Thoughts from a recovering worship leader
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Kids in worship

January 23rd, 2012 | Posted by jamie in Thoughts

This post might get me into a little trouble.

I shared this blog before and how I so agreed with it. Except for one thing. The whole fussy kid thing.

I actually applaud a church that won’t hesitate to ask disruptive children to leave.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kids, but I also love being able to go to church and listen to the sermon without distraction. It seems like parents with really rowdy kids always seem to pick the seat next to or behind me.

Let me share a story.

In one church I attended, there were a couple of comfy couches in the back. One morning my husband and I noticed they were open, so we grabbed one. A few minutes later, two very rowdy little boys sat on the other couch next to us. I’m not talking whispering or fidgeting… I’m talking throwing pillows at each other and screaming into cushions and laughing loudly and running in circles. Then I realized mom and dad were sitting about four rows in front of them. NOT COOL. We ended up getting up and moving to the overflow room. It was that bad. I left church that day (Easter no less) feeling angry and frustrated. I wished that there had been some church bouncer that would have made the kids (and parents) move to the overflow room rather than my husband and I having to. I honestly remember nothing else from that service.

This is why I applaud a church that will escort rowdy children out. It’s hard to worship and be “all there” when all I can think about (or hear) is some loud child near me. Especially when they should know better.

Before you judge me, a childless woman of almost 33, please don’t. I have “mothered” much over the years. Call me a “mother of the heart.” I spent three years working with the African Children’s Choir and learned much about parenting, discipline, and the capability of children to behave. Don’t let them fool you. They are capable of much more than you might think.

It’s not that I want to deny kids the chance to worship, but for most of them (especially if they’re only three or four), it’s unfair to ask them to sit through something that’s way out of their attention span. In a church I used to attend, children sat with parents for the worship time, and then went to the front for a brief children’s sermon. After that, they left the sanctuary to go to a more kid’s oriented church time. It was the best of both worlds. They got to be with Mom and Dad for worship time, and I didn’t have to sit gritting my teeth while rowdy children kicked the back of my chair throughout the sermon.

I understand some families want to worship together, and for some, that includes the sermon. Fine. If that’s the case, teach your child to sit still. Sure, there are some extreme cases, like the boy in the blog that has cerebral palsy, but for the most part, children are completely capable of sitting still and being quiet. I think most parents don’t hold their kids to a high enough standard.

It makes me angry when parents think their kid’s “aren’t that bad,” or let their babies cry for minutes on end without making a move to exit the sanctuary. Just because you’ve grown immune to the sound of the cry does not mean the other 200 people in the building have too. Please be considerate of those around you.

While we’re on the subject, this is my favorite video involving kids in worship.

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  • http://www.whomademeanexpert.com Marcus Smith

    I have a 4 year old boy. Our church has a rule where children older than 3 can’t stay in the nursery during church service. Luckily, my wife is the nursery worker, so I get away with it (especially since I usually have some function to perform during services). However, it is bad on her because he’s too rowdy to be back there with all of the little kids. I’ve tried to bring him to Sunday night services with me, but then I can’t pay attention to the sermon. I think there is an age where kids don’t quite fit anywhere in Church.

    I’ve seen the video you posted here. That’s awesome that big mega churches have places for kids to go during worship time, but I’d imagine that there are a lot of Churches that don’t. This past weekend some of the ladies and youth girls had Kid’s church for kids in that very age group (4 years-1st grade). I hope it catches on. From the sounds of it, my son had fun, my wife could do her job, and I could worship/listen.

    Now, if the church has a place for kids to go during service, and people are still bringing their kids in – that’s messed up. A 4-year old’s attention span is about half a centimeter long. Angry birds can only keep them occupied for so long…

    • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

      There are some churches that don’t have adequate nursery staff or sufficient children’s program, and I get that. I have grace for the younger kids because they’re still learning. But many of my encounters have been with like 8-12 year olds who really have no excuse. And yes, in every one of my encounters, there has been some kid’s program going on that they could be in. I just don’t get that.

      It makes sense to have that nursery rule. You can’t expect the few people working in the nursery to handle EVERYONE’S kid when they have infants and toddlers to attend to. It does leave parents in a tough predicament though.