All right, I’ll just stick my oar in the water and do a little splashing:
Spare me from a church sanctuary which is sanitized of all noise (welcome and unwelcome) from children under the age of eight, from a reader board with numbers flashing to inform a mom that her child (# 241) is pitching a fit. The thought makes me shudder.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.”
I think other cultures have so much to teach Americans. We tend to get prissy about anything that we can’t control, and it is evident that a newborn baby sits squarely in that category. It is time to relax. Smile. Take a breath. Refrain from turning around and glaring. Find ways to encourage young parents. Enjoy their babies.
It is Babyville at our church. On Sunday I held two newborn girls, Summer and Mercy; the only reason it wasn’t three was because Abigail was sound asleep. Our small church (~ 100 regulars) is bursting with babies and toddlers. And we love ’em. Come and welcome. We have a room to the side for crying babies, but they usually start the service with us. Moms and Dads have help from singles and stand-in grandmas. There is no doubt that it takes work to train a child to sit quietly. But the paybacks are sweet. Sweet and glorious.
Addendum: Nancy Wilson, this week, on the same subject.
Oh, such a can of worms you are opening! The main problem is that the new moms who should take their babies out don’t; and the ones with the quiet gurglers and coo-ers jump up at the slightest little noise and take them out. What about the mother who let her toddler run up and down the aisles, talking to everyone loudly as she walked by, while the mother was beaming at her “cuteness” on Mother’s Day this year? I tend to be distracted easily, and do like the coo’s, but the LOUD outbursts are what really bother me. My church has no taboos, and fortunately most of the time, an older woman will take a loud baby out and let the mother stay and listen to the sermon. That’s when it really works the best, I think.
We actually changed churches for that very reason….even while sitting in the balcony, close to an exit, another congregant said our toddler was distracting him :(Nevertheless, I’m with LimboLady, there are some guidelines for behavior and even babies *understand* when it’s time to be quiet and sit still.No *children’s church* for us.Wait, are you preparing for two new grandbabies yourself…within the calendar year?
I love to hear the small sounds, too- and when small sounds distract, I remember that I need training in how to worship in spite of distractions! (Else I would need to ask the older gentleman snoring behind me to leave with the babies!)As a new mom, we were abundantly blessed by folks coming up before the service and asking to hold #1 for the duration. What a nice break for a new mom!You hit the nail on the head: “They are the sounds of life.”
It’s funny, but those sounds distracted me quite a lot before I became a mother myself. I think parenthood brings your level of noise tolerance up. That being said, we have opted to have the children in our worship service because we think it is important for families to be together in worship and for children to SEE their parents at worship. Our leaders are trained to assist and gently guide those who have unruly children; it is a delicate thing. People can get offended over this so easily but you do want the other congregants to be able to focus. But you are right, the little coos are happy life sounds and I think Jesus smiles to hear them, too.
A story… we grew up in a “not allowed to make any noise” – church environment. My father was the minister. He came home one evening – for months he struggled with a couple: their relationship, coming to church, getting to know the Lord. And then one evening they came – with their baby. The baby was an active participant in the service. Nobody was sent out. From there on we all (incl my dad) looked with new eyes to parents with babies, and wondered…
You’re so blessed to have so many babies in your congregation!
Now that is what I call church growth. Congratulations. Encouraging good parenting goes with it. From a pastor’s wife perspective (with a gaggle of her own) there were times when I knew the Spirit was trying to say something special and a baby would start to be a baby, but momma would not know to be a momma and take baby to the outer reaches so as not to distract. I knew the terrible struggle that was going on at that stage. But wow am I with you re: the parent #241 flashing sign. I am so glad you got to hold the babies. Your church is one of the best any where. I know! I miss you all. Blessings and love in SC
I could not agree with you MORE! It is so delightful to have little ones in church, not just for their sounds and sweetness but because it means that parents are bringing their children up in the Lord, teaching them to worship and fellowship. In my opinion that is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic! You just go ahead and open as many worm cans as you like! I remember our Pastors young family all lined up in the front pew, the older ones holding the younger ones while Mom played piano for the service, the baggies of Cheerios used to hold their attention during longer, less stimulating moments. (I don’t want to say boring but to a 3 year old, the sermon can be.) And my children, sitting with them, helping the only daughter with her 5 little brothers. I miss that! This past Sunday, we had a young family visiting from California, up to see Grandma and Grandpa, they all came to church and they sat right behind the organ. I could hear all the little sounds, the whispering conversation, the louder discussions during singing, it was all sweet, and I’ve missed that! I had to STOP myself from laughing when I overheard older sister telling younger brother that he had to put his quarter in the collection plate because that was Jesus’ quarter and “he needs it more that you do!” God bless the little children!
So glad you enjoyed Mercy! We hope to be back in Babyville soon.
Amen!! Yes it can be distracting. It is hard to think of others all the time. There are the extremes from running around to not being allowed in the service. It is an important issue. It’s our children we’re talking about after all! :0) If we could consistently exercise love- love is patient, love is kind- things would of course consistently go smoothly! But there is a spiritual battle going on in worship, so we know that if Satan can get a foothold anywhere he’ll grab it. So, we battle back by prayer and service- by helping anyway we can. I really wish I were personally more observant!!
Raising children to love the Lord and the church is a wonderful challenge with many different Biblical ways to go about it. Children’s church or a children’s ministry that takes place during the sermon/preaching portion of the service can be a great blessing and tool to a young child, while freeing a parent to remain undistracted to hear the Word being shared.Many churches do take such children’s ministries very seriously, carefully selecting teachers/helpers, reviewing all materials that will be taught, and holding the children to ‘classroom’ manners, so that all the children will be able to hear and respond to their teachers. Children’s ministry is not just ‘playtime’ with play-dough and dancing to music. Some teachers assign homework or projects to complete during the week, others have memorization quizes, or regular times to share together prayers or answers to prayers. What a joy for parents to hear their young child praying for his friends! Parents are faithful to engage the children in what they have heard or participated in, bringing clarification where needed.Much can be gained from a controlled environment of children interacting together, to see and learn the truth and glories of the Lord. This takes much preparation and committment on the part of the church body as a whole, where many will devote themselves to teaching or helping once a month, or to larger administration tasks. It has been a wonderful way for our church body to further express their giftings in working with and teaching children, and learning to selflessly serve even the youngest among us.
One of my favorite Orthodox writers called the sounds of children in church “Holy noise”. We’re blessed to have Babyville at our parish too.