of those there are 4 under 2 and the only thing you hear sometimes is a happy sound from the youngest one those over a year don’t talk or make noise. you don’t need to take toys in the meeting if you want to give them something start with a children’s bible, you have some nice ones today.

  46. I no longer go to church because I am selfish. I love my children, but my youngest at last we went would not stay with the kids in his group. He wanted me, I wanted to hear God. I couldn’t get one word out of the service and I felt more angry than when I entered the Church, because he wouldn’t settle down. I don’t mind other people’s children at all. I can tune them out, I can’t and will not tune out my own. There is now a great divide between God and I. While, this is great for those who feel guilty about disrupting a service for others, this post doesn’t help me.

    I also read a comment that people do nursery. My focus is on my children first. I have tried the nursery, I only hear my children and still miss the service completely. It’s frustrating and disheartening. Maybe one day I’ll return, but then it just might be too late for me.

    Great post, otherwise.

  47. Pingback: To The Christian Couple Unable to Have Children | Veritas Venator

  48. You should also add that they bring fun to the service, my 1 year old has a habit of objecting to the bands of marriage, it always brings a smile!

  49. My husband to be and I visited a church when we were pregnant. In the program it stated firmly that they have trained, certified childcare and that we were to use it. It was a deal-breaker for us, we were never back for services. I thought it was so sad that parents could not bring their children with them. Besides, some children don’t do well in nurseries or with strangers, or are prone to get sick. My child, now 8 always loved the music in church! Children in church is music to my heart.

  50. We actually attended a church for a bit who really discouraged children in the service. Each Sunday the preacher said that childcare was available and he would not want anyone to miss hearing the Gospel because a child was crying. I had a newborn at the time and was not comfortable leaving him in the nursery. His wife and his daughters, who were all married, tended to the kids in the nursery, and would often remind me that I could leave him with them. We moved to NC not long after that, and found a great church with a wonderful children’s program, but kids are always welcome in the service at any time.

  51. Your article brought back a lot of memories. When I was a young mom I was often alone with my 2 little ones because my husband traveled. We really hardly ever missed church. Now I can understand all the smiles and support I got from older saints who loved my kids, and admired me. I even made friends with older folks who would give me clothing from their own grandchildren, some of whom did not go to church. Maybe that is why it blessed their hearts to see me with my children in church?
    Today my children are grown, but I still serve in the nursery. Why? To allow young parents who would like to attend the worship service have a respite from childcare for an hour or so. I love having a chance to minister to them this way!

  52. Thank you for this post! I often feel so frustrated and embarrassed dealing with my 18 month old daughter in church every Sunday morning. Stickers, crayons, food, milk, repeat lol I felt like you wrote this to me :) I needed to hear this to reassure me I am doing the right thing….which I am :))

  53. Pingback: To You Who Bring Small Children to Church | thepowerandthelaurie

  54. Just when you think your young child isn’t paying attention, they are. My son was 3 years old in church coloring. My Dad (the preacher) asked a question….”Who is going to save us from our sins?” My son, at 3 years old, answered “Jesus” very loudly so the whole church could hear. He knew the answer and wasn’t afraid to say it! To that my Dad answered “That was my Grandson. The little children are listening. Be sure to teach them about Jesus!”

    • So true. My son and daughter have often answered aloud when I’ve asked rhetorical questions. They pick up on more than we realize.

  55. I feel that children should attend church but if your child is totally out of control and I’m talking screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, throwing whatever they can get their hands and I have witnessed this behavior that you should most definitely take your child outside or into the restroom until they calm down and then go back to your seat and enjoy the rest of the service!

  56. I am very grateful that you took the time to write this. I started going back to mass regularly when I was pregnant with my third…haven’t missed on since. But last spring, while at mass with my then 7,5, and 20 month old…the littlest would not sit. She screamed kicked and absolutely refused. Even after three tooth destroying lollipop bribes, she could not be calmed. I am generally prepared but nothing in my diaper bag of solutions would help. It didn’t help that the older two took advantage of my distraction and were poking each other behind my back. I could feel the eyes on me. I did all I could not to meet the glares…I was one of maybe five with children but all the others were behaving, while we were the laughing stock. A woman got up mid mass and came clear across the church…told me I might want to consider going to the back room….I could still hear there. Well if they all weren’t
    Looking before they were by then. I was mortified. I apologized for my children and left with my daughter fussing the entire way out. I called my parents horrified bawling my eyes out. I honestly wasn’t even sure what part of the mass it was. I avoided that particular parish for a few weeks and attended mass elsewhere but I missed the pastors sermons. So I went back…hoping I wouldn’t be recognized…but I walked in and saw many more smiles than I had ever noticed before. I wondered ….why are these strangers smiling at me? Why is it I don’t see eyes rolling? Then I got it…..so I thank you….because I see the smiles as my now better behaved two year old sings along and cheers at the end of the songs. She blesses herself and the people smile and point as she walks herself to communion with me, hands in prayer. I am glad I stuck it out…well at least I am until she pitches another fit! Thank you again!

  57. I am a mom/foster/adopt mom…me and my husband of 21 years have a 17 and 14 yr old girls bio and we have adopted an 8,6,and 4 yr old boys and a 1 yr old girl and we are now fostering a 20 month old little girl….yes we take up a full pew with 7 children. But we make an effort to bring them and have them set quietly with their Bibles or books while service is going on. Our preacher is the best and always reminds us that we are doing the right thing by bringing them to church with us…they might get passed from pew to pew as our friends help us out. We LOVE our church family and yes the 5 small children makes noises but what child doesn’t? They learn to listen and get excited every Sunday when they get to go and learn more about God. I believe it’s best to take your children with you and if their is someone that does not agree they can go somewhere else…sorry buy the doors are open for all children! Bless you for writing this article! The Spencer’s

  58. My dad is a Methodist minister and he always says that children never bother him. He says that some of his best sermons are based on the stories he has to tell about things that have happened in church. Like what children do during the children’s moments and some of the answers that they have, or when a child innocently answers his question that he ask from the pulpit during the sermon. Sometimes parents get frazzled and take their kids out but my dad never misses a beat regardless of what is going on. My dad had to survive a son that started out at the back of the church and crawled under the pews until he reached the front and once he got there, he was usually down to his diaper. I have 3 boys of my own and they are very close in age. I won’t say that they have always behaved in church because we all know that is not the truth but when I see my toddler pray or my older ones recite the Apostle’s Creed and know the traditions of our church or when they tell me something they have learned, I know that I am doing the right thing and that they are taking some of it in. It touches my heart.

  59. I’m not a parent, but I do have a 3 year old nephew, who I do take to church with me every time he is staying the night with my mom and I. Usually on Sunday mornings, my mom is working so it’s up to me to get me and him up and dressed for church. My grandma would pick us up and during service, he can sit there and be so behaved and quiet. He used to always fuss and make noise but I never took him out. I just told him to sit there and be quiet and usually he would listen. But one Sunday I walked back to the Sunday School room he was in and overheard the young children praying, and I heard his voice saying “God thank you for making Aunt Beth have so much patience with me while I am trying to learn to behave. I see the looks Granny (my grandma and his great-grandma) gives me when I don’t behave, but Aunt Beth just whispers nice and soft in my ear telling me to be quiet or I won’t get any dessert. One day help me help her keep my little sister (she’s 7 months old) quiet during church too.” I cried when I heard that because I didn’t even notice the little looks my grandma gives him.

    Thank you for this post, Steven. As an aunt trying to teach her nephew and niece about going to church and being quiet, it can be hard.

  60. It’s interesting that most of the replies are from young parents, and not from former children! I’m in my mid-20s, but I can remember clearly that as a toddler my parents made me sit with them in service. I was allowed to do three things during the service:

    1. Color with a single pencil on a single piece of paper (So, it had to last if I didn’t want to get bored after the first prayer, a dilemma in which I often found myself as a toddler until I realized I could draw lots of little pictures instead of one big one, and that the back of the paper was just as usable as the front.)
    2. Read anywhere in the Bible I wanted. (When your little 1st grade mind is bored, there’s some pretty awesome stuff in there that’s more interesting than the sermon. I was never made to feel guilty that I was reading the Bible instead of listening to the pastor, because my parents loved to hear me tell them all about the cool stuff I found.)
    3. Flip through the hymn book. (I know words to songs I can’t sing, just because I thought they were pretty.)

    That’s all I was allowed to do to occupy myself, but I always had to sit, stand or sing with the rest of the congregation. If I got fidgety, I ended up on my dad’s lap, pinioned uncomfortably against his bony chest until I settled down. Funny how you remember things like that.

    I may not remember the sermons, but the songs I learned at age 3-6 still come back to me frequently, and many people have said they’re amazed at my attention span and ability to stay focused and sit still for longer amounts of time. I was also taught at a young age to take notes (simply because my mom did and I wanted to be grown up like her). The ability to focus and desire to take notes has made a huge impact on my life in many way, not just relating to church. I absorbed so much more than I was given credit for, even though I didn’t understand it all at the time.

    Keep those kids in the service! It may be rough for a while, but you’ll be doing them a favor in the long run. It saddens me to look around and see no children in the sanctuary. In my opinion, that’s a huge part of the reason kids aren’t interested in sermons – they’re used to being entertained during the sermon, and one day they’re suddenly expected to sit still and pay attention. You can imagine the frustration in their little minds.

  61. I do agree and understand your post, I also know, as a Children’s Pastor that many churches offer age appropriate classes for young children. This is not to keep the church quiet, this is to teach children what church is about and who God is in an way that they will understand. Many of my Early Childhood parents keep the kids in for the worship then during the sermon they will take them to the classes. This is also how our K-5th grade group is geared, they are part of the “big” church until the sermon, then they come back and we do our lesson in 3 different age groups. I know that not all churches are set up the same way, but my main focus is definitely not to have a quiet sanctuary (and it is not the focus for the Senior Pastor either ). We offer wonderful Bible based lesson and exceptional teachers to share the Word to kids. This also allows the parents some time to focus on their own spiritual growth. I do not offer babysitting, my job is to work with the parents on the spiritual growth of their kids and I try to also help equip the parents. My kids are 11 and 18, we always have a group of kids in our row for the beginning of the worship service- we love kids and want them to learn.

    • Sadly, some churches are either ill equipped or not visionary enough to have these programs. Some, on the other hand, refuse it on dogmatic bases.

  62. Pingback: A Really Bad Mass | My Crazy Eclectic Life

  63. “Some people will honestly become frustrated by noisy children in church. They have this warped idea that reverence includes absolute silence.” No; rather, many people still hold to the quaint idea that we are to be mindful of those around us, and teach our children to be considerate of others. When children are noisy and disruptive, those nearby may not be able to hear the preacher or otherwise enjoy the worship service. I wholeheartedly agree with encouraging parents of young children to make the effort to come to church, and that it could be a blessing to others to see moms and dads patiently training their young children to sit quietly during church. But it is quite reasonable to also expect that parents will remove children who are unable or unwilling to be reasonably quiet. Children are not the center of the universe, and the earlier we can teach them to be mindful of how their actions affect others, the better for everyone.

    • You are absolutely right, Kate. I’m one of the strict disciplinarian parents myself out of consideration. Thank you for catching the main thrust of the article being aimed at timid parents.

  64. I agree with this in theory, but my husband and I are both hard of hearing. We had to leave our church for another because the children were so loud we never heard a word of the sermon. Our new church has a cry room-wired with sound and a big window looking into the church. The mothers and children can go there. The children can make all the noise they want there and the parents can hear and see what is going on in church.

  65. Steven – thanks for the reminder! I would also extend this to my church friends who have special needs children. We need a church body that accepts the sounds of little kids and special needs children as the sermon background music!

  66. When my son, now 4, was an infant (my first child), I would try desperately to quiet him during the service. That occasionally meant walking out with him. One day, a gentleman stopped me on my way out and said, smiling, “We love hearing your son, he brings life to the church.” From that day on my perspective changed. The church needs little people!

  67. I want to start out by saying, I love this essay! It and the following comments ( and yes, I read them all!) spoke to me in so many ways. I have been the infertile wife who longed for a child and experienced the atitude that I must have done something wrong to be unable to have children. I am the mother who has miscarried 6 babies and was once again, made to feel that the reason was my sin. I am the mother with 3 adopted children who weren’t always angels and had to be carried out to spare other worshippers witnessing their tantrum. I have been the mother who carried drawing materials, snacks, drinks and quiet toys in and attempt to keep her children quiet. I have been the mother who left her children in the nursery. I was the mother who miraculously experienced a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to a biological daughter who was very attached and didn’t like the nursery. I have been the MOTHER who didn’t like the nursery because I thought the supervision was inadequate. I have been the friend that tries to help the parent with the special needs older child provide reverent but engaging activities so they can bring their child and don’t have to take turns missing the service. And I am the Nursery Supervisor who provides a safe, stable, fun environment where we listen to the sermon via speaker and learn about God in our own, age-appropriate way. I always looked on my time in the nursery as just a job until a wise,former pastor stopped to thank me for my “ministry”. I think each parent has to judge if THEY are more comfortable leaving their child in childcare or keeping them in the service. And I think all parents should be thankful for the understanding church who doesn’t mind their noisy child and for the nursery workers who give their time and miss the service thesmsleves to provide care for their child.

  68. This is amazing and so encouraging to those of us with little bitties. I might’ve gotten teary eyed…and my husband might’ve too. ;) I just shared it on my blog’s facebook page. Thanks for writing this.

  69. There is a movement in America of family-integrated churches. There are at least organizations that I know of now. The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches has a directory of churches at http://ncfic.org where you can find many such churches to attend. My husband pastors one of them, at Household of Faith Community Church (hofgp.org). The Household of Faith Fellowship of Churches all share the distinctive of being family-inclusive and encourage whole-family participation in the worship service.

  70. We have a little tot between the ages of 1-2 and when someone prays in church, he always says AMEN out loud. He also claps when there is singing and sometimes will repeat words as the preacher is preaching. Some might take offense but to me, it means that he is listening and that he is enjoying church. I love it!

  71. So many interesting viewpoints on this issue. I believe that babies and small children should be kept in the church nursery until they are old enough to behave during the service. There are some adults I would like to send there as well. Why is it that the organ prelude acts as a signal to some people to start a conversation? Not to mention those I have observed texting and even talking on their cell phones during the service. I love every part of the service and am well aware of how hard the pastor, choir, and other participants work to give me a meaningful worship experience. Sometimes I have come to church stressed to the breaking point. That hour of worship gives me strength to go on and I do not appreciate having it ruined by crying babies and chattering people of all ages.

  72. Thank you for this post! We have five children ages 7& under, and every week I feel we are disturbing others during mass…well I know we are. But we continue anyway, as we feel it’s more important to teach them about God at a young age. They do learn early on to at least try and be quiet and sit relatively still in church. It’s rewarding to hear them singing “church songs” during the week, too. I pray this post travels rapidly through the web, and inspires many families to brave the Sunday morning routine, no matter how crazy it may be sometimes.

  73. When our children were young they were in church. If they got to restless they were taken out and brought back in after proper discipline. Some people would make hurtful comments that bothered us. Then I read a quote that was ” God would rather hear a child ‘s cry than a sinners snore.” As a senior citizen we wanted to be in A church with children. they are the future of the church.

  74. “They’ve thought about adopting, but they’re not sure if that’s what they want to do or if they will keep on trying to have children of their own.”
    As a mother of adopted and bio kids, they are ALL my own.

    • Abby, an earlier comment stated the same thing you said, and I explained that by “my own” I meant to relay “biological” in a simpler way.

      • Actually technically a non-bio baby is not your baby. Technically a mom goes through all that child birth junk to get HER baby born that you adopt after that point. I mean you might want people thinking that a kid you adopted is 100 percent biologically yours but you kind of can’t have it both ways.

      • Anne, as someone who is adopted, but now, at the age of 32 knows who her biological family is.. I just have to say that “my own” parents are the ones that have been there since I was two days old. While I enjoy knowing who my biological parents are, and I do feel I “belong” to them on some level, that will never be as strong as the level with which I “belong” to my parents. I *do* think part of why I feel so strongly about this is I know I’m with the family God intended me to be with. My parents couldn’t have kids naturally, so they had to look toward adoption and trust that God would put their family together the way He saw fit. And that He did.

  75. Thank you very much for this encouraging article. I want to add to those who have commented about being childless. 1 in 6 couples have fertility problems, so it is highly likely that most churches will have some members who are struggling with this. Outside the USA, adoption is extremely hard and very few families are accepted. Winning a lottery would be more likely than being able to adopt a baby under a year old, although older children are very slightly easier. There are also many families who are delighted to be blessed with one child and may desperately wish for another. Please do not keep “suggesting” to them that they have further children or, worse still, tell their only child to ask his/her parents for a sibling!!
    Like others have said, these people may enjoy your children in church, but please be aware that it can also be very hard as they do wish to be in your shoes. I love to see little children in church and think it is wonderful when they try to join in and stand and sit at the same times. Pre-schoolers draw in front of me and it is very sweet. However, I do think that 10 year olds should be singing with the whole church and really hope that they ARE getting something out of the service as they sit on the pew with a toy and don’t participate at all. I would much rather have a disruptive small child than a non-participating older one. They are all blessings but please teach your child about worship as well.

  76. This was very helpful. I have a child with special needs and doesn’t say many words other than babbling. The church I have been going to for many years was not very accomodating for classes for him so I always kept him with me. On the third time of being asked to quite him down or take into the infant room “wiggle room”, we were asked to do that or to leave. His wheelchair does not fit in that room and I explained that to them ao we were asked to leave. It was heart breaking really, but has not faltered my faith in our Father, we are going to just try new churches.

    • Keep shopping for a church who loves your special needs child. I too have a special needs child (he has CP and is in a wheel chair). after every song he always says (loud enough for most of the congregation to hear him…) I just LOVE that song. He will sing along with the choir if he knows the song. The congregation and the Pastor have embraced my special needs son and give him unconditional love. There are quite a few special needs individuals at my church. If your child is in Spec Ed perhaps you could ask classmates parents if they attend church how is the special needs person accepted – maybe that church could be a good fit for you/your child too???

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  78. There are some excellent thoughts in this article. I do, however, believe that parents should be respectful of others who are trying to worship, focus, and concentrate by removing their children from the auditorium if they do not settle down after a brief period of time. I’ve seen one preacher have to stop his sermon and ask a parent to remove their child because the screaming was such a distraction. While worship doesn’t require “absolute” silence, unnecessary distractions should be eliminated.

      • Thank you. All this kids make all the blessed noises and it is people who aren’t as spiritual as blah blah blah crap kind of annoys me as I have a niece who is just 3 who I think is capable of “spiritually enlightening conversation and her older brother is fully capable. A fussy baby who is being fussy is a whole other ball of wax. And I think it is kind of against the rules of this article but an excessively fussy baby is actually kind of distracting to me. I realize that parents have a lot of work but I also have needs too. But somehow it can’t be both ways as you are sac-religious or not worthy of even a aunt status let alone a parent status if you are annoyed by a fussy baby.

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  80. We would apologize to those around us at the end of service. A Grandfatherly man sternly told me PLEASE DON’T APOLIGIZE FOR YOUR CHILDREN, THEY ARE BEING CHILDREN AND THE IMPORTANT THING IS YOU ARE BRINGING THEM TO CHURH, DON”T STOP BRINGING THEM. And it’s true, that the people do like to hear the coos, crying etc. Pastor often comments about it during prayer thanking GOD for the little voices in our church.

    When my youngest son was about 2 or 3 he wanted to show how mature he was so he recited THE LORD’S PRAYER; like this… Our Father Who Works at Heaven… Our Pastor loved it,
    PRICELESS!!!

  81. I agree with this whole heartedly. However, there should be a line drawn at disturbances in a place of worship. While children should be in service they should also be being taught the place in which they are at should be treated differently then the playground, for example. Parents still must be aware of the people around them. They are there to worship or meditate and focus on the reason they are there. It gets hard when a parent can’t control a child refusing to talk/whisper and is showing disobedience to a parent. We live in a culture where parents don’t or are afraid to discipline/ correct a child’s actions. I brought my children to every service, but the rule was they were to play in their seats with QUITE toys. My personal rule was that they could play on the floor (as my kids love to do in church) until age 5 then the had to sit in the pew after that age. There were consequences if they got too loud. It was tough with one of my kids being ADD. To this day people tell me how well behaved my kids were in church. Point being, don’t use this article as an excuse to allow children to be disturbing during church. Teach then about ” a time and place” for the things they do. Teach your children what worship really is and how other worship. Don’t take a selfish approach to going to church. Reverance to God IS important but doesn’t mean utter silence but has its place to be respectful to other. Teach your child this. If mommy desires

  82. I agree with this whole heartedly. However, there should be a line drawn at disturbances in a place of worship. While children should be in service they should also be being taught the place in which they are at should be treated differently then the playground, for example. Parents still must be aware of the people around them. They are there to worship or meditate and focus on the reason they are there. It gets hard when a parent can’t control a child refusing to talk/whisper and is showing disobedience to a parent. We live in a culture where parents don’t or are afraid to discipline/ correct a child’s actions. I brought my children to every service, but the rule was they were to play in their seats with QUITE toys. My personal rule was that they could play on the floor (as my kids love to do in church) until age 5 then the had to sit in the pew after that age. There were consequences if they got too loud. It was tough with one of my kids being ADD. To this day people tell me how well behaved my kids were in church. Point being, don’t use this article as an excuse to allow children to be disturbing during church. Teach then about ” a time and place” for the things they do. Teach your children what worship really is and how other worship. Don’t take a selfish approach to going to church. Reverance to God IS important but doesn’t mean utter silence but has its place to be respectful to other. Teach your child this. If mommy truely desires to pay attention kids will pick up on this and will become the best lesson on what it means to worship.

  83. Thanks so much for these reminders. When we were church hunting a year ago I had a barely 3 year old and a newborn. We were ask to leave several churches because I would not send my children to the kids room during church. I didn’t know any of these people so I was not about to trust my children to strangers so we left. Luckily we pressed on in our search and found a church that loves us for who we are noise and all.

  84. I once had a pastor tell us to please move to the back of the church as our 3 year old was so distracting to him….our son would say amen, or yes Jesus and sing his little heart out! We did NOT move to the back, we left. That was 11 years ago and that young man is still on fire for the Lord!

  85. As a person who made a decision for Christ between age 4 1/2 and 6, I have to say, “You never know what a little person will hear — and respond to!”

  86. Thank you for writting this article very encouraging!!
    My husband and I have 7 children and we have been told by two different churches to leave because our family is too loud, which it is not just full of joy!! one of these churches we have attended for over 8 years and out of the blue one elderly person could not hear an announcement because we were trying to settle down our baby who was not crying just fussing a little turned around and told me to take him out that they have places for children to go!! I was so crushed! then we went to another church thinking they would be more welcoming of children and this time we get a phone call telling us to take our children out of service because the older people can’t focus! I started to feel like there was something wrong with our family because we were not welcomed at any church without taking them out! I really don’t understand this generation! We split up the family so much both during the week and on Sunday. Starts with nursery, then children’s church, age segregated sunday school classes ( which looks like public school system), then on to youth groups! When do families ever spend time together?? We went back to our church of 8 years because we felt God wanted us to forgive them, but nothing has really changed, we are just ignored and tolerated,My husband and I feel lost at what to do. We have talked to leadership and the pastor but they won’t stand up to the rest of the congergation, not for one family! Any advice?? oh and we live in a small town where choices are limited. oh yes and to make it even worse we homeschool, in a church were the pastor and his wife are public school teachers, talk about lack of support!

  87. Our denomination welcomes little children into the service and it is world wide (Communion of Reformed Evangelicals). Children are included in the covenant of God and sit with parents to receive the blessing of preaching, communion and confession of sin (which we do as a church body). That being said, parents work hard at teaching their children the privilege that they have and most children eventually learn great “church manners.” We have eight children and have lived through many years of going to church where ALL children (including nursing infants) were expected to leave the worship time and “go have fun.” What is that teaching our children?

    Jill Farris
    http://www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com
    http://www.jillcampbellfarris.com

  88. I was going to email you privately but I didn’t see an email address for you. I also didn’t read through the many comments, so maybe this was stated. Your words are ones so many families need to hear and I was encouraged by them this morning as I managed my children while my husband led worship even yesterday. However, as a mother to both biological and adopted children, I am sure you would never mean to imply that my children through adoption are not “my own.” . . . . . .any more than we would not want to be consider anything other than His “own.”

    • Cate, I intended that phrase to substitute the word “biological” for the sake of simplicity. I agree with you.

      • Yes, I saw your reply above. Hmmm. I don’t know if simplicity is the right word. Maybe you didn’t intend to be wounding or had no idea that the terminology was not appropriate. IDK.

      • I knew it “could” have been harming, but I shot for simplicity in using that small phrase versus “biological.” It was a judgment call that some may not agree with, but it wasn’t meant to have been hurtful. Nevertheless, readers can interpret what they want how they want, and I can only hope to mitigate my intentions through the expression of the written word.

        Since most readers don’t know me personally, they may take it with offense. However, if they knew me well, they would know better and that those who focus on that one phrase are straining at a gnat when the overall tone of the article should give enough weight to warrant the benefit of the doubt as to my intentions.

        In another comment, I relayed a story of an elderly couple who “adopted” me, and no one can tell me or them that I wasn’t their grandson regardless of biological ties being absent.

  89. at 18 months my lil girl was in worship w hands lifted high!! i know it blessed like, everyone! esp mom and dad ;)

  90. When my children were young I had attended a fairly large church that was pretty adamant that children be in children’s church or the nursery. You were discouraged from having them in the main sanctuary during services. When we moved here and I started going to my Mom’s smaller church I was very worried and often left the sanctuary to take my then 2 yr old and infant to the back because I was so afraid they were disturbing others. One morning a sweet elderly woman came up to me before services started and said …….. honey, it’s bothering you way more than anyone else. Let them be and stop fretting. I seldom left the sanctuary after that.

    Our Pastor now is also a school teacher. He tells everyone that he can talk louder than any child and children are our heritage, they need to be there. So unless they are really out of control my kids never take my grandchildren out. Both my granddaughter and grandson at one point or another have yelled out ……. AMEN to something that was said. Their timing has always been impeccable and given everyone a good laugh. Last Sunday my 2 yr old grandson apparently thought Pastor was taking too long getting started, so he picked up his song book, and yelled out ………. SING.

  91. Reblogged this on dustydcm and commented:
    What kind of “family” do we think we are as churches if “The Household of Faith” is only accepting of those who already “fit” – and what does that say about our claim to be a community of grace?

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  93. We had to bring our children to church…I was the pastor. They learned early what it meant to sit still but we found a nice way to help “distract” them. A book of pictures that when marked with a pencil would turn colors. However, just because a child is doing something else during the sermon does not mean they are not listening. Our daughters were always asking questions about what I had said during the sermon, or asking what something meant. Just because they are drawing on the bulletin does not mean they are not listening.

  94. On a recent visit to your church in Rexburg, I was very impressed on the number of young families attending your church, yes it is embarrasing for young parents when their young children ttrow a tantrum , but be assured they do not disturb the peace of being at church.
    Do not forget we were all children once , and the children are our future.

  95. May our church reprint this in our monthly newsletter? We are a small, New Testament church in Maine with a large amount of infants & toddlers :-) This would be a huge blessing for our young couples that think they can’t sit in service because they’re kids will “disrupt”. Great article!

  96. I always allow children in service. Seeing adults is the best way for kids ti learn. If you want a kid to grow up being comfortable with worship keep them with you instead of hiding them away in children’s church for an hour. :)

  97. I went to a Methodist University, and had to sing in the Chapel Choir, so attended service regularly. It made me sad, because we were all adults. At the invitation of a professor, I began singing at a local church and the first time I was there, I left in tears because I could hear the glorious sound of children crying during the service. I didn’t realize it till then, but that is what I was missing. i was ALWAYS welcomed in the church where I grew up (Sunday school was before church, so I was expected to be in the sanctuary with the rest of the family). What wonderful memories of listening to the sermon, and learning the music while sitting between my Grandma and Grandpa. I wouldn’t trade it for the world

  98. When I was going through my YEARS of IF and feared never being a parent, I did not NEED the reminder. It was actually painful to have that reminder and that language you used, seemed a bit offensive to me, in what is otherwise a well intentioned well meaning article.

      • Yes, I know. But if you have ever had the chance to go through IF, or the thought of *NEVER* having a child or the family you would dearly, dearly want, these types of reminders are not *NEEDED*. So your word choice illustrates that you are truly lucky in that you have never “been there”. It is unintentionally offensive. You are lucky. I wish I could have never have been there. I am lucky that I now have a child. But during those times, that type of reminder hurt more than anything and nobody *needs* that type of pain. I am only saying this to make you more aware and empathetic.

  99. I only don’t agree with this because it is distracting in church. I’m there to hear from the pastor and I can’t properly do that with a child screaming in the next row. Yes Jesus said ‘let the children come’. He was saying let them be taught of Him also. Along with all if humanity. Churches spend lots of time and money to build up a great kids church program. In my experience, they would much rather be in kids church learning in a fun, caring, and creative way then sitting in main service anyway. Thats the only reason they’re squirming anyway! Because they’re bored.

    • I’m sorry you feel this way. I understand that you find it distracting to have children screaming. Most parents are embarrassed when their children are screaming, but I also know we all distract one another at times during worship…by talking to others or wearing clothes that bring attention to us or by saying lofty prayers. That means that none of us should be there. Children are a blessing and should never be expected to learn from their peers…they should be learning from those who have gone before them.

    • Sorry friend but you need to go back and read the context of the verse. The disciples were complaining about the children and the disturbance they were causing and THAT is when Jesus told them to allow the children in. What happened in the Bible is exactly what is being written about here. You should, as an adult, have the mental discipline to ignore a crying baby or squirming child.

      • So a squirming kid should never be disciplined especially when with a 2nd grader even a “discipline measure” is pretty much a chapter book or with a younger kid a piece of paper and a game such as hangman! I think people need to have more tolderance but parents need to not use “being in church” as the end all be all excuse for everything!@

      • Quote: “You should, as an adult, have the mental discipline to ignore a crying baby or squirming child.”

        Not all adults can, regan222. Hearing impaired adults lose one critical ability – the ability to screen out noises and focus on one item. It is biologically lost, and no heairing assist devices can restore that function. Something you take for granted is not present in those individuals. If my wife is in a room with five conversations occurring simultaneously, she can’t discriminate among them. It’s frustrating to her, and you should be thankful you still have normal hearing and don’t face this functional loss.

      • A valid point. My response was geared to the vast majority of church goers (or at least the non-hearing impaired/non-ADD/non-any other challenge person) In a situation like that I would likely look at my seating location if it became a complete distraction. Also I think the intent of the post was not that it wasn’t a nuisance to have a child interact during worship, it was to show compassion to the parent who is dealing with that child. Most parents will, if the situation warrants, take the child out of the service. What the author was trying to do, IMHO, was to prevent people glaring, staring, snarling, or otherwise disparaging the parent as they were dealing with the child in question.

  100. This is so incredibly encouraging! I always feel like we are the most annoying family in church. We have a 6 year old, and a 2 year old. The 2 year old is very…. well, 2. I’ve started taking her the nursery but I feel bad about it. She should be able to sit with her family and learn about God. Nobody has ever made us feel bad about he being loud, but it can be embarrassing. I’ve had numerous older members tell us how nice it is to have her in the service. I would like to share this with my church if that is ok. I’ve never thought about them being a blessing to others just by being in church.

  101. I was just going to say….back then in Jesus’ time I can’t imagine kids being like SOME of the kids today. Heck, when I was a kid we were not like that. My folks just gave us a lock and that is all it too…the evil stare! :-) When I was younger churches also had sections in the back that were closed and infants who might cry would be in there. I don’t mind kids in general, they are as the top of this story was great but it is the totally unruly ones that is the problem people usually have. When I have to tell the child to stop kicking me because the parent is not even noticing or stop two siblings fighting what are the kids, the parents or I getting out of being there? We listened to the priest & asked our parents afterwards. We were learning the correct behavior, to knee, how to place our hands etc back then. Quite frankly if the children are behaving properly it is some of the adults I have more problems with, texting, talking to others & even answering a loud ringing phone and talking to the person on the phone! Geez!

  102. Absolutely agree! Left our previous church because the pastor actually stopped his sermon, stared at a grandmother holding her fussy 2 year old granddaughter, waited till he got her attention and then asked her to remove the child to the nursery because they were disturbing his sermon!! Needless to say, half the church got up and walked out! Sad to say, he is still there but the congregation has never recovered. Children, whether happy or sad, should be a welcomed, joyful noise!!

  103. Reblogged this on Regan222's Blog and commented:
    Lest we forget why we are there and what’s important, or should be. Jesus thought so anyway. “Suffer the Little Children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

  104. my sister went through this when her girls were small, didn’t want to bring them anymore, one of there favorite tricks was while she was distracted with one the other would sneak off to sit with someone else. the pastor told her not to worry and to let them wander freely because for some in the church if was the only “snuggle” they got all week. made her cry………

  105. When my son was a little over 2 years old he went up to a man after church and asked him when he was going to be baptised. The man, an unbeliever, who was just visiting church with his believing wife for the first time was amazed at this question coming out of a babe’s mouth. He came up to me a while later and told me that my young son had given him something to think about….Never underestimate how God can use children. Love your article.

  106. This old school view of bringing small children to “big church” is symptomatic of a church that is not changing with the times and doesn’t really understand their audience. I don’t want to see your small children in church. I don’t want to see you trying to calm them down. Kids under 10-12 years of age should have their own activity during church. Songs they can sing. A message they can understand and reflect on. A chance to run around a little and be a kid. Puritan times are over. Young parents want an hour or they can worship with having to discipline a child and create activities to keep them occupied. People are leaving the church in droves. This attitude is part of the reason.

    • “Suffer the Little Children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

      I’d take it up with Jesus if I were you.

    • I couldn’t disagree with you more. I was raised in a small church that only used the nursery to change diapers or nurse a baby. Our church now isn’t a small church and has two services on Sunday mornings to accommodate all people who attend. When I had my daughter she never went to nursery she stayed in “big church” with us even though I rotated singing on Sundays and my husband plays guitar every Sunday when I was singing friends and family kept her in big church. To this day I believe she may not have understood when she was an infant/toddler but her spirit heard and understood and she even repeated things after church that our pastor had said during his sermon. My daughter at 4 years old could sing and loved to sing, How Great is Our God, word for word. And always worships during big church at nine years old- she loves to worship and sing and especially loves to bring her bible and follow along. She would even bring her bible before she could read and pretended to follow along. She has never nor will I ever allow her to be entertained in church service with handheld video games! Well, she has never asked to either. If i pushed her off to play in nursery or children’s church how would she know what was appropriate when “old enough” for big church?

  107. my cousin is a preacher, he said, keep those children here in church, if they cry I will just preach louder..I have a friend whose pastor does NOT want children in the church while he is preaching, I ask why not? That is the craziest thing I have ever heard, it made him nervous when kids got restless..I said well, maybe he needs to get a different job..Kids had to go downstairs!!

  108. As in all things in life, there simply needs to be common sense and balance. We live in a child centric culture such that the world has never seen. Making all things subservient to a screaming child (including our own, back in the day) is not always the absolute virtue that trumps all others.

    There are holy, transcendent moments during worship that can literally change lives. The struggling addict hears a word of grace near the end of an engaging sermon and decides not to take his own life that day (actually happened), the couple in a broken relationship experiences a word of hope together and reconciliation begins on the spot (happened), the unbeliever is captivated by the Holy Spirit and faith is born (many times). The grieving person who just lost a loved one hears a word of grace and mercy and receives the sacrament with the church on earth while their loved one joins as the “host of heaven” (happened Sunday)

    This list could go on and on. Kids are cute. I love having them in worship. They even make noises and squirm around at times they should not. Big deal, get over it. But what we are about as a community during worship is incredibly important and requires deep commintment especially from all in leadership. Asking for common sense and balance is not asking too much, from anyone.

  109. This is a brilliant article, as I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma. I take my 7 year old to church but leave his brother who’s 2.5 at home with his Dad. I would feel embarrassed if I wasn’t able to control his behavior and disrupted the church service. I now realize that says more about me than about him. Why shouldn’t he be welcome in God’s house? He is after all one of his children. 

  110. LOVE THIS ARTICLE! I’m a firm believer that children should be side by side with their parents in church for the entire service. They learn by example! I love that my church is very cool with this. I have been to other multiple churches in the past who had a separate “children’s church”which I’m cool with but I want my children with us, their family for worship. On one occasion I can remember someone coming up to us and saying you know there is a daycare here for her! I was so upset cause at that time it was just Ella & she was so well behaved so was shocked & hurt deeply. I do believe the children should have classes more on their level of understanding with kids their age. It’s what we call Sunday school but as for church worship my heart tells me it should be the family as a whole! <3

  111. Only a few weeks ago, I was told to my face, by several members of my church, that I am a bad mother, that i must learn to control my ‘unruly, rude, naughty, out of control, disobedient children’. This was said in front of my boys (who are 3 and 5), I haven’t been back to church since, I am my worst critic, I need no one else to put me down, now my boys are asking me why I am a bad mother and, having been told off countless times, have begged me not to take them back ‘to that place’. Why does the church not see the devastation they are causing, people write things like the above, showing they understand me, but why do people not verbalise and defend me when I need them, standing up with the positive on a regular basis, the negative comments will allows find a voice, why not the positive too?! My husband is the vicar of the church we attend, if the church will attack the vicars wife and children like that, how much worse will they make it for other mums?

    • I was preaching in a service where an infant became so loud that the mother had to excuse herself and the child. I paused from my lesson and told the entire congregation to encourage that young mother for being there. One elderly lady afterwards said she’d never heard a preacher say that and that she was thankful that I did. I will always take up for mothers who wrestle with children. Jesus said to hinder not the little children from coming to him, because such was the kingdom of heaven. I’m so sorry for your bad experience. My heart goes out to you.

    • You should come to church with us, Jo. I promise you’ll look good by comparison :)

      (Sorry that happened to you; I can only imagine how mortifying and infuriating that was.)

  112. What would you rather do – model worship by keeping a child in church, or teach a child that they are not wanted … unless they are perfect … like the adults!!

    • Our daughter started attending church with her Dad and I at 6 months of age she is now in her first year of college at a public college. She immediately sought out a church involved herself in Bible Study and meets for prayer each morning before going to classes. Yesterday she met someone who said he was an atheist she went after him to share with him the message of the Gospel.

      BRING YOUR BABIES TO CHURCH AND LET THEM CRY UNTO THE LORD!

  113. I take my 16-month-old daughter to church every Sunday possible. There’s a creche during the service apart from one Sunday a month, which is a family service, and she always tends to play up because she gets restless and bored without all the creche toys. I used to worry about taking her to these Sundays but all the regulars tell me how well-behaved she is and how much they love seeing her dance to the music and come up to them with her big smiles. The icing on the cake was the week an older woman thanked me for bringing her and said that she wished her daughter would do the same with her grandson. I’ve since stopped apologising for her, knowing that really it was just me who was bothered by it (bothered because I thought others were).

  114. So very well said!! I don’t have children and enjoy the little ones at my church!! the crying, giggling, and loud whispers (they are trying to be quiet) should be music to our ears instead of causing parents to not want to come!! silence in the church now, means silence in the future also!!
    I will share this with my pastor!! :) thanks!!

  115. Pingback: Remember This? | D Kevin Brown's Blog

  116. Thank you for this article. It was very encouraging and enlightening as well, as to how rude and cruel some church members and pastors alike can be. I have been attending a church for several years. Most of the people have been there for most of their lives. I don’t feel at home there . I feel like an outsider. I have been discouraged enough to stop attending there except there is not another place to go that is near by enough, and I am getting on up in years. The elders don’t speak to people. I don’t feel like these people care if Im there or not. But I know God cares.

  117. I totally disagree. I find it extremely distracting when a baby or child is being loud and fussy. I can’t concentrate on what the pastor is saying.

    • If you don’t have the mental acuity to ignore distractions and focus, then you might have a real problem with attention. You should address that medically instead of sniping parents and children who have every right to share a public sphere with you.

      • Actually as one gets older & older it is more difficult to select out distractions. This is normal aging process. There is nothing you can do about it medically so to suggest to people to get help is not the solution. You know the Library is a public sphere but they would never allow loud crying babies in there. Why? Because people are trying to concentrate and read. Now is listening any differently? The movie theater is a public sphere but would they allow a loud crying baby? No. Why would church be any different then? If you were at a conference and there was a loud crying baby would they allow that? We need to think about who the event is for. If you were even having a lovely gathering with your friends in your home and had your child on your lap & they began to cry loudly wouldn’t you eventually step out to settle them down.

  118. The only way a baby learns to go to church is to go to church. We are an occasionally messy species, made that way by God. Some grownups make distracting noises, or are stinky, or dress in a distracting manner. Everyone at any given moment is exactly where God wanted them to be.

  119. Thanks for the post, Steven! I enjoyed reading it. This is an area my wife and I are very passionate about, so I’m always thankful for someone drawing it to people’s attention. I grew up going to children’s church and never really thought twice about it until we had children. I would say that I wish you would be careful about referring to biological children as being someone’s “own,” implying at least to some readers (that’s how I read it) that adopted children are not your “own.” Granted this is subtle, and you aren’t blogging about adoption and everyone may not read it that way. My adopted son is my son just I am Christ’s, with no caveat’s. How painful it would be for him to hear someone say my biological child was my “own” but he wasn’t. I co-lead an orphan care ministry at my church and we constantly battle against the idea that adoption is just for infertile couples and even in the church, this is the most common example of adoption: a couple tries for years to have a baby and can’t, and finally as a plan B, they resort to adoption to fill the void. God can use infertility to stir a heart, so I am of course not saying it’s bad for an infertile couple to adopt, but we just need to be mindful of not always using infertility as an example of adoption. God’s commands to care for the orphan and the example of adoption we were first shown on the cross should be our primary impetus for adoption – not infertility. We adopt because of our theology and not our biology. Again, I’m sure you weren’t implying that couples only consider adopting when they face infertilty, but sometimes I feel the need to say something when this is the example I hear over and over again among believers. Anyway, I did enjoy your post, so thanks for sharing and you might check out this article by John Piper on children in church as well…it’s great! http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/the-family-together-in-gods-presence

  120. Can I ask a practical question? We have a 2 year-old — a great kid, but a 2 year-old. Trying to sit through the Mass with him (which, let’s face it, is not edge-of-your-seat excitement) is dang near impossible.

    So when Mr. Fidgety McFidget starts to want to run down the aisles, make a lot of noise, etc., what do you recommend we do? We want to be respectful of those around us, but at the same time, my family (including Mr. Fidgety McFidget) have the same right and obligation to worship as anyone else.

    Thoughts on how best to handle the situation?

  121. Thank you Lib for that message. I wish every young couple in the world could hear it. It is wonderful. Old people do love to hear a baby cry in church. It’s the sound of life and love. Jesus hears when we cry and keeps our tears in a bottle!!

  122. lol, my son drives me bonkers during church, but my Preacher is cool with it, he just preaches louder! Im just blessed to have a understanding church to go to with my kids :)

  123. Beautifully written and encouraging. Taking our children to church is an extremely important part of parenting. It gives them deep roots to be able to withstand the turbulence of life. I have deep respect for parents who take their children to church. Those who try their best to teach them to behave civilly in public, especially church have my total respect. It is however, extremely annoying and close to impossible to get any enjoyment from church service when parents allow their children to run up and down the isles, scream, talk as if they are on a playground, etc. It seems everyone in church are supposed to “act” as if they don’t hear it? After all, it’s a child and they can do whatever they want! NO parenting or passive parenting is so very sad. Sometimes, it was so loud the pastor would just stop speaking until the talk/scream/running was over… the mothers still did nothing to stop it or show their child it was bad behavior. I had to stop going to church because my spirit was so grieved. I drove over an hour to a small country church where this is what I was exposed to every Sunday. Literally, my spirit was grieved mostly the entire service. I don’t blame the children, they were just being children. Without anyone to teach them how to behave, they had no idea it was bad behavior. If anything was said to the mothers, it would cause a “rift” in the small church, so no one ever did. What a shame. I just stopped going to church. To this day, I worship God in my garden where my spirit isn’t grieved and enjoy the harmony of nature.

    • Judy, I am a pastor’s wife and mother of five small children. I found this post very encouraging, as young parents need all the help we can get. Here is what astonishes me about church, I have sat in the back and had a toddler crying, a restless, hungry baby, and my older kids starting to bicker. These sorts of situations have happened to me on several occasions. Do you know what has deeply grieved MY spirit and caused me to quit wanting to be in church? The fact that NOT A SINGLE PERSON OFFERED TO HELP ME in these helpless times. Are you supposed to just sit there and pretend it isn’t happening? Of course not. How about someone gets out of their not so comfortable pew and out of their comfort zone, stands up, and OFFERS TO HELP THAT MOTHER INSTEAD OF MERELY SITTING THERE being grieved in spirit. If parents are bringing their children to church in the first place, they are a far stretch ahead of what most parents are trying to do. It is because they care about bringing their children up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. If a mother bothered to go through the extreme hassle of getting children up, ready and out the door for church, she is a remarkable mother. We should rejoice at any mother who brings children to church, not be grieved by it.

      • At my parents’ church, there is no nursery. All the children attend the service with their parents. My dad, a father of 6, is the one who most often gets up to take a squirmy or loud or upset child outside to walk around for a few minutes. Little girls get swung around, little boys get the “this is how a man behaves in church” speech. Since my dad had a hard time staying awake when he sits for extended periods of time, it’s a blessing to everyone involved because sometimes he needs a break to (and he’s not interrupting with an ill-timed snore). I’m sorry you don’t have someone like my dad to help you.

      • Rebekah, How wonderful for you to have FIVE children! It is amazing you were able to get them all ready and go to church! What an accomplishment. I am so sorry that your spirit was grieved because you weren’t offered “help” with your five children from other church members. Maybe you could have asked? Oh what I would have given to be able to help those children in my church! The mothers made it very clear that they thought their extremely “passive” parenting was the only way to go to everyone and were very proud of their parenting style. Everyone expects a baby to cry now & then and it is actually beautiful to hear! It is children that were never “taught” respect for others and that church was not a place to run and play during the service way beyond toddler years into elementary school age that so grieved me. I hope you won’t hesitate to ask for help with your children if you need it in the future. Based on my experience, nothing would have made me happier!!! Sadly, so many are “offended” if anything is said to them about their children that most people refrain from interfering with others’ parenting or saying anything about what someone’s child is doing unless they are asked. Thank you for your comment.

      • Judy, thank you for your words and reply. I want to apologize for my quick response. I must confess, I responded out of slight anger after reading your first comment as well as many others. I was appalled at all the self centered answers and am positive that our Lord Jesus would be to. But then again, my response was purely self-centered as well, reflecting on MY personal experience of church.

        Being inconvenienced and helping another, is much more important and holy in the Lord’s eyes, then being able to “worship and hear God’s word” without distraction. Our lives are to be offered as living sacrifices. THIS is our spiritual worship according to the Word of God (Romans 12).

        Thank the Lord, I do have help in church now. A middle aged couple now holds my toddler during church. This made a huge difference and freed me up to help the other children. I see the fruit of my labor paying off with the older ones who now are sitting still. Lord willing, we still have many years to go, but one thing as a mother, that will be worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears, is bringing my children to church.

        It is a luxury I fear we will no longer have come another generation or so. I pray these years in church now and at home will prepare my children for that time.

  124. We are told that a child learns and retains knowledge from birth to 5 years of age. Don’t they need to hear the gospel from a God called preacher and retain that knowledge of who God is? I think so. God’s holy spirit speaks louder than any noise a child can make. Love Everybody!

  125. Thank you so much for this encouraging message. My husband and I attended church regularly and struggled with infertility and prayed for years to be able to bring a baby to our church. Finally after what seemed like a lifetime we were blessed with a baby girl. It quickly became clear that the church we had attended for years was not where we would raise our daughter. Separating families for worship is not for us. This message gives me hope that we will be able to find a church who will allow us to stay together without pressure to send our daughter away to the nursery or children’s church with people she does not know.
    I truly believe that the way a child learns to behave in church is by being there. Sunday school is for age groups, I believe the service should be open to everyone.
    Thank you again.

  126. I can’t hear the pastor speak at our church because of crying toddlers and find it completely disrespectful of the parents to stay in the service. The preacher has worked hard to craft a message for the church and when people can’t focus, it just seems passively rude. I keep seeing this post go around and can’t understand. Babies crying are SUPPOSED to annoy adults into caring for them. I’m supportive of 3+ year olds in a service who understand the concept of sitting still (but understandably can’t do it.)

    • Of course, I wouldn’t advocate an all-out rage from children as being good. There has to be balance, but the way some people are towards children in church is abhorrent. Sure, tend to unruly children to silent them, and if unable, excuse yourself out of courtesy.

  127. As a mother of a very “noisy” and active 13 month old boy, articles like this are very encouraging and uplifting to hear. Not only can it be frustrating to be the parent of “that” child, but often just getting to church some days is a challenge for two working parents and a mom pregnant with our second, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to put these thoughts into words.

    A few weeks back a man did approach us and told us how refreshing it was to hear the voice of our son and to look back and see us wrestling with him to stay in his seat (he loves to run off) and how it brought back so many memories.

  128. Hi, Steven. We would like to request permission to re-print this post in our church newsletter. How can we go about getting that permission? Please e-mail me. Thanks!

      • I was polite, thoughtful and expressed my opinion on the subject. Why would that be cause for non-publication? I’m a little confused.

      • Scott,

        There were a few comments that I deleted that were atheistic in nature, and I may have inadvertently deleted yours with them. I can’t recall what the comment was, so please accept my apology.

  129. I love the article and agree with it. I also caution that if the preacher is seemingly having difficulty keeping his focus to be sensitive to the child out of the auditorium, this especially true in a small building. I say this as a pastor of a small church.

  130. Steven,
    I see a number of people have asked to reprint this in their church newsletter. I would like to do the same, if it’s ok with you.
    As the mom of a squirmy, noisy toddler (as well as the church office manager), I thank you. :)

  131. I’ve raised three girls in church. One of them is still young. I am amazed at what they retain even when you think they are not listening. (Sometimes it is even thrown back at me….”Mom, Pastor said this…(ouch!).”. I now see other mothers with their small children and I do understand the frustration in trying to keep them still and quiet. But church is suppose to be a family where you develop relationships and we know the kids will learn how to behave in due time. Those seasons will pass soon enough and you will be greatful that you took them. This was a great article with a different perspective.

  132. Onviously written by the parents of small children.

    Church is to hear the word of God – not to hear other people talking or children screaming.

    Nurseries exist for a reason. Taking away another person’s enjoyment of something (and worse – assuming that they ENJOY it) is beyond inconsiderate.

    • Kendra,

      You couldn’t be more wrong. I am more than qualified to write this article, because I am a preacher and parent of an eleven and six year old.

      God would rather hear a baby crying than a Christian snoring, I presume. I’m often derailed by loud infants, but I don’t let it bother me, because I’m glad that their mommy and daddy brought them.

      I never read about nurseries in my New Testament, though they aren’t a bad idea to have and use. The whole point of the article and as Christians is to not be so self-centered. Sure, babies disrupt my preaching, but I’m not the most important one there despite my preaching being very important. It’s all about grace. Jesus gave us grace and we didn’t deserve it, so perhaps we should give grace to those who may be oblivious to the distractions they cause.

      • You’ve never read about nurseries in the New Testament, but I’ve never read about a formal, sit down and open a hymnal church. Church meant the body of believers and fellowship with them. It also meant worship. But it was never specified WHERE we should spend that time, just that we SHOULD.
        I was brought into “big church” at a very early age. And I can tell you from experience that not only was I rarely quiet despite punishment when we got home, but I absorbed nothing. I wish my parents had put me in Sunday School or Children’s Church, because the few times that I attended, I thoroughly enjoyed.
        As an adult, I struggle to want to go to church or have the motivation to wake up for it in the morning. I wonder if I had not been forced to sit there and “listen” to something I didn’t understand as a child, if I would still struggle with this now.
        No disrespect intended, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but just because you are a preacher doesn’t make your opinion on this topic any more valid than mine or any other believer commenting on this.

      • You’re correct. If the church is the body and people, surely you can concede that the body shouldn’t be broken up. Nevertheless, I appreciate the need to have age appropriate teaching. This article is meant as an encouragement to those who refrain from attending worship because of minor whimpers. The church cannot and must not replace the home. If there’s no instruction at home, church attendance may not do much good.

      • Rachel – I am left to wonder if there aren’t other reasons that you struggle with the desire to go to church. And no, not all opinions are equal. Some opinions are worth more than others due to the expertise of the persons offering them. So no, your opinion is not equally valid to Steven’s on this matter.

    • No, church is for the purpose of developing the body of Christ, which includes small children. They have just as much reason to be in the service listening to the preaching as any adult. People wonder why the church isn’t growing: maybe because we banish children and teens from corporate worship because they don’t always behave the way we want them to, so they grow up feeling disconnected from their church?

      • I wasn’t banished. I was forced. And I hated church. I’m just being honest. My husband was the same way. And now as adults and parents we both struggle tremendously with motivation to attend church. I’m not casting blame on our parents, because I don’t know how things would be different if we had attended children’s church. I’m just giving another perspective and something to think about.
        I agree, the church should supplement the home.

  133. I am a mom to a four year old, who has been in church since she was born. I am also a youth director for that church, and she has learned more than what some of you possibly think. At age two she was praying, and knows that at services she is to be quiet, and does so. She has been able to repeat back to me what she has learned when our minister does the children’s sermon, so while they may be playing with toys as you watch them, never think they aren’t listening. Our church is mostly older people who have said she is no bother to them, and they enjoy seeing her in church because it shows them the church will go on even after they are gone.

    • I’m a mom of a 3 1/2 year old and my child has never been in church except when she was too small to be in the nursery.
      and i can assure you that she loves sunday school and requests that we go to church. she brings home her artwork with bible verses that they worked on. she is learning valuable biblical truths at a young age.

  134. I appreciate this article also. Very recently I heard through the grapevine that someone was not pleased with the behavior of my boys (3 and 5 years old) during our services, and that they were disruptive. No parent wants to be on the receiving end of a comment like that! I understand that my children are not angels… no children are! I also understand that a first reaction as a parent can be defensive. I have chosen to take it for what it is– someone being honest about how my boys have negatively affected their worship. I am truely sorry for that! I will try harder to be sensitive to the needs of others when it comes to how fidgetity the boys are getting. At the same time, though, I am happy to say that the overwhelming majority of the feedback I’ve ever gotten at our church is that my boys’ behavior for their age is impressive and that their form of worship adds to the service. My older son likes to air-drum and vocally beatbox to every song– even traditional hymns that the organ plays. I know it draws a lot of comments– and smiles. My younger son is recently potty-trained and just happens to be a “pee machine” most mornings, which can sometimes require walks back to the bathroom three times in a service. When they feel especially moved by the music, they will dance in front of their chairs or maybe in the side isle next to our row. Maybe that’s disruptive to some people.

    I think most parents know where the line should be drawn– that point when it really does make sense to take a child out of the service. I’d say, though, that it is the parent who makes that decision, though. Not the people around them… and certainly not people talking behind their backs. Chances are the parent already knows that the child is being disruptive and is working at it that very moment, and week after week.

    I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday, and the only time we got taken out of the mass was to get a spanking for being disobedient/defiant. Needless to say, that didn’t end up happening a whole lot! ;-) We did have a children’s liturgy which was age-appropriate during the readings and homily, and I know that if it’s done right, there is certainly a time and place for a children-oriented worship. Honestly, if my boys WANT to be with us in church and say no to children’s church, why would we ever want to force them away?? I know we’re doing something right when we’re back at home, and one of my boys’ most favorite things to play is “church,” where one will stand on a “preaching rock” (or laundry basket, step, couch, etc.) and lead worship– preaching, singing church songs, dancing– while the other boy sits and listens or joins in with singing and dancing. If that’s not worship, I don’t know what is.

    What do we want to pass along to our children when it comes to worship? Do it the “right way” or otherwise leave? That when you worship, you can’t be yourself? That worship should be quiet and never loud… still and never moving… the same and never changing? One of my proudest moments as a parent is the Sunday when Pastor used my son as an example of how we should be worshipping our Lord– loudly, dancing around with hands raised up to heaven. Ours is not a charismatic church! I think that might have stirred up some thoughts in the room.

  135. Ive loved reading this blog and all of the replys. I think church should be a family with babies everybody in between right up to very old people. A friend of mine in church i used to go to fostered a little boy from he was born. My friend chatted away to the wee lad and explained everything to him that was going on in church long before he understood anything. the boy emulated my friend, when she closed her eyes and knelt in prayer with her hands clasped so did he. This wee lad knew from an early age everything that was happening in church. one day there was a guest speaker and the wee boy asked very loudly `why is that man talking in that microphone, everyone laughed and took it one way, whereas what my wee friend meant was why was a strange minister speaking and not the usual one. my wee friend was `fostered` by the whole church.

    Another different episode at a different church i was sitting on my own behind a young couple with a 7/8 year old girl in tow. they were standing eyes closed hands raised in worship, their daughter sat eating sweets making lots of noise with unwrapping the sweets, and worst of all she sat and made faces at me and stuck her tounge out at me throughout the entire service. By the time it was over i was ready to hit somebody i couldnt decide whether i wanted to hit the parents or their obnoxious daughter. the parents did no parenting whatsoever. they resolutely ignored their offspring.

    im not that old myself. i hope to be married and have children, my point is church should be a family but a nice family where people are made welcome and everyone should have an input. i wish i had the confidence to say to the parents of the cheeky daughter that her behaviour was upsetting me and plain wrong. At that church the only one who acknowledged i was there was the horrible kid who stuck her tounge out at me.

    I havent expressed this very well, but my point is about family, everyone having a place in that family, with rights and responsibilities and everyone should be setting an example of love (and behaviour) for each other.
    i hope this all makes sense to somebody. lol but i know what i mean i’m not 100% certain anyone else will lol

  136. I am the wife, daughter and granddaughter of pastors, a mother and grandmother who was raised in the church from my first week on earth–my husband was in church the day after he was born. We were taught to be quiet and reverent in church and to listen to what the Minister was saying. In our day, church was our only form of fellowship with friends and neighbors. Parents brought children to every service, twice on Sunday, Wednesday evening, and either Friday or Saturday evening, and even more often for revivals, which sometimes lasted more than two-weeks, with no one missing a service for any reason other than illness. Our parents brought a blanket for their small children, and if they happened to fall asleep, the children were laid under the pews to sleep in peace while our folks enjoyed worshiping the LORD.
    My pastor husband and I raised our children in church, and taught them to be still, quiet and reverent in church, and taught them to take notes while the Minister was ministering. This didn’t harm any of us in any way, and GOD-loving people were always happy to have the children in church–knowing they were learning truths which would carry them through this life and finally into GOD’S Eternal Kingdom.
    I take offence at people who do not want children in church, because they are disregarding the commandment of JESUS to let the children come to HIM. Nay-sayers may declare that children can learn just as well in Children’s Church, but it has been my experience that many do not learn how to become followers of CHRIST in that watered-down atmosphere where the demonstrations of the HOLY SPIRIT are not often seen.
    We never minded the noise that very small children made, because they were learning the Good News of JESUS CHRIST, SAVIOR of the world. It was always the interruptions by Teens and Adults that saddened us. Many adults talk in church, or leaf through pamphlets or even their Bible, causing a commotion not easily ignored. Small children are a delight!

  137. As a person not able to have children…it sometimes hurts when I’m forced to watch other people’ s children. I love kids but especially small infants and babies reminds me of what is missing in my life. Just my perspective, but that’s why I appreciate nurseries. So I can worship God, and be joyful in my circumstances.

  138. Very good message. I’m one of those folks who doesn’t always appreciate children in church, but my issue has always been with the parents (sorry!) not the kids. I want to hear what’s being said, too! I was brought to church as a child and it was a teaching moment – I was taught how to behave and be (reasonably) quiet. Last week there was a young fellow sitting behind me, (no other seats open, mind you) that kept crunching on chips or something and playing a video game. I don’t believe he absorbed anything except a large bag of snacks! The sounds distracted me and then made me hungry too. I don’t expect “silence” or absolute “reverence”, but I do expect to see some discipline exerted. I love to see the kids in church; I just want to see the children taught how to listen to the word, rather than have the church turned into a playground/cafeteria. Or there is also children’s church. NO I don’t hate kids, I’m not down on kids, I just want to hear what’s going on too. It’s wonderful that so many speakers can handle disruptions cheerfully; I suspect more of them can’t – I don’t think I could. But the basic message here is – YES – they belong in church!

  139. Missed that – someone else pointed out that ADULTS often spend their time in church catching up on gossip, having private conversations or texting…yeah, that bugs me too. But again, only when I can’t hear what’s going on because of the distraction.

  140. When my son was little, he would sit and squirm, wiggle, play with cars and I thought he never caught a word the pastor was saying until one Sunday the preacher mentioned that Moses was buried……My son looked at me with a shocked face and said, “I didn’t know Moses was dead.” They hear and they learn. If the children don’t feel welcome as children, they won’t feel welcome as adults. Bless the children.

  141. Sometimes the need fulfilled is for those of us within the church who have children who might need another child of the same age to befriend. When my daughter was born, there were NO children in the church. Years later my brother and his wife had their first boy, but there still were no girls to be friends with my daughter. We have only recently been blessed by another family attending who have a daughter the same age as mine. They became fast friends, and for that I am immensely grateful. :)

    • Having had a chance to read more of the comments and comment threads here (though by no means all of them!), I want to add some things from my own experiences.

      I am the daughter of a minister, and I have been in many different types of churches. Some had children’s church, but the majority did not – most had Sunday School, which tended to be at a separate time from the main worship service and was divided by age ranges (adult Sunday School included), and then we all would come to worship together as a congregation, adults and children alike. Most have had nurseries, regardless of what else was done with regard to children.

      When I was a teen and pre-teen, I took my part as “helper” in the nursery where my dad was preaching at the time. I always enjoyed nursery helper duty because I got to be in there with one of the adults from church one-on-one while we both took care of kids. It was a good chance for me to get more acquainted with that adult while also learning things about how to take care of children. Most of the time, my job was to distract the kids with coloring and/or playing, while the adult was there to handle any more-demanding responsibilities that the helpers wouldn’t be able to handle. I thought that was a good system, and it worked pretty well. Kids were dropped off before service, goodbye hugs given and tears wiped, and then the parents didn’t return until service was over. Once in a while if a child was inconsolable or needed something we couldn’t take care of, the helper would be sent in to quietly petition the mother to come help with her child.

      When my daughter was born, since there were no other children in the congregation at that time, there was no nursery duty set up, despite having a nursery room. I was able, when I needed, to take my daughter to the nursery to nurse her (imagine that!) and when I needed to discipline her for misbehavior. I found it exhausting most of the time to try to get her to behave in service so that I could pay attention, but generally I handled it on my own. Once in a while an older woman would volunteer to help, for which I was and am grateful, but such help was not always available. At one point it became habit to simply go straight to the nursery with her, since the sermon is routed to a television in the nursery room and I could pay attention without feeling self-conscious when nursing her or when her noisiness became a distraction in the service. I didn’t want to be a burden on anybody because of my daughter, though I do admit that it was also laziness on my part to head directly there (and oftentimes because I tended to be late) to stay for the entire service.

      Now that my daughter is older and there are more kids in the church, we both take on nursery duty together, as she is my wonderful little helper and enjoys being with the little ones. I understand that what we do is a kind and helpful service to the newer mothers in the church, allowing them a break so they can pay attention to the sermon, but I can’t help but feel a little lacking in the sympathy department when some of the mothers are so eager to dump their kids off in the nursery but never sign up to volunteer themselves for nursery duty. I feel as though some of these mothers look upon those of us who offer ourselves for nursery duty as just free babysitting so they can have that “hour of peace” that they seem somehow unable to ever find otherwise. If they would only volunteer once in a while to be somebody else’s help, maybe they’d learn a bit of understanding for what it is to take on another person’s kids. I’m not your babysitter; I’m here because God has put upon me the desire to give back what help was given to me.

      What’s worse is when some of them with multiple children come and go, bringing in one child and taking one out. They don’t seem to be teaching their children anything good. It seems to me that disruptive behavior in church is being rewarded by a stint in the nursery where they can play with toys and be just as rowdy there as anywhere else (though when I’m in there I do my best to control such rowdiness). I would almost rather see mom take Junior out of service, give him a spanking, let him finish crying, and then, when he’s quieted himself, take him back into church than see a mom dump her little miscreant into the nursery without so much as a “Good luck!” to the nursery volunteer. Then the ones who get taken back out from the nursery are the ones who seem to have separation anxiety issues and probably should have been with mom in the service the whole time if they can’t stand to be separated from her to be put into the nursery. I would rather see the nursery empty with kids behaving beside their parents in the sanctuary than see kids being shoved off onto the poor nursery worker for misbehavior. It’s one thing to volunteer to help the moms who are simply overwhelmed; it’s quite another to feel used by the moms who don’t even bother to try teaching their kids appropriate behavior in church.

  142. It is not okay to have children disrupt the church service. I am concerned that young parents are getting the message that they don’t need to discipline their kids or have respect for people that are worshiping God, praying, and listening to the sermon.

    For a lot of people, this is their one hour of peace away from the stress of their daily lives. To let your child disrupt the service is very inconsiderate. Children need to learn to be considerate of other people around them.

    When I was young, I had to be quiet so others could focus on the service and worship. So did my child. She is now a teenager and serves every Sunday as Usher, Greeter, Crucifer, Torch Bear, Communion Assistant, and/or Singer. I don’t make her serve; she enjoys it and wants to.

    If they don’t learn at a young age to be considerate of those around them, they probably never will. So keep bringing them to church, but help them to learn that other people are important too.

    • Marian, I wouldn’t ever advocate neglecting to discipline children, and that was certainly not the intention of this article. Rather, the intention was to put at ease those who are so self-conscious about the smallest sound their children make that they neglect worship altogether. Furthermore, I wouldn’t say that church is meant to be our “hour of peace,” but of mutual fellowship and edification (Hebrews 10.25). It is inconsiderate to allow a child to continually be disruptive, but all who’ve had children know that they make noises and it cannot be helped. But, yes, when they become so disruptive, they should be excused. I LOVE your last paragraph. It’s spot on.

  143. Jesus’ heart beats for little children. Look at His example … not once does He turn a child away and it appears He loved to be surrounded by them.

    It all depends on your definition of church. Is church a seminar, where you show up to be taught to, or is the church a family, a community of Believers? I have NEVER seen an example in Scripture which suggests we’re supposed to show up, sit down and just listen to whomever’s preaching. I hope no one relies on the Sunday morning service to be fed, and that Sunday morning is more about pouring out, than taking in.

    I would hope if/when a child is too fussy, as in any situation, Mom or Dad might take the little one for a walk, or a loving Grandma sitting nearby offers to hold or amuse the wee one.

    A Pastor may spend hours preparing His message but this is a good ol’, “What would Jesus do?” scenario. How do you think Jesus would respond to a child playfully giggling or wailing loudly while He gave one of many talks in town, by the shore, or on a hillside?

  144. We bring our great granddaughter to church with us. She talks loud and chimes in with talking to her dolls or little rubber pets she brings with her. She can be playing and the minister asks hypothetical question and she answers it before he has it all said.

    When she is in the group of children for Children’s time,she is still loud and wants to answer all the questions. I am not embarresed by her . If she can make people smile and laugh ,then she is doing God’s work,even if she makes remarks about her Grandma. Ask her one time how she knows all the things about God and Jesus,and she will tell you ,that They are always in her head and her heart.

    Another thing is that she is in 2nd grade and wants all the kids to know about God or Jesus. She was very hurt when some of them told her there was no such person. Her parents had aTeacher /Parent meeting. Her parents were told by her teacher that she felt bad when the children remarked to her that there was no God. She told the parents that the child won’t give up that she is still trying to tell them,or I should say teach them. This little one boggles my mind and heart.

  145. My husband is a pastor and doesn’t hear kids or anything else while he’s preaching…teaching s as much “caught” as “taught!”

  146. I didn’t read all the cmments, but I bet the young man with the toddler in the story would really have appreciated some help from from all those wistful people watching him head for the door…

  147. At Johnson Road Baptist Church in Purcell Oklahoma everyone enters the sanctuary after Sunday School–We have our welcome , then all of our birthday and anniversary recognitions, prayer requests, offertory, the children’s choir sings every Sunday, if we are having the Lord’s Supper the children participate If not after we sing the children go to children’s worship service–this is for kids 2 yrs – thru grade school– where they too receive a lesson is different forms–could be a dvd version, cd version, storytime version, skit version–the elderly in our church are so supportive of the children and our youth. Our church is small in number but Mighty in the Lord!
    We have several children with various types of disabilities, ADHD, Sensory Disorders and others that have been turned away by other churches in the area. We love them all

  148. Love this! One thing though…please consider the wording “children of their own.” As a(n) (adoptive) parent, my (adopted) kids ARE my own, just as we are God’s own through adoption. Perhaps the term “biological children” would be more appropriate. Thank you!

  149. I just attempted church for the first time (since having baby #2) last Sunday with my 16 mo old and 7 week old, by myself, as my hubby is a very devoted hunter. It was quite the feat. But we were on time and dressed and I was proud. Then my 1 yr old started acting crazy & the baby started crying, and I started feeling like an idiot for even attempting this by myself. I was thankful for nursery and the kindness of the woman who steped in and held the baby so I could wrangle the 1 yr old. I left torn knowing I was doing the right thing, but why bother if I am disturbing others worship and not able to focus myself. This article (shared by my pastors wife) was encouraging and gave me confidence, thank you!

  150. Totally agree with article! My wife and I just recently had a little girl(5 weeks ago or so) and we also have a 15 month old special needs boy! This article has really encouraged me to keep bringing them into the service.
    The church we had been attending started a long list of nursery rules(some of which we agreed), but when it got to the rule where we “HAD” to put our kids in their that is were we kind of got upset and left! We haven’t found where we are going to go permanently but we will find a place eventually. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that the person in charge of the nursery did not like it when my wife would go in there! Well I am sorry my son has a feeding tube and needs the care of her to feed him! The church is in small rural area and went from 1 child to now having a 3 year old, 6 month old, newborn, and if we went a 15 month old and our newborn..That is the only reason the began all these rules anyways.
    Yes, maybe to a point children can distract from a service but so can SO many other things. Even I can still be distracted by the littlest things! LOL

  151. Amen to every one of these statements, you never know how much your child may be learning while in church. Thank God for understanding pastors.

  152. Wow! This is shocking to me…. No, people do not want to hear your children misbehaving in church. Sorry, but we don’t. That’s what the nursery is for. No one thanks that your children are as cute as you do, no one wants to be distracted from the word because of your child. If you insist on taking your child to church (into “big church”) either make them behave, realize they are not old enough to understand, sitting and listening for an hour +. All the while you are distracted trying to quiet your child, not only have you, the child, nor anyone else around you, heard a word that’s been said! And, an infant, if you have an infant, and don’t want to take them to the nursery, for whatever reason, sit in the back, and at the FIRST whimper, REMOVE the child!! Why people are so concerned about not wanting to “make” their child go to children’s church (if it’s offered) and leave their small toddler/infant in the nursery is beyond me…. They will get so much more out of church and the teachings if it is taught at their level. Oh and playing on an iPad/phone and shuffling paper, that’s a distraction, too! We as moms and dads, and everyone else In Church for that matter, deserve that time to worship, to worship our almighty God without interruption, without having to struggle to hear what’s being taught…. As soon as church is over, we will all ooooh and awwwwww over your baby, I promise, but let’s have focused, prayerful, calm, quiet and undistracted worship, first!

    • I agree that overly distracting children should be excused, but the first wimper theory you have is disagreeable to me, and I’m a preacher who’s often drowned out by loud toddlers. If that’s how you want it, I hope you have a church that gives you that very environment, but I wouldn’t want to be a part of such a church that treats children — or anyone — as distractions.

    • What if the offending noise maker is not a small child, but a disabled adult who can’t control his outbursts or is deaf and doesn’t realize how loud he is or is so mentally disabled that he can’t “get anything out of it”? What is your plan for these people?

      • those are things you CAN’T control- taking a crying, fighting kid to the nursery IS something you can control.

  153. Keep it in prospective… And I happen to be legally deaf (have about 20% hearing) and I struggle to hear what’s being taught, I struggle to stay focused, and disrupting (distractions) are very aggravating…. Keeping it in the prospective of a small, fidgety, toddler and or infant. At that point, it is up to the parents to consider others and take their small child out. This is all about small children in church, nothing about adult with disabilities; which I happen to be/have. My husband and I love children, we prayed and prayed and were finally, after 7 long years, we’re blessed with a son, who is now 9, and believe me, we think they are amazing, miracles, every last one of them, but hush em up in church! That’s all I’m saying.

  154. Pingback: Calvary Chapel Augusta | Children in Church - Calvary Chapel Augusta

  155. I was led to your article by fb shares from two parents from my church. I read quite a few comments and responses, but not all…. On the one hand, I agree that children are a valuable part of the church and should never be made to feel that they are a burden or a problem while they are in the sanctuary. One thing that helps children to behave is when the older members of the church ENGAGE these small worshipers before and after services and get to know them and their parents. On the other hand, I am thankful for ,– I have been on all sides of this article.
    I’ve been the child in church, mind wandering, playing with my mother’s fingernails, sucking on that magical piece of peppermint my grandmother seemed to always find at the bottom of her purse during the service–or folding paper into new and interesting shapes, drawing on offering envelopes. Later passing notes to my friends when I was a teenager, sucking back giggles and more interested in holding hands with my boyfriend or whether my clothes looked “cool” than in what the pastor was saying.
    I’ve been the parent attending a church where all ages stayed in the main service and there was a glass walled ‘cry room’ in the rear of the sanctuary for nursing and other mothers to tend to their children when needed, I’ve been the parent with the noisy, restless children in the service where no cry room nor nursery was available, who felt that eyes were baring down on her when others were disturbed, yet I wanted to teach them to sit quietly in service with me.
    I’ve been the parent who was relieved when there was a nursery to take my child to so I could get an hour’s relief to just take in the sermon and know that my child would be cared for by a fellow christian.
    For quite a few years, I WAS that nursery worker who cared for others’ children while their parents listened to the sermon.
    Now I am a mother of 2 adults and 2 teenagers. One of my adult children comes to church every week, the other, sporadically. Both will tell you that they come to church because it was a pattern that was consistent throughout their growing up, whether in nursery or not. Both will also tell you that they come to church not just to hear a sermon but for fellowship with their Christian family.
    Currently, I lead Children’s Church. Some, but not all, of the children in the church come to Children’s church, It is available for all who desire, but not necessary. We have a family whose children remain in the service every week.
    Playing with toys has never been the focus of my taking care of/teaching the little ones during services. It has always been very important to me to use the time to teach the children about their Savior on a level that they can understand. I try very hard to help them relate the truths of the Bible to their own lives and their level of understanding. It has never been just time to play.
    Some children who come to church have never attended it before and don’t know anything about sitting quietly while their parents do the same for a long period of time. If there is no nursery for those children, those parents will most likely feel that it would would have been better for them to have not come than to bring restless children into the service. The likely hood of their return after such an embarrassment is slim to none.
    Teaching nursery and children’s church gives the opportunity for me to use the talents that God has blessed me with to teach his youngest ones about his love and helps them develop the knowledge that he loves them just the way they are, not pretending to be something they are not. At our church, all ages remain in the sanctuary from opening, through communion, worship and praise songs, and the reading of scripture– then children are excused to children’s church for the sermon time. Sometimes, I wonder if we as humans dont try to change worship into something that is it not, simply because it is what we were taught. For such a long time, I was taught and believed that worship was about being reverent for an hour on Sunday.
    With many years of church going under my belt in may different churches and styles of worship/traditions/programs– I will tell you this– There is no ‘one size fits all’ way. People are bound to get their feathers ruffled no matter what is done or how it is done. The only way for people to not get all opinion-ey about stuff is for no one to ever do anything. Basically, if there are people who dont like what you are doing– it means you are doing something– keep doing it. Be prayerful and ask God for wisdom and guidance and do it humbly and in His service. Take your children to church to learn and fellowship & teach them at home. Teach them that true religion is not following traditions, or going to church for an hour or two during the week. Teach them to seek God in all they do, everyday with all their hearts and minds. Teach them to show love to one another. Teach them to see others the way He sees them. Teach them to seek wisdom, to love, and to forgive. Know every day as you go through life that everyone you meet is someone who Jesus gave his life for– even the ones with rough edges– even the ones that you think may be looking down on you for having children who make noise.

  156. Aubre,27 year old here, first off as a daughter in law of a pastor thank you for your service to God, now, I was raised down south here and was also raised in the church, I remember my favorite time being “children’s devotion” which was, as my grandparents who raised me put it, my reward for being good during service. If I was good, the last ten min of church, I was allowed to the front of the alter to be one on one with the pastor along with the other children. It is a time when the pastor talks just to the children, and does devotion in terms a child can understand better. This should be the case in most churches, it allows the children to understand “Look, I know you don’t understand most of service but if you are patient and let the adults praise, then you will have time to praise with the pastor, just like us!!” just a little note from what used to be that little girl in the pew next to you.

  157. I have to TOTALLY disagree here. I think that is what children’s church is for. they are still coming to Jesus, no one is hindering that.
    It is incredibly distracting when children are acting up in church. when it happens around me, I cannot focus at all. I get very frustrated because i do think it’s rude when there is a place for the children to learn about God right down the hall. And honestly, the children are not learning anything guys. Put them in children’s church where they can actually understand and absorb what they are hearing. It is much much better for them.
    And yes, I do have a daughter. And she will always be put in children’s church until she’s old enough to sit quietly. Not because you have to be quiet to be reverent, but because when you are acting OUT in church, you are distracting to those who are trying to pay attention.

      • that’s the only situation where i would agree with you, but i still believe silence should absolutely be enforced.

        my experiences with children in church come from large churches in cities with fully functioning children’s churches.

        i do however, think every effort should be made to have a children’s church with volunteers. the children would learn more and enjoy it.

        as I said above, i was forced to sit in church and behave. i never absorbed anything, and i certainly did not enjoy it. i grew up hating going to church as a child. and to this day as an adult, i struggle to want to go to church. just something to consider when people force their children to sit in church.

      • Why must we banish the children to a different room just because they’re children? What about adults with Downs Syndrome or other disabilities that make them childlike? Where are we supposed to send them?

  158. Well, I mean it’s not that big of a deal, but Steven you said “They have this warped idea that reverence includes absolute silence. It doesn’t.”. I have done some essays on the book called “The World of Silence” by Max Picard, and reverence does include absolute silence. The point that you were most likely getting at was that it would be incorrect to say that only absolute silence is reverence. Sorry, just a slight difference, but a very big deal, especially in our Roman Rite. Thank you for the article though, makes me smile about the possibility of raising children of my own.

  159. I have been prone to standing off to the side of the pew with the restless little while I watch the other kids from a distance. I try to avoid leaving the sanctuary altogether, because junior needs to learn that he or she goes with mom, and stays with mom, and does things in mom’s world. In turn, I’ve seen other parents begin to do the same with their wigglers. My preschooler has relative free reign to fidget in the pew as long as she is quiet. I know she’s absorbing the surroundings, but I respect her inability to be still as a statue and just as silent. We actually sit in the middle of the pew so she can’t escape either. She gets wiggle room, I get a quieter and more cooperative child, and anyone else around us can either like it, offer their suffering up over it, or sit elsewhere. If they get too restless, I warn them that they’re disturbing the prayers of those around us, and we need to be respectful of the people near us. My child gets the lesson imparted, and the neighboring parishoners hear me teaching it. If they still can’t get past it, then all I can do is keep praying for them that their hearts are warmed and they find peace somehow.

  160. At my church, we love children. That’s why we have a whole ministry dedicated to them. And we offer it on their level. Children should never be expected to sit and be happy during an adult service. It’s too boring for them, they need stimulation. Find a family church that caters to children, because if your children are happy then you will be too. And you can focus on the lesson with out worrying about them.

  161. As a Pastor, I want to thank you for your wonderful and meaningful observations of how children impact the whole of the church family. Sure, it can get distracting; however, it is a sign of life and vitality and what home with children isn’t a little distracted from time to time. I hope that this will encourage young families to come… and church families to embrace, help, encourage and bless those little ones and their well meaning, growing and tired parents. Children are a blessing.

  162. So is it so wrong to leave a church. Where there is a nursery but the Moms are not allowed in the nursery? Kids can be out in the service but the Pastor would prefer that they be in the nursery. ( As to not be a distraction) I am sorry but I would prefer to keep my kids with me..Is that so wrong? I like this article and it comes at a great time to read it.

  163. When I was a very small child I was told to be quiet in church and I was. I would never even think of misbehaving. I never had anything to amuse me in church to keep me quiet either. I remember as a child thinking it was terrible that other kids misbehaved in church. I’m sure there are still children today who are very small like I was who behave in church. You just never hear about them.

  164. I just recently left a church where – if there was an ‘interruption or noise of child’ – there was a man that would come tell the mother/father that there is a ‘nursing moms room’ outside of the sanctuary… This church has gotten so bad that the pastor even announces that ‘unless you are 60 or older, please refrain from getting up to use the restroom as it is a distraction’… I am soo glad we left that church! Not only are they elevating themselves above ALL OTHER CHURCHES – they don’t do much for our children… such a shame! We need to start our children off in the ways of the Lord… otherwise, whos to say how they’ll be as adults?!

  165. Our Pastor told us that there was plenty of time for ME to get something out of the service, the important part for me at that time was to make sure my kids were there. And they were, and are.

    2 are acolytes, and the 3rd will be next year. The older 2 will become communion assistants once they are confirmed.

    And they ARE MY OWN KIDS – who just happen to join our family through adoption…..

  166. Let those Babies and Young children “rejoice and be glad in it”. If someone has a problem focusing on the Pastor’s message that is your hang up/issue, not the child’s. Children need to be beside their parents/guardians….together as a family; witnessing, worshipping, and praising Jesus as one!!!!!!!!!!

  167. I would like to comment on a few things, both from the perspective of a parent with small children, and as the children’s director at our church.

    1. Children, at various ages and stages of development are physically incapable of having the sort of attention span that is required of most sermons. So while I understand “training” the children to be in church, I would not want to try to force my toddler to sit still for an entire sermon.

    2. To those people who believe that children should not be in the sanctuary during the worship service, I recommend that you volunteer to help with nursery/children’s church.

    Our church is very small. On a regular basis, the only children are my two (age 6 and almost 3). However, there are other children who occasionally attend or who would attend if we had a children’s church program. We have a nursery and we’ve begun extending the Sunday School lesson into the worship service time in there so that they aren’t simply sitting around playing with toys. I even went through the nursery and got rid of every toy that I couldn’t figure out a way to use with a Bible story or lesson. There are a LOT fewer toys in there now and most of them are the kind of open-ended toys that you can say to a toddler “Let’s build a manger today” and then next week be building a replica tower of Babel. Whatever your Bible story is.

    We DID have a children’s church curriculum. Children who are school-age would sit in the worship service during the singing part and then those K-3 would be excused during the sermon. We had to stop offering this because I lost two teachers. Because our church is so small, we only have one service and I make it very much a priority to keep my teachers from burnout (and this includes me). For that reason, I don’t allow the same person to volunteer for nursery or children’s church duty more than twice a month. And that goes double for my volunteers that are also Sunday School teachers. If you have a Sunday School teacher then working in the nursery, when are they supposed to be able to fellowship and worship with other believers to receive the renewal that *they* need each week.

    To those with kids who are young, if you want to train them to be in the entire worship service with you, more power to you. I pray that your church will support you in that. To those who find children to be a terrible distraction and you wish they’d all disappear from the worship service, I sincerely hope that you are backing that up by volunteering to help with the children’s programs in your church. If you truly believe that children do not belong in worship, yet you are doing nothing to help provide an alternative for the parents in your church, then it is YOUR fault that you are distracted. Trust me, the only reason a program director in a church would deny a volunteer is if they couldn’t pass the background check or if they felt that you had a true dislike of children and would therefore be more harm than good.

    I have wavered back and forth on my opinion of children’s church. I can see the argument that children don’t learn how to be in a worship service if they’re always removed from it. But I also believe that we need to be sensitive to the physical capabilities of given children and not expect things from them that they cannot give. Children are not adults and should not be required to behave as such. That said, there are a great many children who are capable of giving much more than they have been required to by their parents. And I defninitely think that keeping children out of the entire worship service does them a disservice. Once a child is old enough to be in school, they should be old enough to participate in worship. I only advocate children’s church for the younger elementary ages where they may be unable to read and would therefore benefit more from a message geared toward their level of understanding. And part of that message can easily be “This is how we behave in worship and these are the things we do and why.”

  168. Also, I’ve noticed many of the anti kids in worship commenters saying that they go to church to hear the preacher speak, not to listen to children. I would pray that they should go to church to hear *God* speak. And the preacher’s sermon is not the only or best way to hear God speak. Occasionally, the noise of children may be carrying a message to you.

  169. All true, but just want to make a statement for the childless. Sometimes church can feel overwhelmingly full of families and if you want children and can’t have them or want to be married and are not it is a devastating constant reminder. Know that sometimes the unhappy looks we give you aren’t because we dislike the noise, but are because we are trying to handle the grief of never being able to be you. Be there for us, not to talk endlessly about your children or how hard you find it or how churches need to serve them, but because we need normal, every day friends with different life experiences to hang out with and do Christmas with and share life with. Being drip fed with the need to serve in children’s church, courses on how to be married, preaches on how to raise children and be married can be really tough – important, but really tough. Please extend grace to us when we’re moody about your kids – it may be for a reason entirely different to the one you might assume.

    • KT

      I’m sorry church sometimes is so painful for you. You sound very lonely. I know dealing with lots of people in different stages of life can be very challenging and sometimes it’s a long road to find acceptance of where we are. Sometimes it’s “us” and sometimes it’s “Well, why can’t you accept where I am?” And I know telling someone who wants something real bad (like marriage and kids) that they are/can/should be content where they are doesn’t ease the pain, or help them know how to be content.

      Having kids though, doesn’t change the fact that we all go through the same thing.
      “but because we need normal, every day friends with different life experiences to hang out with and do Christmas with and share life with.” (and things like that)

      I hear you here! I remember sitting in the back of one church with my 5 year old, watching all the moms and dads come in and having a real hard time controlling my tears. It was extremely difficult to see, because at that time, we’d been living in a domestic violence shelter for two weeks. The life I wanted and really wish I had at that time just was not in my existence. So yeah, though I have a child – I do understand the pain you’re in.

      That was many years ago now, and looking back at all that’s happened since, my life in no way is how I would have planned it, or expected it to turn out, but I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s! So I’m not going to tell you to “hang on – something wonderful is just around the corner for you”…. I’m too much of a realist, I know life doesn’t turn out that way sometimes. But these were the points that I learned to be content in the grace of God and not my life circumstances.

      Most certainly, there are still times I trip up on this and start worrying about “oh they didn’t invite me out to lunch because…… (my marriage failed, my kid is too noisy, I’m too opinionated – or what ever the reason I may perceive that to be) I’m here to serve my Lord, not win a popularity contest! So yeah, I may spend my holiday working in a soup kitchen, because I don’t have any place to go either. And so if people “take issue” with me primarily because they would not want to be “blessed” with my life? That really isn’t my problem.

      So be encouraged in the grace of God and the redemption Jesus purchased with his own life. Because in the end, what ever I bring to earth that points people down the road to the Kingdom is all that matters. Being married, single, not having kids, or having kids (who may or may not be quiet in church) ultimately isn’t what matters in eternity!

  170. Young people, infants on up, are the life of the church. They should be welcomed in church as anyone else is welcomed. They should be taught that they are an important part of the church body. Families should worship together. A bit of noise from a child is not inappropriate. I think anyone would agree that children throwing tantrums or yelling should be lovingly disciplined in order to learn appropriate and respectful behavior in a worship situation. How else are kids going to learn if they are never allowed to join you in the sanctuary?
    That being said, churches should also respect those families whose decision is to leave their child in the nursery or send them to a children’s church experience. This is a familial decision and not one for others to judge.
    The bottom line is, as Christians we need to support one another. If that decision is keeping a toddler in church with their family or dropping them off with the nursery workers. Support…make googly eyes at the antsy toddler during offering to give the parents a small reprieve to fish their wallet out. Offer to drop their preschooler off at children’s church on your way to the restroom.
    And, above all else, don’t judge! That judgmental look may cause a new Christian or a fragile person to turn away from the church and God when they need it the most. We don’t know what has brought people to the point they are in; compassion always.

  171. If a child is talking or crying and screaming, neither they or their parents are getting much out of the sermon. A good church will offer a room or space to the side where the parents can hear the sermon, but still attend the children. I don’t mind hearing a child talk a little or a little whimper, but a full blown crying session needs to be dealt with as it is distracting to not only the congregation but is usually a sign that the child needs something they are not getting in the worship service. Teach your young ones to be quiet in service it is a wonderful thing to teach a child, respect for others, something not taught anywhere enough these days.

  172. While I agree with you on some points, speaking as someone who dealt with infertility for 7 years prior to adopting our son, I believe you are way off base when you say….

    “They’d love to talk to you for a little while about the joys of your children. They need you.”

    It is incredibly painful to have babies around and present when you are walking this journey. It is a constant reminder of what is not only missing but completely unattainable. It leaves the strongest believer asking “Why not us God”. It will turn your attention almost immediately from the message to your struggle. I get what you are trying to say, but honestly unless you have walked this road you cannot understand what it is like.

    As a parent of a 3 year old I am a huge advocate for children being taught at a level they are able to understand and unfortunately I don’t believe most ministers (if any) teach at that level. Not to mention when a pastor uses the words “stupid”, “dumb”, etc from the pulpit, thats not what I want my child exposed to, ESPECIALLY at such a young age. I think overall this is a big debate in the local church but those churches I have observed the most healthy growth (in 16 years of ministry) it is from those who have a solid children’s program.

  173. I enjoyed this article. I’m almost 30 years old and it stirred memories. As a quiet child I found it fun to stay for some hymns watch communion being passed around and then we would go to another building on site and sing more kids songs before breaking up into age groups and having a bible study.

    I am now a solo mum. I got frustrated at my last church because at 4 yrs old my girl would ask for attn just as I was getting caught up into worshipping. So I prayed about it. I’m now at a church where I lead by example and they have banners and ribbons to use for worship and like my childhood go out after communion.

    I read someone talking of the way Jesus talked to his disciples. Look up the word indignant. Look at different versions. Jesus was angry over the disciples treatment of children. I am learning so much about God through observing the children and listening to my daughter.

    The church isn’t dying it is transforming.

  174. Several Sundays ago,, two little girls were playing during church service in the front row of the balcony. They seemed so absorbed in their play! Then, while the pastor was preaching, one of them turned to her mother and asked her a very good question about something the pastor had just said. We assume they don’t pay attention to anything else while they play, but they do!

  175. I have 5 kids. When they were little, I spent time preparing a “busy bag” for them that contained quiet things to keep them occupied during the service. I worked hard to train them to play quietly and not be disruptive. If we had a trying day, out of respect for others, we’d move to an area where they wouldn’t disturb others.

    Now days I think parents do not work to train their children, nor do they respect others. We also do wedding and event videography. People pay us well to record their event. It is very annoying when parents insist on sitting with a defcon 10 screaming child in the middle of the service and not even the bride and groom can hear what is being said. It happens a lot.

    My daughter just went to an event costing $50 per ticket and people sat in front of her with a screaming child so that the surrounding people couldn’t even hear the event. When the ushers tried to convince them to remove the child the parents were offended and argued with the usher.j

    Parenting isn’t an easy task, but “home training” is a necessity. Everyone has a difficult day now and then, but don’t force others to endure your bad day. Barking dogs and screaming children are not pleasant for anyone and they need attention. Do you realize that emergency vehicles sirens are patterned after human infant crying? It draws peoples attention like nothing else.

    Respect others. It is a lesson children should learn from the beginning. Sure, families with children belong in church. Be intentional and train your children well. Everyone will be happy they are present.

  176. To all who love and care about influencing the next generation’s picture of God…and helping parents become the influencers…giving them tiny ways to connect what they hear on Sunday with what happens at home all week…you must…MUST…check out Orange. WhatisOrange.org

    Orange is revolutionizing churches of all denominations by making children a central priority and creating relevant, amazingly engaging and creative environments for them, adults, and adults and kids to attend together too. The churches moving in this direction are NOT dying but bursting at the seams. Find one here or become one!

    My kids…our family has never been the same…

  177. Pingback: Article: To You Who Bring Small Children to Church | Pastor-Theologian

  178. I started attending church as an adult about 2 years ago. My parents always took me and my sibling when we were younger and I don’t recall it being very stressful on our our family. So when I started attending I didn’t think twicpe about taking my 3 children. What a nightmare it has been. I woke up every Sunday feeling that it would be different this week. But I would leave church feeling frustrated, angry, and disappointed. I wanted to feel uplifted. I started missing church more and more frequently untill one Sunday I decided I would try again. Well not much had changed but I felt this overwhelming understanding come over me on our way home. We ate lunch then went on a hike in our woods. I told my whole family to stop and listen. Not move a thing but there eyes. Not to make a noise but breath. After one minute of this I said for each of them to tell me something they saw or heard. Then I asked if they would have heard or seen it if they wouldn’t have stopped and listened. They all said no. I explaind how that was what reverance is. That God wants us to listen for him. That if we don’t we could miss something really awesome that God has ment for us to hear. My children aren’t perfect but we all learned a really important lesson that day.

  179. I was invited to attend a small church last year, I was nervous about taking my then 2 year old. My little guy kept running up and down the aisle, or playing with toys until the preacher began his service. I tried really hard to keep him entertained , I knew in my gut an hour and half was way to long for him to stay coupe up. I felt terrible, like I was a distraction to everyone else, I barely knew anyone there but the guy that invited me. So I took my kiddo outside so he could run around in the big open yard. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by five members that barely knew me and barely knew them. They hung out with us until the services was over and they still invited us to lunch, some of the men where even chasing my little guy around the yard .

  180. I am on the fence about this. Just this Sunday a mom let her 4 year old son run back and forth up and down the whole front row. Thankfully no one was sitting in that pew, but It was distracting for everyone. You can say “That is an unacceptable situation” but where do you draw the line? The way I teach my children to behave is certainly different than how this lady makes hers behave. I have a 4 year old son and he was in the toddler room BECAUSE he would run around during church if I let him. It’s distracting and I think that is the problem. Another true situation from 2 weeks ago: A couple had their 6 month old baby there and again, they sat up front. They got the baby giggling and making noises, then the baby got hungry and she cried and cried. The people around tried making faces at her, whispering,, reaching over the seats playing with her, trying to get the baby to stop crying.

    So-do you want the newest visitors to your church to leave the service remembering more about the 4 year old running up and down the pew or the 6 month old giggling and playing with the other adults in the front section? Again, do you stipulate- “Your child can stay in the service IF they behave”- but to whose standard? According to the pastor or one of the elders? Who makes that rule? Who enforces it? Obviously, each family’s rules of behavior is different. If it is discouraged to keep ALL distracting kids/babies in the service, and you provide acceptable, comfortable alternatives (nursery with volunteers, toddler room with play toys, preschool class with lesson and teacher) then that is overall a better situation.

    When my kids were infants and toddlers (my youngest is now 3 1/2) I always thought “What if the actions of my baby/toddler keeps someone from coming back to church because they sat behind me and got NOTHING out of the service bc my family was so distracting? Wouldn’t that be awful to know that someone missed the message of Christ because you had kids running around, crying, playing? It may be idealistic to say that people can ignore that, but there are many that can’t. I don’t believe the worship service has to be quiet, but free of distractions is best. After all, aren’t we there to learn more about God, to worship with other believers?

    Our church runs about 250 total, and there are at least 40 families with kids, so we have a lot of kids. I know all about bringing young kids to church. My husband and I are 30 yrs old- it is a struggle, but I believe that EVERYONE gets more out of the service (us, bc we aren’t fighting with our kids- the people behind us and beside us- can focus on the message- and the kids, who are learning an age appropriate lesson.) And hopefully, the visitor who is sitting behind us, that is hearing about God for the first time, can absorb everything the pastor is saying, spend time in prayer during communion, and leave having learned about our wonderful God, rather than cooing and playing with the kids sitting in front of her. What a missed opportunity to win another soul to the Lord!

  181. There are obviously many opinions here, and I hate to read all these stories of “churches” rebuking parents who allow their children to remain in worship serices. Let’s let Jesus simplify things:

    Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) —

    “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

    And just for grins and giggles, how about Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)? —

    “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

    So many are guilty of the what the disciples themselves did that day with the children. And Jesus was swift to correct them. How will children learn (or, how are we expected to train them) how to behave during a worship service if they’re not present for a worship service?

  182. I am now 55 yrs old. I raised all my 7 children from new born infants to be in church. To know and to understand and teach them how important the Lord is in my life and hopefully in theirs as they came to grow and learn. Yes there were times when they grew bored, tired or hungry. I was prepared for all their needs and sometimes even the best preparation wasn’t enough. Sometimes i told myself was it even worth it, to take them out and sit with them and miss half of the messages I wanted to hear, but I persevered.
    By the time they were 3-5, they learned what the word “reverence” meant. By teenage years they attended, because what they learned and prayed about for themselves, was an individual and personal need they desired. By the time those years rolled on, they had the freedom to choose to go or stay. some of them stopped, some of them stayed, and it was ok. Because when they were ready they came back.
    Now as parents, my children are grown and teach the very same things to their children because they know the importance of what it is to have a testimony of Christ. The crying and the whining and the fretful times can be overcome with patience and love for your children and with the conviction that reverence should be taught to them in a loving way. It is but for a very short time when looking at the bigger picture.

  183. Interesting article and obviously a very sensitive and passionate topic for the majority of people.

    I personally find when children repeatedly shriek out repeatedly or are loud and acting out in church, restaurants, movie theaters, etc… very stressful and causes anxiety.

    This isn’t annoyance or opinion… it just physically and psychologically causes stress to me. I have learned to cope over my life of course because families and children are apart of this world and yes it’s beautiful and I highly respect those who chose to raise children.

    When people are not around children or babies at all and that has not been a part of their life or experience it can be very stressful to be around. Possibly news to some on this thread? so maybe you will find this useful.

    The article sites all the different people groups in church who would somehow be touched by all of this. Either they are older folks (or folks with older kids) and remember all of the memories of once raising a young family and can relate, or they are couples without children who are longing for kids and it will encourage them.

    Well there is another people group that doesn’t fit the mold here…

    Now based on the type of readers and comments in this blog and from what I’ve read so far…I don’t expect to see a lot of compassion about my situation. Married women, no kids by choice, having physical stress at the foreign sounds of repeated screaming and whining in church.

    So anyways… just wanted to represent the couples without kids perspective. We highly respect those folks who raise children – and no, we don’t have understanding of what it’s like to be in your shoes. Bless you for taking on the parental responsibilities!!

    But it goes both ways…. loving one another in the body means sacrifice as well for another. My husband and I do that day after day. We are respectful and try our best to understand how difficult it must be to be a parent of small children so we don’t react or make rude comments when things happen. We pray for and encourage the parents. We do our best.

    I guess I am looking for some balance here… it goes both ways.
    God bless you!

  184. I think it all depends on what is offered at that particular church for little ones. If they are missing out on a dynamic kids’ program because their parents want to have them with them in the sanctuary, that’s a shame. But if nothing is offered for the kids, it is much better that there’s some distraction in the service than for a family to miss worshipping together.

  185. Thank you for this article. I really love the spirit of the article, pointing out how important children are to the life of a church and their rights to be in church. I enjoyed your perspective on the joy children and young families bring to the rest of the church.

    I am a parent of a 5 year old girl. We consider ourselves to be Christians – we believe in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world and we look for His Second Coming with eagerness. I would like to say, though, that my daughter finds church to be an unpleasant experience. The service isn’t geared for her, it’s geared for an adult audience. She loves her Sunday school class (in our case, Sabbath school as we are Seventh-day Adventist Christians). We talk about Jesus and discuss Bible stories at home. We emphasize the real celebrations behind Christmas and Easter. But we don’t make her sit through church. We feel it’s unfair to her, especially if a preacher feels the need to speak for over 30 minutes. They lose me too! The most we’ve done with her is stay for the first part of the service that includes the praise and worship time, prayer, offering, and the children’s story, then we leave.

    I’m not saying that everyone should do this or that people are inconsiderate of their children to make them sit through church. And I don’t feel that what we’re doing is necessarily a bad thing, especially since so many people have now resorted to iPads and smartphones to keep their kids occupied and quiet. My feeling is she can play with a smartphone or tablet at home. What I’d like to see is more thought given to the fact that there are children in church and how we can engage them. Can they sit with their parents for the praise time and then have kids’ church while the adults are listening to the sermon? I would love that for my daughter and she’d be the happier for it.

  186. Steven, I appreciate what you are trying to say with this article, but like several other posters here, my husband and I also struggle with infertility and I do not agree with what you said about the infertile couple “needing” the couple with children and wanting to share their joy in their children.

    Like a previous poster, Sam, I too love the children in our church and am happy for the many couples who have been blessed by children. In this season of my life, I do not enjoy watching parents with young children because it just reminds me again of what God has, in His wisdom, not chosen to bless me with in this season of my life. It is hard and it is painful to watch the joy of others, though of course I am happy for them and for their blessing. That is not to say that I’m not thrilled our church cares so deeply for the children in our midst and desires to serve them, teach them and guide them. I’m thrilled to see them as an active participants and members of our church. However, the presence of young children in service does not by any means bring me joy, just a painful throbbing. Frankly, there are days when I’ve had to leave service at the sight of a mother holding her baby because all it made me want to do was cry. And honestly, the last thing I want to do is to talk to that couple “about the joys of your children”. It’s like asking a homeless person to discuss your beautiful new 4-bedroom home. I’m happy to discuss travel plans, family get-together, your current bible study, .. . but please keep me out of conversations about how beautiful your baby is or that really cute thing they just learned to do last week. Please, do not complain to me about how hard it is to be a new parent or how expensive kids are, because while I’m sure your points are valid and your frustration is real, all I’m really thinking is that you should be counting your blessings. And no, I don’t want to babysit your little angels, because watching and playing with your kids and pretending to parent is not the same thing as being a parent. And while I’d love to be an auntie to your child, I really am not needing that additional heartache right now and it does not fill the void of being childless and doesn’t even make it any more bearable. If I were to be an auntie to them, I want it to be a blessing for them and not because I feel the need to use my relationship with them to fill the void in my heart where my child should be. So thanks, but no thanks.

    Steven, while I appreciate that you probably mean well with the anecdote about the couple in your church who was told they couldn’t have children, but ultimately God blessed them with a child, honestly, it’s not always helpful to hear stories like that. I do believe that God is sovereign over all things, including our barrenness, but whether or not God ultimately chooses to bless my husband and I with a child, biological or otherwise, does not make God any more or any less an awesome, gracious, wise, loving, good & merciful God or any less my God. I don’t equate God’s goodness to me with His choosing to bless us with a child. And God not blessing me with a child does not mean I’m any less devoted to Him, any more persistent in my prayers, or have any less faith than another couple that God chooses to bless with children. Too often it feels that when people share these stories with you about how God blessed them or another couple they know with a child, it was the result of their fervent prayers, great faith, etc.. God is good and gracious because of who He is and He bestows good presents to His children, but in His wisdom, He blesses us all uniquely and sometimes in ways for reasons only known to Him.

    On a different note, as a former children’s pastor who was trained in children’s ministries (I stepped down due to church financial issues resulting in my position being eliminated), I don’t necessarily agree with you that bringing young children into the service is necessarily the best option. I see too many children who are too young to understand the sermon or what’s happening in service being made to sit through them week after week “for their benefit”. Often they are given busy work to do (usually a color page) that has no teaching or spiritually beneficial value, made to listen to sermons full of vocabulary words they don’t know, sing songs that don’t appeal to nor understood by them, and watch people partake in activities like tithe and communion that they are not invited to participate in. I believe that as a church, we can do better than that for our young children. I see the value of children seeing adults participating in service (but let’s be honest, a lot of times, they are also seeing many adults who are inactive participants in service, not just active participants) and being made to feel that they are just a much a part of the church as their parents, but I think we can make that happen more productively by having them attend monthly (or more often) family-friendly services that take into consideration the benefit of all attending, not just those 12 and older. Or by having them share in a portion of the service that is most kid-friendly and inviting, like praise, and then having them join their peers in spiritually enriching bible study/children’s service (aka, not just babysitting) that best caters to their understanding and engages their hearts so that they can learn more about God and His love for them than they could by sitting and/or coloring through a 30 minute sermon written to appeal to and engage primarily adults.

  187. Of course, we should totally forget and ignore that fellow, or young lady, or teen, or elderly man sitting near the back of the sanctuary, deep in conviction, seriously considering his/her eternity, standing on the precipice, facing the most life changing, soul saving decision one ever faces, when suddenly, a small child screams, cries, or just ‘shuffles around’. Yes, it was only just the smallest of interruptions, not something one should be overly concerned with, yet, just enough to distract, at the most important of moments, the lost soul searching for the correct answer to a life of sinfulness, just enough, just distracting enough to prevent that person from making their decision,,,,,,,,afterall, there IS still time, there will be the ‘next’ time,,,,,,,right?
    __ My own Mother, God rest her soul and give her peace, raised her children to be quiet in Church, to be respectful of God’s work, in, or out of Church, she taught her children that never interfering in solemn moments may help ensure that a sinner will certainly have their opportunity to stand face-to-face with their eternity, to look into the face of desolation, and make their choice, make their choice free from the encumbrance of outside interference, she admonished us to do this, if for no other reason than to help ensure that, come judgment day, there would be no cause for fingers to be pointer our way, pointed by a sinner who was distracted just enough to delay making their decision for Christ.
    __ Yes, I too believe Jesus has a ‘special’ place in his heart for the ‘little ones’, yes, Jesus admonished and rebuked the disciples for preventing the children, but folks, I know for a FACT parents can, if they so choose, “raise their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, can raise their children up in a Bible believing, spirit filled, God fearing atmosphere where God is over all, and where the servants of the living God raise up prayer warriors, children who know and love God above all else and understand the importance of ‘soul saving’ and it’s relevance even today.
    _ This then, is the simplest reason for a ‘childrens Church’, where Children can be a bit restless, or even a tad unruly and not disturb the work of the Holy Spirit, work that could be the difference between an eternity spent in Heaven, or………. Well, I pray that while responding to this important issue I have not offended someone as that is not my intention. Please forgive me if I have, but, please, give my words some thoughtful contemplation as well, a lost soul may well depend upon it.

    • How interesting it is that, as you say, a child can disrupt the work of the Holy Spirit. Good thing that God didn’t have a child making noise while He was speaking creation into being.

      • I don’t think that was Kent’s intent there… though I cannot speak for him.

        I totally understand what he is saying though for sure. No one can disrupt the Holy Spirit… tis true. He will accomplish His work with or without us! But when there is a certain atmosphere of repentance or someone is deep in the throws of a breakthrough for healing… it is deeply serious and intense. Any disruption can break that – I don’t care if the sound system has feedback suddenly or people in the pew behind them are yacking loudly… it is a sensitive moment and disruptions can break a moment.

        This is a common thing for the body of Christ. We are humans and have emotions and sensitivities… and a break in the flow of what is happening during a worship service can be frustrating.

        I think that is what was meant to be conveyed. No one is denying the working power of the Holy Spirit – only that we are human and disruptions are just that… disruptions.

      • Sally, if that’s the case, then we all agree. No one or distraction can thwart the Holy Spirit’s work.

        I’d also add that the early church worship was meant for a time of instruction for Christians and wasn’t an evangelistic enterprise as it is in the 21st century.

        Moreover, if we as Christians are doing our duty and taking the Gospel to humanity, we’ll have more conversions sitting at someone’s home than we will in a worship service. The problem is that we’ve replaced personal evangelism with the worship service.

        Jesus said to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world…” Jesus didn’t say, “World, go to church…”

        From my personal experience, I’ve had more conversions through studying with people in their homes, or in my office, than I have had through a sermon in worship. The sermon typically is broad to encompass the entire congregation, and some people do respond to it. However, there’s no replacement for that one on one attention and study.

        If we don’t do our jobs as Christians, we don’t need to blame crying babies. We need to look in the mirror and admit that we’re not fulfilling the Great Commission. Babies aren’t at fault. Our apathetic and uncaring hearts are the problem.

  188. children learn by doing they watch and follow you there leader. It might not seem like it but it is true , I have a grandson who learned to fold his hands and pray before he could talk. one of the first words he learned was AMEN as he grows I know he will learn the rest.

  189. “They’ve thought about adopting, but they’re not sure if that’s what they want to do or if they will keep on trying to have children of their own.” Adopting a child/children makes them children of your own. In the big picture, they all belong to God. God put them in your home and they are your own. I am sure this comment was not meant to make adopted children feel like they don’t really “belong” and to convince couples that don’t have kids, that adoption is 2nd best choice. but that is how it comes across. Kirk Cameron and his wife Chelsea adopted 3 of their kids first, then had 3 biological children afterward to ensure the adopted children that they were not the second choice…. they are all equally theirs. We need to educate people about loving children and it doesn’t matter who gave them birth, for God breathed the breath of life into all of them equally.

  190. This is so true. We struggle to keep them still but they keep on and on. The Lord truly knew that’s how they would be so he made all the aunts and the uncles to assist. Keep training them in the Lord by bringing them to church. One day they will actually get the message of growing in the Lord.

  191. Sorry but I can’t agree with your article. Sure it’s lovely for some people, but as someone who’s been struggling with infertility for over five years now, I find it far too distracting and heart breaking hearing children crying, etc, in church. Unless you’ve gone through infertility yourself, you’ll never understand the pain this can bring. I’ve actually stopped going to church because I can’t get anything from it except hurt. I’d love to be able to go to church and listen and worship without distractions but that just isn’t gonna happen so instead I get closer to God by staying home and either reading or watching a sermon on the internet and playing worship music around the house. I wish I could feel like I’m part of the church family but it’s too hard for me and also too hard for others who don’t want to feel guilty when they’re around us that they have so many kids while we can’t.

  192. May I print this in our church bulletin on Dec. 8th when we have our next Baby Dedication? If so, to whom may I credit it?

      • I have read a lot of this and I say Small Children are what keeps our Churches going. We had a Thanksgiving Dinner a couple of nights ago and the Young Adults were in charge. They greeted everyone as we came in and they helped serve the Dinner and it was wonderful. I would guess there were over 200 at our get to Gether and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We love all the Children in our Church and keep them coming. We are 80 and they surely don’t bother us… Love them all.

  193. Thank you for this! I had been wanting to keep my daughter in the service but when she was first born but craved the church time that I had been used to (alone!) prior to having her. After 2 years fighting with God over the matter and she wouldn’t even stay in the nursery I conceded. She stays with me every service and now that MY attitude has changed, she is getting used to it. It has been a process but is one that is worth the effort. Just last week the night before church we reminded her that we were going in the morning. She responded by saying Pastor talk about Romans. That is the book we had been going through and we had NOT mentioned the book name to her. She is 28 months old. I refuse to believe little ones are not soaking up what is being said. The foundation is being laid during the 1 1/2 hrs she attends church every week. Like you wrote in the comments, nobody ever mentions how distracting adults can be in church. They are often the worst, chatting amongst themselves when someone is talking up front, rifling through their bags, or messing with their phones.

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  195. I love that children are welcome to our church service! So many churches now have signs that say that children under a certain age must go to day care. I love seeing the little children in our church services. I especially love watching them grow over the years! Kids very quickly can and do learn how to participate in worship, even liturgical worship likes ours! As a Lutheran Day School teacher all my first grade kids can find hymn pages, read parts of the liturgy, and participate in the prayers of the church. It also develops great listening skills, which many kids today are lacking! LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME!

  196. My wife and I had an awful experience with some of the people from church. At our church they have a crying room w/sound proof glass and speakers. It is nice and when our youngest was younger we would go there on Sundays w/our four boys. Once the youngest was old enough we went into the regular pews. On our first time out we sat, all six of us, in a pew a few from the back. Before the mass started we told the people behind us that it was our first time having him out of the crying room and that we apologize ahead of time if there are any disturbances as we really didn’t know what to expect. I was a little more concerned about the older boys bickering but they were never loud or over a whisper and the little one did tend to go back and forth between his mother and I during the whole mass. Over all though I was proud of them and thought they did pretty good. Well at the end the people behind us, what looked to be an older mother and her middle aged son, were saying something about us and giving us a dirty look. So I said to the man is there a problem? He replied that he thought our children were bad and distracted him the whole time from the sermon. My wife was in shock and felt very hurt and I just said What? These kids have had excellent behavior! Not once did they make any loud noises or do any thing that should have distracted you. As far as the little one moving around n such he’s barely three dude I don’t know what your thinking but he acted very well. My wife was in tears and was very sad that this had happened. We went and told our priest about what had happened and he was comforting and said to ignore those people and that he wants us there all the time w/all our children. Ever since then a lot of the readings and themes have been about people coming down off there high horses and stop judging others. One in particular was about people who run around with there halo’s on looking down on others for being sinners or not being as godly as they are. That they need to take off those halo’s and take there noses out of the air ,along w/there heads out of there asses I say, and let the lord be the one who does the judging. The guys is really lucky that I have been going to church and trying to better myself or I would have beaten him severely. He did apologize, out of embarrassment mostly, but I have forgiven him and his mother. Just hope they have since taken off those halo’s :)

  197. I saw this article shared on a friend’s Facebook page and it really struck a chord. As a youngster I was constantly silenced by my mother. Most often in company, at the shops, the hairdressers, visiting friends – even at church when I was very young. This continued into my teenage years, my mother would tell me to shut my mouth otherwise I’ll embarrass her. It’s one of the most vivid memories I have of childhood, along with gross materialism bordering on neglect. Nowadays I have trouble speaking up and mostly feel like I am worth nothing, or some superficial material amount.

    Take your kids to church, take them everywhere and be proud of them. Kids need to be seen and heard and included and valued. Do not silence them, for they are the future of our world. A child is as beautiful as the brightest rainbow you have ever seen and more precious than diamonds. A being worthy of God’s love and guidance must surely be worthy of ours?

  198. Great article. I’ve noticed several others have requested permission to reprint and it’s been granted. I don’t want to use it without asking, so, could we have permission to put it in our bulletin? If printed, the web address would be included as well. Thanks for your efforts.

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  200. My church has a nursery and toddler rooms to leave your children so you don’t have to worry about them during the church service.

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  202. I see much of this discussion not so much as should young children be in church as whatever happened to good manners in public places. People behave in church, in movie theatres, in concert halls and other performance-type venues as if they are the only ones there. Yesterday in church my chair was kicked regularly by the toddler behind me, who spent much of the morning in conversation with his parents, chips and cookie bags crackled throughout the sanctuary, several people in my pew had to come and go during the service, and there was a constant buzz of sound from the attendees during each message given, sermon, communion, giving and announcements. Our church service is a little over an hour and a lot of singing. We have a nursery but no toddler church any more. It is lovely that we have a wonderful children’s ministry and many families, but let’s try to bring up the kids to respect the circumstances and people around them.

  203. In the church I occasionally visit it is not the babies that bother me but the older children that are not disciplined. They lay on the floor in the isle, they twirl papers around on pencils, they talk, they often get up and move about or go to the bathroom, they play with cars and make noise, They go to the small “nursing” room and are loudly talking. Little or nothing is done to keep the the children (ages 3 through 12) quiet. It is so distracting I cannot pay attention to the service. I do not have children myself but have raised a number of siblings and have been active in the children’s ministry when I was younger but this church seems to be run by the children. Even some adults talk often, “cuddle”, or do other distracting things. No one says anything to anyone so people continue to be distracting. I usually leave the church feeling crabby and distracted rather than refreshed by the service. So what is the point of me going? I’ve quietly asked the older children to be quiet but they don’t often listen and it isn’t my job to parent them. A number of the children are “bus kids” which is great but a deacon or someone needs to be put in charge of them if they are there without their parents. The church is small and doesn’t have room to have a Jr. church at least not at the present time. I’d like to find another church but this one is so close to my home it would be nice to attend there. The minister, who lives just across the field from me, has yet to come visit me about joining the church so I have not been able to discuss my concerns with him. It is a sad situation and I don’t know what to do about it.

  204. Another way of looking at this:
    God has gifted many in the church some to teach babies in the nursery and toddlers or children in Children’s church where they are shared the love of Jesus in their own terms and it gives weary moms/dad’s an opportunity to be loved on in church and listen intently to what God is teaching them.
    I have 3 children who were either with us in church or in the nursery(I am a musician and was on the worship team), or children’s church. My children loved wherever they were! (I appreciate those who God called to minister to my children) They learned God’s Word, and fell in love with those ministering to them.
    Sometimes I am honestly frustrated when kids are disruptive because it can be a distraction to a teen or adult who may be in a crisis and they do need to hear and reflect on the message/worship.
    We all need to be kind and courteous to others and ask the Holy Spirit to lead our actions, give us discernment and not only think of ourselves but how it affects each individual.

  205. Thank you for this article. I have been to 2 different churches in the last year in MI Conference where I was made to feel like I shouldn’t be there because my kids were making noise no matter how hard I tried to get them to stop. Definitely made me think twice about wanting to go back to those churches.

  206. Those who think that children should not be heard in church are selfish. They think the messages received in church are THEIRS alone and those who have children should GET OUT. The message needs to be heard by anyone who may benefit from it, not only those without children, and the children exposed to the message will get at least some of it, and more understanding as they get older. Its a valuable lesson in courtesy as well.

    And think about the parents themselves who are missing the message they want to hear under the concern for the others who also want to hear.

    I am all for “Crying rooms” in churches which can mitigate the disturbances, and perhaps a child attendant who watches the children in the “Crying Room” so the parents may attend services and get a short break.

    Courtesy to those who are raising our next generation is a two way street, Parents need courtesy too. They are exhibiting their courtesy by taking noisy children OUT.

  207. There’s an old preacher saying that goes “I’d rather hear a baby cry than an old man snore.” I’ve used that saying many times when preaching and people are obviously uncomfortable about a “noisy” child. The saying seems to lighten the mood and put all at ease, including the parents of the child.

  208. this comment is on the CHURCH…as an “INSTITUTION”….I live in a rural area in a southern state.I have ceased to attend a Church, because I cannot find one true to GOD”S word.I see services, with no teaching of the word….I see that teaching the WORD to the whole congregation in services has ceased. I see that the replacement for that….( sunday school), has also ceased to be a teaching of GOD”S word. I say that if your pastor is not teaching the word of GOD from the pulpit , perhaps he NEEDS to be interrupted. Stop preaching, and start teaching, even if you have to go learn it, and perhaps you will be interrupted less. Remember, coincidence is NOT a kosher word. To those of you with a shred of intellegence, and any level of knowledge of the word…..I am at msterpaul@yahoo.com…please know that racist, arrogant, or desparately ignorant responses WILL be blocked as spam.Christians, will be answered.

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  211. Once there was a young lady struggling with her son who was about 2. He was smiling at me and waving and playing peek-a-boo and I was loving every minute of it. She was trying to control him but to no avail and i could tell she was frustrated. I wanted to ask her if I could hold him so she could get a break – and she would know that his movement was not bothering me at all. I hesitated because I was not sure what she would think of some strange man asking to hold her child. Then, I guess her frustration got the better of her and she got up and left. My wife went to look for her to offer assistance so she could go back in the service but never found her. I felt horrible thinking that she might never come back. I made a vow with myself that I would never let unfounded fear stop me from lending someone a hand.

  212. This post reminds me of ‘family driven faith’ by voddie baucham. I have always been diagnosing my own experiences in church and what I would consider authentic over fake and root causes over symptoms and how to be a proponent of change. And I have to say I’ve done a 360 from my initial blaming. Now I realize it is not the fault of the corporate church with all its many symptoms of ‘disease’ and petty disagreements. Our attention would be better focused on the first and second greatest commandments. God said the second commandment is like the first and my closest neighbor is my family. The solution to all the church’s problems (and everything else going wrong in my life)? Family. It is the first and most pressing discipleship opportunity. As a husband and one day Lord-willing a dad I find it my task to engage in life and worship together, mishaps and all. Only then will I have a right and Godly perspective. When we silence children in our times of worship I liken it to ‘segregation’ and selfishness. I hope that one day when I have children I can be strong enough to ignore the excuses and focus on the root. Thanks for the post. Much needed.

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  215. I don’t think children should be in church. I think it should be prohibited actually. Children haven’t had the chance to make their own decisions on what the think about life and religion. Your forcing it upon them though when they are surrounded by it from a young age. They don’t ever get a chance to explore options or choose, and I think that’s wrong. They should only go once they are old enough to understand what going to church means.

    • So would you also say that children shouldn’t be forced to go to school and should chose for themselves? Is not any form of education indoctrination?

  216. Reblogged this on A Bit of This, A Dash of That and commented:
    One of my most favorite things about my church is the Sunday evening family services. There is just something about hearing littl children worship their Savior that makes this mama’s heart happy. I have met some that think children should not be heard in church. I disagree…those small voices and little distractions show the livelihood of a church. It’s proof that the church is alive and thriving. Jesus wanted the children brought to him, messes, noises, distractions and all….thankful for a church that intentionally reaches out to families with children and extremely thankful for our Pastor and Children’s Pastor and their dedication to my babies.

  217. I can agree with most of the article, except the statement near the end “If you can’t hear crying, then the church is dying.” We have always attended churches with nurseries, toddler, and preschool programs provided during services. I respect those who have other traditions, but as a child I benefitted greatly from teaching on a level I could understand, in amounts of time that I could handle, with play, craft, and snack time in between. From an early age I loved to go to church: a place where I learned about God’s love for me, about Jesus’ sacrifice and salvation, about the Holy Spirit, about the great Biblical examples of men & women who followed the Lord. I never thought of church as a place with a lot of rules where I had to sit quietly and listen to words I didn’t understand. When I was old enough to understand the sermon, I loved learning, worshipping corporately, and being challenged in my walk. The church I was raised in is thriving, growing, ministering, and active — not dead (after my 40+ years). I don’t think that my experience is the only way, but I’d like to ask the author of the article to consider the same point. Having a nursery program is not an automatic indicator of a “dead church.”

    • My point wasn’t so much that children should be in the assembly to the neglect of such programs, but that children are the future of the church, so if you don’t hear crying (period), then the church is dying.

  218. It’s a triage issue. Is it worth having an unruly child in a service when it disrupts the ability of someone else to listen? 2 others? 10 others? Why is it more important for the little brat to be there than someone else?

    And this doesn’t even address the issue of “what is the REAL purpose of church anyway?”

    • Funny that you think that a noisy or unruly child is a brat when it could be that they might have a medical condition that causes their crying. Granted, some children are brats and need a good whooping. However, and maybe this was too much for me to assume, I would hope that people would use a balanced/compassionate approach to the topic.

      • The big thing to think about is…what if you had 10 kids crying in the movie theater? What would happen? So then why allow in church or a conference or classroom or anywhere you are trying to learn.

      • But the church isn’t any of those. It’s Christ’s kingdom where a body of believers come together in worship.

      • So where is the compassion from the parents of the unruly child (regardless of the cause of the child causing a disturbance)? THEY are the ones that made the choice to disturb others – not the people who are being disturbed.

      • I’m not disputing your premise. I do prefer that selflessness be taken in our part. Christianity isn’t about always getting what I want.

      • Exactly…more important than any of those & yet if you can’t hear how do you worship? How do you learn? You have to remember Jesus was different. He could have probably “calmed” the children if there were tons of children crying by him. HA! This is not the case here. If you can’t hear, you get nothing out of it. You don’t learn. If this is week after week after week you are not going to get anything out of it and then what is the point. There is a big difference of one baby crying, and a parent taking him to the back like they usually do & then coming back when they calm down. There is a big difference if you have so many that the priest can’t even hear himself talk. You are there for a reason. If the reason is not being fulfilled then you will lose members and most religions already have problems losing members for other reasons.

  219. Great word! Your post addresses an imbalance that exists in church practice – generational separateness. While age-specific ministry is important, current church practice is like a scale tipped to the side of age-segregation while ignoring generational integration. Balance is the key, and incorporating children in “adult” worship is a valuable aspect for younger and older generations. Many years ago, while serving as a children’s pastor, I discovered a great book that emphasizes what you have written: “Parenting in the Pew” by Robbie Castleman.

  220. TYPO alert:

    “The little elderly woman who often fills alone beams”

    …should perhaps say…

    “The little elderly woman who often FEELS alone beams”

    (I’m reading the article and liking it so far, but the editor in me has to stop and help the author.)

  221. Another typo alert:

    “To see young parents and their small children brighten her day”

    Pretty sure the grammar here should be “To see… brightens” not “To see… brighten”

  222. Pingback: If you don’t hear crying, the church is dying… | ENCOURAGE by cornelilioi

  223. Why can’t religious people just be content to believe what they believe? Why do they feel the need to perpetuate their beliefs through a coalition and brainwash their children from infancy? Children should be educated, learn to think critically, and allowed to decide for themselves what they believe or don’t believe. Religion is a disease that is intentionally spread.

    • So when you have children you won’t teach them any values? Furthermore, plenty of people have reached adulthood and left Christianity inasmuch as plenty have reached adulthood and came to faith. Religion doesn’t equate a lack of education or critical thinking, but I will concede that for some it does. However, one apple doesn’t spoil the entire barrel.

    • Why can’t atheists just be content to “unbelieve what they unbelieve”? Why do they feel the need to run around the internet insulting people that have a view or belief they don’t share? Religion is a very generic word. Evolution (I refer to the neo-darwinist, molecules-to-man notion) qualifies as a religion, according to the dictionary definition of the term. The view that “religion is a disease” and no one should “perpetuate their beliefs through a coalition and brainwash their children from infancy” means atheists should not teach evolution to anyone, especially not their own children.

      • I don’t think you have an understanding of evolution sir. The theory of evolution is more solidly proven than the theory of gravity is. I don’t think you would consider gravity a religion. Also, being an atheists does not equate to an acceptance of evolution, but that’s besides the point. To Emm’s point though, I think its abusive to thrust beliefs onto children. I know I will be raising mine to understand the world to the best of current knowledge, and teach them to think critically and decide on their own.

      • On the contrary, I grasp it quite well. (By the way, there is no such thing as a “theory” of gravity. Perhaps you should look up the difference between scientific terms to describe how things are, versus efforts to explain why they are that way.) Evolution does not deserve the status of “theory.” It is a hypothesis only. It’s a notion. It is not “solidly proven.” Evolution is baseless opinion derived largely from one’s worldview instead of actual proof/evidence. Widespread propaganda helps prop it up. Evolution clearly should not be taught in schools, where it is pawned off as though it were fact, instead of a foundation stone in an atheistic religion about their notions of the origins of mankind and the universe.

      • “I don’t think you have an understanding of evolution sir. The theory of evolution is more solidly proven than the theory of gravity is. I don’t think you would consider gravity a religion. Also, being an atheists does not equate to an acceptance of evolution, but that’s besides the point. To Emm’s point though, I think its abusive to thrust beliefs onto children. I know I will be raising mine to understand the world to the best of current knowledge, and teach them to think critically and decide on their own.”

        I find it amusing that this person claims first that it is abusive to thrust beliefs onto children, and in the very next sentence tells how he/she intends to thrust his/her own beliefs (in “current knowledge”) onto his/her children under the guise of teaching critical thinking and deciding on their own. So then, one must wonder what might happen should those very same children decide that their parent’s belief in a lack of deity is insufficient to explain life and the universe and come to believe in any sort of deity. It has been known to happen, even in such high profile cases as Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose own son became a Christian. She openly repudiated him. And atheists think Christians are the ones forcing their beliefs on their children. Hello, pot; meet kettle.

          Krista L. Miller “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

      • Have you ever been to a museum? Nothing about evolution is opinion, it is an explanation of the facts it is built on. Also, I don’t know why kind of bland apologetics your trying to pull, but atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, nothing more, it describes no more about the person beyond that. It is a useless term, but one necessitated by how much religion is in the world today.

      • “Atheism” isn’t even a good word to define what you suggest. “Asymmetrical” means that something is without symmetry but with the possibility of symmetry existing. “Amoral” means without morality but with the possibility of morality. Therefore, “atheist” means “without God,” but…

      • Consider it this way, everyone here is an atheist in some circumstance. Do you believe in Zeus? I doubt that, neither do I. In that context though we are both atheists. In general use, an atheist would be an individual who applies that same lack of belief to all gods. I think the best reference of understanding atheism would be the reddit FAQ page. http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/wiki/faq

      • The earliest Christians were accused by the Roman government of being atheists because they didn’t believe in the pantheon, but they did in fact believe in Jesus as God. Therefore, to say that the definition could apply to a general non-believe negates the logical supposition that the term is based upon the probability of belief. The “a” in Greek — when it begins a word — means “without,” hence “without gods.” However, the same logic that this term negates belief in general would not and cannot be applied to symmetry or morality. Some would try to say that there are no such things as objective moral values, but their actions betray them in their dealing with others and themselves.

        I think it’s safe to say that I may not convince you otherwise, and I’m certain you won’t convince me otherwise, so this discussion is moot.

  224. Museum displays that favor evolution only portray the preset /opinions/ of the artists, designers, and builders of the displays. The same goes for their charts, diagrams, tables, and illustrations. That such is pawned off as “evidence” for evolution is sad, and reveals the opposite of critical thinking.

    Consider some dictionary definitions of religion:

    “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe…”

    (Evolution qualifies.)

    “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group”

    (Again, evolution qualifies.)

    Granted, by some other definitions the distinction between deity worship and atheism is highlighted. Yet the point is that evolutionists (whether theistic or atheistic) have a /believe system/, not proven facts. It is a belief system, nothing more.

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  226. “[Belief in god] is baseless opinion derived largely from one’s worldview instead of actual proof/evidence. Widespread propaganda helps prop it up. [Belief in god] clearly should not be taught in schools, where it is pawned off as though it were fact, instead of a foundation stone in an [insert religion] about their notions of the origins of mankind and the universe.”

    That’s more like it. On the other hand, there is actually a great deal of scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution, but not even a drop to support the belief in any kind of god.

    I certainly do hope to teach my children values, one of them being to think critically for oneself. Religious people frequently equate atheism with lacking values or morality, which goes to show the overwhelming lack of critical thinking. There are many religions and beliefs in this world, and none have a monopoly on morality. Historically, religion has supported some of the most sinister and immoral of behaviors.

    My parents were atheists, but they never taught me to not believe in god. They never even told me what they did or didn’t believe until I got older and started forming my own opinions about the belief in god. But for some reason, religious folks–especially Christians–have this itch to fill their children’s heads with their own beliefs. They say it’s to keep the church alive. Why? Because god is like Tinkerbell. He only exists if you make a lot of noise about him.

    • EMM: Way to go! Insult those who differ from you! So respectful! Your current expression here could be summarized as: “The way my parents raised me is how all parents ought to raise their kids, and anyone who disagrees is small-minded and does not practice critical thinking.” Sad.

      It’s interesting how atheists are all about “critical thinking” until someone actually practices critical thinking and has a different viewpoint. Often their support for critical thinking then goes out the window as they launch into statements intended to shame and intimidate, insulting those with a view and practice different from their own.

    • EMM: “There is actually a great deal of scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution…”

      The hypothesis of evolution is an elegant, hyper-simplified explanation that is utterly without sufficient basis to be considered a workable /theory/. There are facts, and then there are “explanations” of the facts. The explanations are mere beliefs, opinions. Confusing the opinion with the facts is either flawed logic or disingenuous. Some surely know the difference and are knowingly guilty of their guile. Whether innocently wrong or deceptively wrong, it’s still just a notion, and hardly worthy of any serious credence as a “valid” explanation of the facts.

      • Please, state your third party verifiable facts that can withstand the scientific method which prove evolution false? actually, write about them, submit them to an academic journal, you’d probably win a Nobel prize. Evolution could easily be refuted by 1 fossil out of place, but that had never been found or recorded. Every fact points TO evolution. For some weird reason evolution seems to threaten you, it’s nothing but an explanation of organisms changing over time. It does not make claims of how life started, but it can be applied to what we can see about the world.

      • ETDYE6152:

        Writings making this case abound. You seem to either be unaware of them, or you choose to be very selective in your reading. I commend to you writers such as Meyer, Dembski, Johnson, Wells, and others.

        Nevertheless, it’s interesting that you seem want to shift the burden of proof into being a burden of disproof. The onus is upon the proponents of evolution to prove their case. Comparatively simple-minded people in prior centuries were easily misled by writings of the day (Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, etc), back when living cells were believed to be just simple blobs instead of the complex inventions they are now known to be. Nowadays simple-minded folks are easily convinced by nothing more than artists’ renditions and museum displays.

        You mentioned, “Evolution could easily be refuted by [one] fossil out of place, but that had never been found or recorded.”

        Actually, there is not a single transitionary fossil in existence that proves any transition of a creature from one kind to another kind. It is “smoke and mirrors” to claim there is no fossil “out of place” when in actuality there is not a single fossil “in place” that proves the notion of evolution (I refer to the neo-darwinist, molecules-to-man meaning of the word). Minor variations within a kind (often called “speciation”), which were already preprogrammed into the genetic data for the kind, do not prove the neo-darwinist, molecules-to-man version of evolution. Not by a long shot.

        Back when science did not yet know what it now knows, evolution took hold. Now that we know better, it is losing ground. Trying to prove it is so by just saying it is so, should not last long.

  227. Pingback: To You Who Bring Small Children to Church | Chapelwood Parents

  228. Thanks for the post! As a pastor, I love for the folks in my church to think like this… may I have permission to copy the blog and use it as a bulletin insert??? Thanks in advance!

    Roger Fankhauser
    Burleson Bible Church
    Burleson, TX (just outside Ft. Worth)

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  230. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.
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  232. Well because of this post, the families in our church refuse to use the nursery or children’s classes. They keep passing it around like jr high school girls. Like modern Americans, they feel they have THE RIGHT to distract from God’s word. “Christian liberty” allows them to keep their kids and refuse the nursery care. This post is only relevant if there is no childcare provided. But if there is, and parents refuse to use it, shame on them. Satan is using the idea of “our rights” to distract from God’s word every Sunday morning. Satan is thrilled that no one in our congregation can hear the preacher because of the fussing, screaming, talking children. And it’s not newborns that we are talking about. It’s 2-3-4 year old children who are out of control, being raised in a home with no discipline, where they run their homes. It’s disgusting. As a newly married wife, I desire to have no children if this is the example my children will have, bratty, defiant children, and the parents are too concerned about their “feelings” to do anything. I literally cannot hear the Word of God in church because parents refuse to take out their children when they become noisy and distracting. I wish someone could explain to me how that’s not a problem. We have gifted teachers who want to have the kids in class, but apparently all children these days have “separation issues” (aka DEFIANCE). It’s interesting because when I was growing up in church, kids weren’t allowed to have separation issues. We went to class, crying or not, because our parents were considerate of the congregation hearing God’s word. I would like to think that the writer of this post, would agree that children making noise over the pastor is inappropriate, but the writer is certainly doing tons of damage in our ministry. All of our young moms think this applies to them, but in reality, they aren’t ALWAYS there, they aren’t serving, they aren’t involved. They come for one hour most Sundays, and take and take, and all they give in return is bratty children whose noise covers up the Word of God. I’m so disgusted with modern parents. These kids have no hope because they are being taught that the world revolves around. And it takes an ounce of maturity to realize that that’s not true, and it’s certainly not in the Bible.

    • This is the author writing to you. Of course I would agree that good judgment should be used, and this article in no way is intended to endorse not rearing children with discipline. However, this post was originally a bulletin article that I wrote where I served. Given its context, we had a lot of mothers who were hyper-sensitive to the least-little whimper that their child made. I’m not talking about loud noises or all-out balling, but little whimpers. These mothers felt as if all of the eyes were on them and that they were being disruptive, so I wrote this to encourage them. Some mothers also have special needs children who make noises because of their condition(s). These sorts of folks need encouragement. But, I did not intend and would never say that parents shouldn’t discipline their children. The fault isn’t with this article, but how others have interpreted it. As you can see, I quote at will Bible verses for what I have to say in this post. Therefore, you can assume that I read the Bible and am familiar with it. There are several passages in Proverbs that speak about the wisdom of disciplining children too. I don’t qualify everything that I write as if I’m a politician. Nor do I care who is offended by what I write. If anything, you should have your minister use this article to address the truths in it, and then offer a lesson on biblical discipline too. I, like you, do not believe that the world should revolve around children and they shouldn’t dictate everything. But, for the mothers who are so hyper-sensitive to their child’s whimper that they feel guilty for any disruption, this was for them…to encourage them. Moreover, I’d rather have a mother bring her unruly children to worship than to not come at all. Some of these things can be handled in time, but I’d rather have a saved soul than one that’s lost. My views, my perspective. Agree or disagree. That’s fine.

  233. Pingback: To You Who Bring Small Children to Church | elliotojohnson's Blog

  234. I always tell parents of young children to sit in the front pew. They will be more engaged because they are able to see and hear what’s going on instead of just standing or sitting in a little canyon where all they can see is mom or dad and the ceiling above their head. Of course they’re bored and restless. Moving them to the front pew does wonders for their attitude most of the time.

  235. Pingback: If you don’t hear crying, the church is dying | Pastor Jake's Blog

  236. I have to say I disagree with this. A parent has to miss out on the service here and there for a few months while raising and training a child to behave in a service. There are almost always nurseries to use. The rest of the congregation has to listen to every kid all the time and be distracted. It’s kindness and respect to the rest of the congregation to take a noisy baby or toddler out of the service.

    If you wouldn’t take them into a movie, then why is it okay for church?

    Also, when Jesus had the babies coming to Him, it was an entirely different setting. He was outside healing and blessing, not preaching to a congregation. Children under the age of 13 weren’t allowed into what we consider a “church” setting. 13!!! At least we let ours in to hear services before then. But train them to handle the service quietly and respectfully. There is plenty of fun in Sunday School, VBS, and children’s church.

    One hour of meditative respect for a service is not a burden that will scare off those who are truly seeking God.

  237. Do you have permission to use the photo used in this article? I am not aware that you do as I t is one that I have taken and I would like a credit on your site. Please contact me.

  238. I’d be really grateful if you’d credit me for using one of my photos without permission. The girl in the photo is a family friend and I request that you credit me for using it as you have downloaded from another site that has permission.

    Please contact me on ben.mizen@gmail.com

    • I’ve included your name for credit. If you’d like me to add anything else, let me know. Please accept my apology for the ignorance of such etiquette.

      Kindly,
      Steven

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