Wednesday, March 11, 2009

family worship vs. distracting kids

Got this note from Jeannett Gibson . . . if you haven't heard why we at Grace encourage family worship and kids in our worship services, LISTEN HERE

Sunday during third service, Henry and I sat in the back middle pew right near the sound booth. A friend was sitting across the aisle. We chatted across the aisle while we waited for service to start and talked about our kids, etc. while Henry quietly scribbled on a worship folder. Suddenly, the woman sitting in front of my friend turned to him and said: "Excuse me, but will there be children sitting with you during the service?" He told her that no, his children were home sick with their mom today. She turned back around and after a few more minutes got up and moved to a different part of the Sanctuary. That was weird...

I noticed that when another family got there...they guessed it, right next to this woman. After a few minutes, she got up and moved again...I couldn't help but notice that she sat right by the another couple ...who also have their kids in service. I think she ended up staying there...

Anyway, while I am very sad for this woman (I've never seen her before) and don't want to make light of her feelings, I couldn't help but just grin from ear to ear...I thought it was just such a FANTASTIC testament to the commitment Grace has to family centered worship...that no matter where this woman was going to move, she was going to be surrounded by children!!! I. Love. It.

Thought you would appreciate that. Have a good day!
I do appreciate that!


Janice Phillips said...

Even though I'm single and do not have a family of my own (yet), I LOVE having children in the service. I view the wiggly boy next to me in a row or the little girl in front of me who whispers, "daddy, can I sit in your lap?" as beautiful examples of "let the little children come" being played out in a very literal sense. Furthermore, the body of Christ can encourage parents by being supportive. Sure, sometimes I may be distracted (how do those parents feel!) but a quick heart check reminds me to pray for those kids' hearts and hey, I can always listen to the message later in my iTunes! Worship on Sunday should be an overflowing expression of the worship going on in our lives all week and sometimes that's noisy, sometimes that isn't convenient to others, sometimes we need others to help us or just smile along with us.

Ah, sorry, will get off my soapbox now; but I agree w/Jeannett's sentiment. I. Love. It!

ryan.leslie said...

I, too, am appreciative of the family worship model. My children are all grown now with my youngest, 22 years old, to leave home this summer. I homeschooled my three children and they sat in church with us so we could worship together. That is what worked for us and we believed that it was important for us to be modeling worship, attentiveness, greeting, praying, using our Bible and following along, etc. We always sat down front as there were fewer distractions for the children. (I still sit down front for the same reason!) I loved singing with my children! What a treat! The churches we have attended in the past seemed to be confused as to why I wouldn't want the children tucked away in Sunday school or the nursery. There was one time when someone actually began steering my children down the hall while saying "They'll be just fine Mom. You worry too much." Whoa. We had a vision that many others did not share and didn't grasp. It wasn't the norm. The established method is "Parents go here...children go there."

My children were well behaved and we always used the restroom before church started. They may not have understood everything that Pastor taught, but over time, as they matured, they learned to eat the "meat" that he offered us every Sunday. We could talk about the sermon later on a level they could understand, and quietly answer questions for them during church. Our experience in church, once we got past the folks who wanted to get the kids into Sunday School :-), was very positive. No complaints from anyone. We even had a few converts! Slowly, other parents started to train their children to join them in "Big Church".

I've asked Eric, Nicole and Brandon if they thought we did the right thing. "Absolutely."

When you, Pastor Tim, came onboard at Grace and started talking about Family Worship, I was delighted! Here was someone else with the vision! I love having the little ones with us. I like greeting them and asking their names. I like hearing the babies and watching them grow. It works for me. I know it doesn't work for everybody. I hope no one would read this and think I was "should-ing" on anyone, because I'm not. My comment is meant to say: It worked for us; I like seeing others try it on; I'm glad that you, Tim, encourage folks to be comfortable with their children in church with us; I don't mind the bits of noise they make; I'm proud of our church's flexibility to try different approaches.

Sometimes when I hear the little ones cry, I think "There's our future leadership!"

Thanks, Tim, for bring this vision to Grace. It's good for us.

Your sis-in-Christ,
Leslie Ryan

Anonymous said...

I did not see this situation. There are other reasons to consider regarding the women's behavior. She might have had hearing difficulties. My mother-in-law would always need to sit on the left side to hear better. The lady also could have been taking medications reducing her ability to concentrate.

All of us at one time have not had the optimal experience in church. Sometimes a raspy cough for a number of reasons, sneezing due to allergies or a wiggly, frequently whispering or just plain unhappy child. I believe the persons in these situations feel more uncomfortable than I am distracted. Although probably out of vogue, my grandmother used to pacify us with hard candies. And of course crayons and paper.

The annoyance might not be about us. Maybe God has placed the disturbance by us so someone else is able to concentrate on the sermon. It could be that person needs to hear the message in a distinct and individual way.

Maybe our lesson that day may be teaching our children about worship in the house of God or appreciating parents who despite the effort take their little ones to "Big Church."

I am delighted our church encourages children's presence in church.

Just some ideas.

Denene KLosterman

Joanie said...

Thank you for welcoming our children!!! It is a beautiful thing to get to worship together. I love that they get to be familiar with the sanctuary and rhythms of the service, including getting fed by the sermons!

When I visit a church in my hometown, I am encouraged to take my kids to Sunday School. When I decline and opt to sit in their spacious and comfortable foyer (that was equpped with 2 HD TV's that had video and sound from inside the sanctuary - just like our beautiful cry room), I found that was frowned on also. What a waste of the space God gave them! Aprox 500 square feet that could be used for welcoming families is instead used for the purpose of pampering the greeters. I certainly appreciate the sacrifices of the greeters, but I wonder how the next generation will fare in a church where they are strangers to "Big Church?"