Encouragement for Moms · Family Life

Children Do Not Belong In Church…Or Do They? – Part 1

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Over the past few years, we have been searching for a church home.  We faithfully attended church until about four years ago.  That church endured a split.  At that time we just felt like neither group was really headed in the right direction, so we decided to take a step back to reevaluate where our family should worship.  That is another story entirely.

During the past four years we have visited churches.  Many churches.   For about six months we faithfully attended First Baptist Church Atlanta.  This church is over one hour from our home, but we enjoyed listening to Dr. Charles Stanley preach, so we went.

My husband and I differed slightly in our church “preference” in the past.  This hasn’t mattered too much to me since my husband is our spiritual leader.  Where he goes, I will follow.  Even when it’s difficult.  (And believe me, it has been difficult at times!)  We do however agree on basics.  We firmly believe that God does not wish for families to be separated during worship and teaching, and we believe that the focus should be on what we can do for God instead of what God can do for us.  Finding a church that teaches and lives these principles shouldn’t be so difficult, right?

About one and a half years ago we visited a church that came highly recommended.  This church broadcasts their sermons on the radio.  My husband listened in on several occasions and thought that we should give it a try.  We arrived one Sunday morning, and everyone was very welcoming.  We found a spot and a nice older lady immediately came over to speak to us.  The conversation went something like this…

Friendly church member: “Hello, welcome to our church!  Here, let me show you the way to the nursery.”

Myself: “Thanks so much, but we would rather keep him with us.” (Referring to our then 18 month old son.)

Friendly church member: “It’s a great nursery!  Come on, let’s go!”

Myself: “No really, we would like to keep him with us.”

Friendly church member: “The nursery is wonderful, and look, the door is practically off the sanctuary.”

Myself: “I’m really sorry, but we would like to keep our baby with us.

Rapidly becoming not so friendly church member: “If you keep him in here, you will need to remove yourself and the baby during the invitation.  We cannot have any distractions!!  By the way, I’m the middle school girls Sunday School teacher, I’d love to have your older girls next Sunday!” Said church member then walked away.

Unfortunately, we have had many similar experiences throughout the past few years.  I’ve had to apologize for keeping my baby in my care instead of sending them away with a stranger.  There are actually several prominent churches in our areas that at times “rate” their Sunday morning services as “PG-13.”  I may be way off here, but I’m assuming that at these times children aren’t exactly welcome in the sanctuary. 

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A few questions.

Should churches view children as a distraction? 

Should church be a place where family members are forced to go their own separate directions instead of being together?

Is this biblical?

To be continued…

To view Part 2 of this series, click here!

*On a side note, our family has been visiting a wonderful, Biblical church for a month now.  Praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow!*

 

46 thoughts on “Children Do Not Belong In Church…Or Do They? – Part 1

  1. When my husband and I were first married, we had a hard time finding a church that was truly welcoming to children. The church we attended when we lived in California seemed to want children to be absolutely quiet during the service. With an infant, that was challenging.

    Now in Nebraska, we have found a wonderful church that is so welcoming to our 8-month-old daughter. The first Sunday we attended we were told where the children’s programs were located, but it was immediately followed by a reassurance that it was perfectly fine to keep our daughter with us. That was one of the reasons I was really drawn to this particular church.

    In our current church, some children attend children’s church or nursery while others stay in the service. If our daughter makes baby noises, it doesn’t bother anybody. It’s such a blessing to me that our entire family is welcome in the worship service.

    Aside from doctrinal soundness, the next important factor to me in looking for a church is whether or not it is welcoming to our entire family.

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    1. This is how I believe it should be in all churches. The children’s church (we call it “junior church”) and nursery might be important for some parents while others may feel just as strongly that children should be in the sanctuary. Allowing parents to choose for themselves and being respectful of the decision is how we can be most welcoming as a church. At our church, we do not have Sunday school or junior church in July in order to give the workers a break and allow them to take guilt-free vacations with their families if they choose to do so. I also feel this has the added benefit of forcing those who may need reminding that families are important to accept the children in the sanctuary, and hopefully such people do not show annoyance when a baby cries or a child announces hunger or a need to use the restroom in a much louder voice than necessary. We do have a nursery open, and in July it accepts children through age three since there is no other place for toddlers to go. In the sanctuary, some of the teenagers sit with their parents and others sit with their friends. Our family takes up two pews and we all like to sit together. This creates another issue of saving seats without making visitors to the church feel as if they are not welcome to sit, so sometimes our two pews becomes three as we try to sit as close together as possible without being rude to others.

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  2. Very interested to see the rest of this series. Children belong where parents choose to bring them, period. They should not be made to feel unwelcome because someone prefers not to look at a child sitting in a pew or hear an occasional coo. If God can create an entire universe, die and come back to life, confuse language in thousands of people, part a sea and then bring it back down at the exact moment He desires, and create a virgin birth, He can speak to someone’s heart even if a baby coos or a child is sitting in a pew next to them.

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  3. Amen! Agree completely. When we started not sending our kids to nursery/Sunday school, we became inundated with weird looks and lots and lots of HINTS. Very tiresome. We eventually switched to a family-integrated church that does not have nursery at all, and it’s been awesome. Yes, church is much louder, but families are worshiping TOGETHER instead of the age-segregated model which is currently turning out something like an 80-90% failure rate (i.e. kids leaving the church by the time they hit college). It really makes sense to me! For books on the subject, try “Family-Driven Faith” and “A Weed in the Church.” Thanks for getting the word out there!

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    1. As I said in another comment above, I believe churches are most welcoming to people from all walks of life when they offer parents the choice of whether or not their children should be in the service and support the decision either way. However, personally I agree with you that children should be in the sanctuary even when they get a little fussy. Temper tantrums may require them to be removed to the hall until they calm down, but taking them to the nursery or children’s church to play because you cannot put up with them rewards such behavior. Attention span and maturity develop through condition. They do not magically appear when a child enters sixth grade or whenever a given church decides they are old enough for big church. We cannot expect our children to enjoy worship and be able to absorb and appreciate the sermon as adults if they have never been conditioned to do so, and this will likely result in their leaving the church or even resenting their parents for ever having taken them there.

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  4. Been there, done that!! Had the same conversations with ‘Friendly Church Members” over the years. We raised seven children in church and finally found a family friendly church that we enjoy. I look forward to reading your continuation of this post theme. I hope you link it up (also) over at WholeHearted Home. Thanks for linking.

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  5. I’m sorry, I forgot what I was doing (that’s comes from being a mom!!) and I should have said that I followed your link from Nan’s linkup (mom’s the word) because she linked up over at WholeHearted Home and not you 😦 sadly . . . but you are welcomed to join her and other bloggers this coming Wednesday for WholeHearted Wednesdays.

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  6. Great post! Our church is so welcoming and doesn’t even have a full time nursery. I love that! We do have a childrens church for kids 3-12 one night a week but noone thinks twice if a child doesn’t go. My thoughts are that if a child isn’t in church how will they one day be able to BE the church? They will never learn to worship or really listen to what is going on if they are constantly entertained somewhere else. Look forward to the rest of the series!

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  7. We visited a church that put on the front of the bulletin they do not want children in the worship center. They leave at birth and rejoin the main worship center sometime after college as the church has separate programs through college. I loved having time together with my family in church. Sweet memories and a ton of questions on Sunday after the services from me. I wiggled, colored, doodled etc but I learned through passive listening not looking at the backs of adult heads. I always knew acting up in church was a quick way to a spanking so there was a limit to my mischief. As an adult I’ve seen it both ways – a family together and all is well and the family that ignores world war three going on in the pew beside them. Children belong in the care of responsible parents – that’s the challenge – responsible, teaching, caring, engaged parents. We are searching for a church home as well. We for the past three months have been visiting a great bible teaching church. Last week we discovered our nine year old has been bullied in his Sunday school class each week. He has been hit, threatened and harassed. My child is afraid of church now. We visited another church earlier in the year and a boy in our sons class kept making vulgar comments about naked people. It was clear that someone in his home exposed him to porn. He was bringing the vulgarity right into the Sunday school class. I believe we all need our children by our sides in church for a multitude of reasons.

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    1. Oh my, we would have left the minute we saw that bulletin! Searching for a church home can be so difficult. We have thankfully been lead to a church that doesn’t have the option for families to be separated. Blessings to you and your family!

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    2. I would have reversed course very quickly had I ever read that in a bulletin!

      Our Baptist church LOVES the children being part of worship. They are free to dance up front with the other children. They can dance in the pew with their family. They can dance in the aisle. How else can a child see the church family worshipping? Corporate worship is more than singing, it is REJOICING. And children rejoicing with laughter must be a beautiful sound to God.
      When Junior church time rolls around, the children are INVITED to participate, not informed they are participating. It is a family’s choice whether their child participates in the Junior church or the main service in the sanctuary.

      I’ve been in churches that seem child friendly (as in have a plethora of programs for children, great child workers, etc), but as soon as a new momma tries to soothe a baby by breast-feeding in the sanctuary? Oh wow! Not pretty. Not pretty at all. Yet I’ve also been to another church that had an announcement in the bulletin that children remain in the sanctuary for all but diaper changes. And that the church did NOT provide a special area for mommas to breastfeed, as that was part of corporate worship. They didn’t even get fidgety when some mommas don’t use a blanket to cover up.

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  8. “Child nursery” is a concept that has always eluded me. In Catholic churches (or at least the parishes I’ve ever been part of/known people part of), there is no nursery program. Some (not all) churches have a “cry room” for toddlers and young preschoolers, but you’re still part of the Mass. I guess in some ways having a separate program allows you to have something that engages the children, but it doesn’t make sense to me to say to a child “You’re not welcome here,” and then wonder why s/he doesn’t stick around as an adult.

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  9. As a minister’s wife and mother of 4, I can assure you that you are not alone. Our church does have a nursery and offers a time just before the message when children may opt to attend a “children’s church” geared to their age. That runs through 2nd grade. After that all children are in the sanctuary.
    We offer this ministry because many families want their children to have these options. We never require or pressure anyone to place their children in the nursery. My own grandchildren stayed in the sanctuary until they were older infants. Then their parents decided to send them to the nursery since they do age related worship activities there…like singing, Bible stories and crafts. And my daughter and son-in-law wanted to worship and be able to receive the message.
    I have been in churches that pressure people to put their children in the nursery but that is not a good approach. It should be the family’s choice.
    Our church sanctuary as a “cry room” in the balcony. It is a glass, sound proof booth where parents can hear the message but babies distressed cries are not heard. I have seen the room used a few times when a little one gets to screaming but otherwise, we love the sounds of whines and coos and squeals. My husband says he is so focused, he never hears a thing.
    Whatever way you want to worship, then that should be your choice.

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  10. We have a lot of kids at our church who don’t come with their parents 😦 That’s what children’s church was originally designed for anyway “bus kids.” 20 kids in the sanctuary not sitting by their parents is a very difficult thing, and when they’re not learning about God at home they do need lessons geared toward their level. With that being said, I’m trying to wean my children away from the nursery/Jr. Church, It’s hard though because I’m the song leader and I work with children’s church. I’m seriously considering stepping down from these positions so that we can train our children to sit in church. Either that or work on Sunday nights sitting in church with the kids.

    Sorry if I’m rambling, but I definitely think this is an area where no side should get too legalistic. Babies will cry, toddlers will throw tantrums, parents will need to excuse themselves. Proper training can begin. I grew up in Junior Church Sunday Mornings and sitting with my parents Sunday Nights. Maybe it’s because we went to both services that I didn’t turn out too badly 🙂

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  11. I wrote a lengthy comment then it vanished 😛

    Here’s how I see it. Jr. Church is necessary for churches who bring in kids without parents. It was originally designed for bus ministry purposes. Kids who don’t learn about God at home definitely need age appropriate lessons, and it’s next to impossible to monitor 20+ kids in the pews if their parents aren’t there.

    With that being said, our church has Jr. church and there are kids who attend and kids who stay with their parents. We also have a cry room, that for nursing mothers is necessary and a huge blessing.

    I grew up going to church sitting in Jr. Church Sunday morning (my parents were the Jr. Church teachers and all of our churches had bus ministries) and sitting with my parents Sunday night. We see a lot of salvations in Jr. Church so that’s a good thing. What’s not a good thing though is kids who never feel a part of the worship service. All kids however sit in service once they reach 5th grade, even the bus kids.

    I think this is an area where no one should get too legalistic, and honestly it’s an area I struggle with as well. Looking forward to the series.

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  12. love this series. Hopeful you might touch on special needs. I wonder how many people see that child in church who speaks to their mom a little loud b/c they are autistic, or a child w/ a tic who belts out something during service. No one sees them there?? i wonder why.. hmm… (we have not found a church that will work for us as a family. Regrettably, we stopped trying.)

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    1. I have two of those children. It’s so hard. We are keeping them in church with us more and more but we have had the looks, even in our accepting church. I admit, we didn’t go to church for a long time because of this. I will also admit, we stay home often if we aren’t having a perfect Sunday because of this. A majority of families with a child on the spectrum do no attend church for this very reason. Honestly, and this is well documented, churches are some of the least accepting places for children with Autism. We have GOT to start working on that.

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  13. I like the idea that it’s for kids who don’t have parents to help them sit through services. However, it’s not even necessary then. All you need is a loving team (not even a big team, just two people each week) to sit with these sweet children in worship service to tend to their questions, needs, etc. Having those people (since they already exist as they work with the children’s church each week) would minister to these kids in other ways as well (seeing someone love them in such a way would speak volumes) and would save the church a lot of money they could then use to reach out to those families outside of church (as the kids would still be ministered to through the worship service, so you wouldn’t be paying for duplicate education/teaching).

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  14. I can certainly see your point of view. At our church we do have a nursery available as needed for all services and during the Sunday morning service we have a class for children 4-8 years old.

    When visitors come we let them know the nursery is available and that the class is available but we are sure to say if you are more comfortable with your child staying with you, it is NOT mandatory that the children go to nursery or the children’s class.

    Now with all THAT being said…I have three kids of my own and they have been in church since the first service after they left the hospital from being born. There have been times that they have been a distraction. A coo is one thing, but a baby screaming it’s head off is something else entirely. If a parent isn’t comfortable leaving the child with someone else (and I DO understand that too) then a parent should take the child to another room until they can be calmed down.

    Even now there have been times that my kids wiggle and squirm and when we leave I think what in the world did the preacher even preach on, because I was so distracted with them I couldn’t pay attention.

    If the child is keeping the Word of God from being heard and honored and glorified as it should be during the service then the child should be taken out of the service.

    To address the “failure rate” that someone mentioned, from what I’ve witnessed that has a lot more to do with families only living Godly on Sunday than I think it does with children going to the nursery or a class (not ALL families are ONLY Godly on Sunday, but there sure are a lot of them).

    I had a child once ask me “are you all church all the time?” I asked for clarification and basically she wanted to know if what I said and did on Sunday carried over in the rest of my life. I told her yes, I try to do the best I can for the Lord everyday, not just when I’m at the church. She said, Oh, because my mom doesn’t. She was seeing totally different lifestyle at home. Her late teen to young adult life has not been ideal to say the least.

    So basically, if your child is relatively quiet and well behaved and you would rather keep them in the service I see no problem with that, but if they start to get loud or unruly I think a parent should remove them from the service, even if it is only temporary to calm them down or remind an older child the proper way to behave. They do need to learn how to sit in church quietly and be still and the best way to do that is for them to be in the service.

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  15. This is so sad! We have always kept our children with us in the sanctuary, our pastor often stated that if he couldn’t preach louder than a baby could cry then something was wrong….I do think it’s polite to take your children out when they are crying so as not to be a distraction, but just to assume any child will definitely be a distraction just because they are a child is wrong! Our church separates into separate, groups of similar ages and same genders for Sunday School hour, which I believe to be a good thing. my husband is a preacher and preaches out from our home church alot, when our children were smaller I never let them be taken alone, I always kept them together and if you got them you got their mom too, It’s my belief that you cannot be too careful with your children and I haven’t trusted many people with their “religious” education….that’s my job and I appreciate your struggle, wanting to do right for your kids!! So glad that you have found a church home!! That is a special blessing!!!

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  16. I was just thinking about this the other day. We do not have a children’s church. There is a nursery for moms to take their babies to when they are fussy, and the sermon is broadcasted in there for them. But on the whole, the children are required to sit with their parents the full 2 hour service. I was watching the parents with their children one Sunday and something occurred to me.
    Having the children sit there, and teaching them to be quiet like that, is teaching them self-denial. In a world were kids are used to getting what they want when they want it; I found it refreshing to see these kids learn to deny self even for a couple hours.

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  17. We love our current church, though the “rules” regarding children bother me. I don’t mind taking our children to nursery, but the times that there hasn’t been any childcare available and we have to bring them into the service we have been yelled at if they get fussy and restless. It is a charismatic church where it is not uncommon for adults to dance, yell, speak in tongues, or do other things…but a fussy baby is a nuisance? This is something that I can’t quite wrap my head around, and it has made it so that there are certain things, like revival that I dread because we “can’t go”. I don’t think that it is the design of church to alienate those whose families are just beginning, while catering to those who have no children or theirs have been grown for a while.

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  18. Nicole,

    I never had children but if I did, I would want them there with me in the church pews. Children are our future and they need to be introduced to the Lord from the start. I would hope that churches remember what Jesus told His apostles about children.

    You did a lovely job writing this post as you do on all of your posts.

    Blessings!

    Sue

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  19. Oh how grateful I am for a church that welcomes ENTIRE families in their services! Our family and those of our friends who attend, teach our children from the time they are born how to “play church” so to speak–using whisper voices, sitting quietly, even taking naps or notes (depending on age)–and so disruptions are few and far between. We have families with LOTS of children all lined up in the pews sitting quietly. Lifting their little voices in praise during hymns. I love to hear them…we have a mother’s room when little ones can be taken if need be. And a downstairs room with hookups for video and sound if a larger family is concerned with how “loud” they might be. We have regular Sabbath school for the K-6th graders and a monthly Bible study for the 7th-12th.

    This is the way I’ve experienced my whole life–always including the family. I can’t imagine churches that don’t do the same…that is very sad to me.

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  20. Our small church has Sunday School and Junior Church. The Junior church is mostly for bus kids. We also have Youth Church for the bus ministry teens. We try to bring them into the main worship service once a month or so to “ease” them into it. Children are also welcome in the main service. Our pastor is always happy to hear a new baby.
    My child goes to Sunday School and Junior Church, but has to sit with the adults every Sunday night, Wednesday night, and revivals. I think that makes all the difference. It would not be good to always have the family separated. I can also understand parents hesitations if they did not grow up in a particular church, to leave their children in the care of strangers. On a related note, people in our church also tend to think that we should send our children to the Christian Day School, but we’ve decided to home school. I just don’t feel comfortable sending my children away every day for 13 years to be taught by someone else. It seems like such a loss of time with your kids!

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  21. Our family recently changed from a large church, one whose main focus was on gaining new members, to a smaller church whose focus is to bring forth the Word of God, and all that comes with it. The are MANY families with many children and children are truly seen as blessing. In our old church, you were expected to have your kids in “programs” from the get go-infant through high school. Our new church welcomes children at all times, however they do offer nursery care, toddler Sunday school where they play, sing & read Bible stories and ages 3-7ish can attend Children’s church where they are expected to sit and listen to the Bible teaching. After the Word, they have discussion and then can play with other kids until the service is over. This is not mandated by any stretch, and for us it has been a blessing–our kids are with us worshipping, and see adults raising Holy Hands, praising our Lord and then have the option to go to Children’s church to learn & fellowship. I can see benefit both ways-I know my kids love going to Children’s church and are eager to tell us what they have learned. In a couple of years they will be sitting with us through the whole service (they still do sometimes now as well.) The only problem I have with either way is if children are looked down upon, and are not welcome in “adult church” and also, if parents rely on Sunday School to teach their kids about Jesus & the Bible (which I think happens so often).

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  22. This has been on my mind a lot, lately. The church we go to is very welcoming of children in the service, though we do have a Children’s Church program. That said, my husband’s family also go there; they are all (parents, sister and husband) missionaries through a US mission, in children’s and youth ministries. My sister-in-law recently told me that she thought it was really really important for all children to be in Children’s Church, as they are not mature enough to understand adult sermons until they are around 10 or 12 years old, and by keeping them in the service, we are teaching them to be quiet, but also to see church as a boring couple of hours that don’t mean anything to them, and that by the time they are old enough to start to understand the sermon, they’ve totally tuned out. I grew up doing a mixture of Children’s Church and sitting in the service, and I honestly remember nothing from either source, even though I was raised by a mother who did an excellent job instilling Christian beliefs and behavior in me. So I really don’t know what I think about this issue! I definitely agree that it should be the parents choice, and that churches ought to welcome children completely, but I don’t know what to think about the issues that my SIL raised. Right now, I do take my daughter to the nursery, if she can’t be quiet enough to stay in the service (she’s 14 months old, and recently learned how to walk and to climb off of things, so she can quickly become very disruptive), but I really do not like leaving her down there, and 95% of the time will stay in the nursery with her (even though our church has a policy that only nursery workers may stay in the nursery – because there are a LOT of kids, and not a lot of room for adults). I make an exception to this when my SIL or a certain close friend are on nursery duty, as I trust them to respond to her the way that I would want them to respond, and to come get me if she becomes distressed or disobedient. My preference would be that our church offered the set up that a church we attended when I was a little girl offered: They had a room at the back of the sanctuary that had sound proof glass windows from the knees to the ceiling – it was heavily carpeted, had several rocking chairs and arm chairs, and a library of Christian board books and stuffed animals. Moms (or dads, etc) could take their babies or young children back there as needed, and still be able to hear and see everything going on in the service!! I would LOVE to have that option. The closest we can get, right now, is to sit in the foyer (they leave the doors open, and there are chairs available), but that still leaves loud kids access to congregants’ ears, and there are 2 sets of stairs to tempt them, too, so it’s not a great option. Some of the other moms and I have discussed asking our church to put in a television and closed circuit feed down in our cry room – we already have sound, but it’s so hard to follow along if you can’t SEE the pastor, and anything beyond audio is lost. Our thought was that this option would make the service accessible to moms who have to leave the service for whatever reason, and allow us an option besides a) ditch our kids or b) ditch the sermon.

    Anyway, that was long, sorry!

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  23. This is an interesting topic for me. My husband is a Pastor and we have struggled with this decision. We love the idea of family integrated church – but it is not always practical in small churches. As KM Logan shared, we have children come without their parents. Also – we actually tried “family church” and failed miserably. The problem for us came because my husband is the Pastor and I play the piano each Sunday – thus neither of us is available to sit with our children. And with 3 children under the age of 5, it was a stress EVERY Sunday. I started to dread Sundays because it was so stressful and many Sundays I would send my older two with my parents to their church – which I hated because I wanted us to be in church together. Unfortunately for us, no one in the church would help with our children (mostly elderly women – and yes, very sad that no one would help!)…It is partly just a season that we were in – and we are actually starting at a new church in a week. This church does provide nursery and children’s programs which I am thankful for. However, I will always keep my young babies with me in the service and I would never force my children to go if they did not want to. We will always welcome children in our services. I think there can be a healthy balance – hopefully 🙂

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  24. I am a pastor’s wife and I have had the EXACT conversation with people in churches my husband has pastored. He faithfully stood by our convictions and at times we did use the nursery when our girls were young, but it was always by my choice and based upon their needs.

    Our church currently makes families and children feel welcome to worship together with the option of nursery or children’s church up until 2nd grade. 1 Sunday a month there is no children’s church and they are all in the service with us. Not everyone, mostly people without young children, was excited with the change, but it has been a beautiful thing. Thank you for this series.

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  25. How can we read, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me . . .” and then exclude children from the Worship of God in Church?

    In our Greek Orthodox Churches we do not have a tradition of excluding children from Worship. My dd has been with us in Worship since she was 40 days old. If a child gets loud, parents can go & come with the child as needed (we do have a glassed-in “baby room” upstairs for when parents need to nurse or change a diaper).

    Our family has a policy that none of us go where one of us is not welcome.

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  26. Very interesting post, Nicole. This is not something I’ve ever thought of before. In our church the first hour is for the whole family, and it is often quite noisy! :). The 2nd and 3rd hours are split up into various age groups and classes. (Ex. Sunday School or Strengthening Marriage for the adults…you choose which one). Babies are expected to be with their parents until 18 months old. Then if the parents choose they can have their child in the nursery until age 3. At age 3 they are welcome to attend other children’s classes. However, there have been times that I have had my kids with me because they are sad, or tired or whatever and it’s no big deal. There are always kids coming in and out, needing to go to the bathroom or a hug or…. I hope you find something that fits what you are looking for! 🙂

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  27. I also experience the same thing at few different church’s.
    When my daughter was a infant some members were shock that they didn’t hear her make a sound. At times she was sleeping or I have toys that didn’t make sound for her.
    I still carry a over size peanut jar that is plastic, it has been cleaned out and has small toys
    in it that do not make sound.
    Now that she is four years old she want to attend the child teaching class, but I am not having a hard time with that because I enjoy having her there with me.
    This is a great topic, would love to hear more about this topic.
    God Bless,
    Inez

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  28. I hope this will be touched on but what do you do when your children want to go to the programs- they see their friends going and they throw fits- nearly every Sunday. My husband is the youth pastor so we can’t up and switch churches. Also my husband encourages them to go… For me, it is not worth the battle.

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  29. I love this. Early on in our family life we knew we wanted our children with us in church. And many churches just did not welcome this. Thankfully there is growing awareness in this area and so many more churches welcome the whole family in the service, but obviously not all. The church we were a part of for many years still offered a nursery for 2 year olds and under specifically for those who were not used to having their children with them, but there was no discouragement from keeping babies and toddlers with the family. We also lost people because they didn’t want any of their children in the service with them. This was sad, but clearly they fit better elsewhere.

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  30. My husband is a pastor and he is so focused when he is preaching that I don’t think he would notice when the babies in the church make a sound, lol!

    We do have a nursery for babies. We have toddlers/preschool during the service for 2-4 year olds. But when you’re in kindergarten and up you are in regular church.

    We used to have children’s church but the kids wanted to stay in the service so we eventually gave that up. We would start it up again if we had interested children, parents and helpers.

    Children are always welcome and we never make people feel like they need to put their children in the nursery or toddler’s church.

    When my son was two months old I had him in church with me. A woman came up to me afterward and said “When MY son was that age, I put him in the nursery so he wouldn’t distract people.”

    I smiled and said “That was nice of you!” and just went on my way, lol!

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  31. I don’t have time to read the other comments (although I’d love to) but I HAVE to comment on this! The little church I grew up always welcomed children in the sanctuary. If you want to put your baby or child in the nursery or Sunday school class, that was fine and fun! But if you wanted them to be in the pew with you (on you) that was welcomed too! Any giggling, burbling, crying, shifting, fussing, whispering, not-so-whispering…it was ALL welcome. Did you notice it? Yeah, sure, sometimes…but amazingly, the sermon message and God’s word still came through. I have no delusions that there weren’t children in the masses who followed Jesus…who sat around him and listened…fathers, mothers, children, infants, playing toddlers, nursing babies, fidgety 8 year olds, distracted 14 year olds – they were all welcome. And that’s what I expect of any church we go to. As for any sermons rated “PG-13″…some of the stuff we need to be admonished about may not be exactly appropriate for the 5 year old sitting next to you wondering what this “sex thing” is that the pastor is talking about. But I do believe there is a way to address these issues that makes the whole of the context family friendly – there doesn’t always have to be shock value in the sermon to get that PG-13 rating. That’s putting church a little too “main stream” for me. Gotta run but I’ll be back to read more! 🙂

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  32. I really look forward to reading part 2. You know, this is very important to read from my perspective as a Children’s Ministry coordinator. I enjoy partnering with parents in their spiritual training of their children, but I would never insist that a parent leave their child in nursery or Sunday school. The decision should be entirely up to the parents (especially with visitors, because as a mom, I understand their reluctance at leaving their children with perfect strangers!). I think children should feel welcome in the sermon. Furthermore, I would find it rather disturbing that a pastor label his sermon PG13. But that’s my personal opinion. Thank you for bringing this up! And for linking up at A Little R & R Wednesdays

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  33. We keep our children in church with us. Period. The end. Our church doesn’t even have a staffed nursery, though there is a mother’s room and a training room if needed. But the parent(s) are the one to tend their children in there. Excellent article, Nicole! I need to read the rest of the series! Thanks for linking up!

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  34. Thank you so much for your article on such an important and divisive issue.

    This morning, I met with my Church’s Sunday School minister wanting to know why my kids 14 and 9 go with me to the main service and not Sunday School anymore. I explained to him that my 14 year old, who is saved,and baptized, and actively involved in evangelism using Ray Comfort from Living Waters approach, decided to stop going to Sunday School because the Gospel message is being watered down in his class. Regarding my 9 year old daughter, I decided to pull her out because if the message is being watered down for teanagers, then it is definatelly being watered down for younger kids. I explained to him that I am responsible for her instruction, and since she comes from a home where dad is not a christian, she needs to hear the Gospel even more and by sitting with me at church, I could explain or talk about as a family (well, sometimes even my husband if he wants to join us) about the sermon.

    He then proceeded to try to persuade me to bring them back to Sunday School.
    His reasoning is that if they attend Sunday School they will start to develop friendships with other kids and those are skills highly valuable.
    I don’t disagree with him regarding building relationships, but he totally dismissed my reasoning for taking them out of Sunday School. Which are: a watered down gospel message and me wanting to grow together as a family as we listen to the same message on Sunday. We had to end our meeting because I had to go, I had a previous engagement scheduled. He wants to finish our conversation soon and wants me to reconsider sending my kids back to Sunday School.

    I am so glad for having read your article, I have been a christian for almost 3 years now and attended several churches looking for the right one; which by the way, I had never had a problem whenever I wanted to keep my kids from Sunday School. Now that we find a gospel centered church, I have to explain to them why I want to keep my kids with me on Sunday.
    Your article explains so well, biblically why kids can and should attend the main service with their parents.
    Thanks again!

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  35. I think as long as parents use common since it is fine to keep them with you in the service. If your infant or toddler is becoming a distraction make a quiet exit. I have six children and usually sit towards the back of the church for this very reason. My youngest is almost two and does at times get noisy. At the back it is very simple to slip out before she is much of a distraction. To be honest I think we should train ourselves to not be easily distracted to begin with. If someone else’s child is fussing, someone is coughing, enters the church late, or the elderly man two rows in front of you is snoring make a decision to focus straight ahead on the speaker.

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