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  • Writer's pictureRay Reynolds

Children & Church (From the Preacher’s Pen)

A BIRDS EYE VIEW


You have arrived for Bible study on Sunday morning. You are late, but you take your child to class, then rush to the auditorium and sit down in a pew. At first, you sigh deeply, then you open your Bible to take in the topic of the class. As the class continues you can listen through the walls and can hear the children singing. You can hear what sounds like teenagers talking loudly. Before you know it, the bell rings and it's time to pick up your child for the worship hour.


The announcements begin, followed by the singing. You are having trouble thinking about the next few moments of our time together as a church family or about worshipping the Creator because you are nervous about how you are perceived by those sitting around you. Your child is restless, maybe even a little rowdy. The eyes of others seem to turn toward you. You try to silence your child, but nothing works. You attempt to pacify them with children's bulletins, then Cheerios, followed by coloring books and toys. You even hand them your smart phone and start scrolling through the apps and games. Nothing is working. Nothing.


The sermon begins. You want to listen. Your neighbors want to listen. So what do you do? You do the last thing you wanted to do! You pick them up... and as it seems the audience watches you... You march out of the auditorium dragging your toddler behind you. You overhear someone say, "Finally!" Another person smiles and laughs. You are frustrated and embarrassed.


When you reach the foyer you consider your options. You can't take the child to the nursery because they are past the "nursing" stage. What will you do? Option #1 Go outside and spank the kid (where no one inside can watch you - though the man walking his dog might see you), Option #2 Take the child to the bathroom where you can spank them silently), Option #3 Stay in the foyer and just give the child a stern speech about proper behavior in worship (though you know this may not be effective because past experience says you might end up here again in 5 minutes).



WHAT CAN YOU DO?


Sound familiar? You may be wondering, "Why even come to services? | get nothing out of worship!" Pay close attention to these words.... YOU ARE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE CHURCH FAMILY!


That's right. I want you to know that you are an encouragement to me, to the families who understand where you are, and to future parents.

Don't become frustrated. Don't worry about what other people think. If they are critical, they can take it up with Jesus! He said, "Let the little children come to me. Don't stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children. I tell you the truth, you must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a little child, or you will never enter it." (Mark 10:14-15)


I wonder if you have considered the whole picture. As you take your child out there are elderly members beaming with joy as you wrestle your little one. What you don't see is a happy elderly sister who is glad you brought that child to worship! You don't see the middle aged couple going through an empty nest reflecting on memories of their own past experiences with their children. You might not realize that an elderly brother is reflecting on how great it is you discipline your children, and that you can convince your child to sit so long during services, because his children do not attend worship anymore.


Keep coming to worship. Keep bringing your children to services. I heard a preacher once say: "If you don't hear crying, the church is dying." I know you are tired. I know you are probably overwhelmed. BUT KEEP THE FAITH! We are proud of you and we love you! Let the little children come to Jesus!



TO THE PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN


Welcome to the services of the Summerdale church of Christ! We are so happy you are here! During services this morning you may notice that your children have a tendency to be hyper. What should you do about it? Relax. God put the wiggle and children, so don't feel like you have to suppress it! We welcome you and we welcome them. Everyone is welcome in our church family!


We would like to encourage you to think like a child. Choose to sit toward the front of the building, where your children can have a better view. It's hard to see the song leader, Scripture reader, communion table, and preacher during the service if you have to look through a large crowd. They may be tired of looking at the back of other people's heads.


We would like to encourage you to train your child. Feel free to take moments throughout the service to explain to your child what we are doing and why we are doing it. Be prepared for them to ask questions in return. And feel free to answer them the best of your ability.


We would like to encourage you to engage in heartfelt worship. Your child will mimic you. Therefore, feel free to sing loudly, voice an "Amen" when appropriate, and bow your head for prayer.

Hand them a songbook. Give them a children's bulletin or sermon notes.


Remember that children are always welcome at the Summerdale church of Christ! Feel free to let them use the bulletin to draw, sketch, or doodle. We have crayons and color pages in the foyer. The church family loves to see their handiwork! If they draw a picture, please feel free to share it with me.


If you do need use of the nursery, or our sensory room, feel free to make yourself at home. We are so glad you were here! If you have to leave early with your child, please feel free to do so, but come back. Your child is not a distraction. Your child is a blessing.



TO THE REST OF THE CHURCH FAMILY


There are three things I love to hear during worship:

1) the sound of pages turning in the Bible, 2) the sound of an AMEN echoing through the crowd, 3) the sound of children in worship.


The presence of a child reflects the presence of young family. The presence of young family is the sign of a growing church. A growing church pleases God! Please welcome the children around you with a smile and encourage their parents.


Please do not become frustrated by noisy children in services. Remember that absolute silence does not mean absolute reverence. God will not punish us all if we make a little noise during worship services. Remember that you were once a noisy child.

Children squirm. Children wiggle. Children cry. Children talk loudly. That's natural.


When parents brought their children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them (Matthew 19:13-15, Mark

10:14-15, Luke 18:15-17), but what did Jesus do in turn to them? He 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." Please be patient and understanding. May God bless us all as we worship the Lord together.


You Are Loved,

Ray Reynolds




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