Children, Church & Craziness

I’d love your advice! 

If you have children, previously had young children, or simply have great ideas I want to hear from you! 

I’d love to know your tips for keeping children connected during a church service. 

Understandably our nearly two year old daughter is full of energy and loves to be part of what’s going on. She’s a good girl but doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s not ok to yell “YAY!!!” at the top of your lungs and clap her hands during a prayer for the sick or call out to her friend at the top of her voice when she spots her across the room. And you can forget about sitting still too, the world is just too big a place to sit still and not explore. 

I love these qualities in her but I also realise that they can be disruptive to our and other’s experience of church. I know she’s young but we’d love to help her connect with what’s going on and help her learn through the process. We’re new at this and pretty much clueless right now :-). 

What should we do, what’s worked for you in the past, how have you dealt with this situation? 

So hit me up, I’m ready for your awesome ideas on helping children to be part of church!

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12 Comments

Filed under About Me, church, Family, God Stuff, Parenting, Worship

12 responses to “Children, Church & Craziness

  1. at Sandals Church we have children’s age specific programs babies-12th grade during the adult service so that we can have a distraction free service. I love it. don’t know if that helps…

    • Eddy

      Hi Lori

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      We too have programs for kids during the service, which in and of itself isn’t a bad idea but we think it’s also important to be “in church” with our daughter.

      We feel that it’s important for her to be part of what is going on and to experience that with us and others, sometimes I get the impression that kids are only welcome in a service when they are quiet, we forget that they are part of the “church family” as well and we try to “lovingly” put our little “problems” into programs so they won’t disturb the rest of us (ok stepping off the soapbox now ;-)).

      Often one of us will take our daughter out to the creche during the message, but we’d also like to know what we could do to help her connect with the parts of the service she’s in with the rest of the congregation, any thoughts?

      • soapbox is certainly allowed :]

        there may be a few more ADD adults at our church than normal, and with a huge congregation it is certainly makes a huge difference. and to be fair our church has a great children’s program(s) and are made to feel a part of the church, not treated as problems 😀 with the 1st-6th grade kids getting their own kid friendly worship service and age-specific. obviously i don’t have kids so i am voicing my thoughts from the other side, but i am easily distracted, and i really like the atmosphere that our setting provides, allowing me to be introspective, contemplative, and listening for God’s voice throughout the entire service.

        i have been at other churches where they have the kids stay until the end of the worship set and then send the kids off during the teaching/preaching time. that seems to be a good option as well.

        just wanted to provide some further info from the “other side” ;]

      • Eddy

        Thanks so much for your thoughts Lori, I greatly appreciate them! It’s been good to hear from some on the “other side” who doesnt have kids but would notice them in a church service 🙂

  2. Jayno! :)

    …don’t really have any advice I’m afraid, but feeling the same struggle…without the high pitch 😉

    Apart from our cheeky 18month old’s love for music (which means he wants to run up the front and join in 🙂 ) the only part that he takes part in is the offering. I love this part! I know he doesn’t understand what he is doing, but I love watching him drop coins into the bag…(although admittedly the first 2 times when we were teaching him we had to shake the coin out of his hand 😉 ). Its not that I’m in love with him giving the money, because as I say I’m sure he has no concept of what’s happening, but I do love that he is actually DOING something in the service that is relevant to the service.

    Apologies again for no advice, but you’re not alone! 🙂 Also, I think your daughter is amazing, and I quite like her top of the lungs, “yay” even if its not quite at the “right” time!

    • Eddy

      Hi Jayno

      Thanks for commenting I really appreciate it 🙂 (and for the nice use of smileys)

      I know our children and I know they will learn, I just wish sometimes there was a place to get some advice on how others have done it before us.

      I love hearing kids in church, especially mine (and seeing who turns around LOL), I guess that sometimes I feel other people’s eyes giving me a look like “can’t you control your child”.

      Phooey to that, I think it’s more important that our children learn about church, what we do and why, and have the opportunity to participate with that IMOH 🙂

      A manual on the subject would be nice wouldn’t it 😉

  3. mine are older now, and the outbursts are confined to giggles and armpit farts.

    Personally I used to love seeing little people join in and sing along, and seeing the big smiles from the front when they recognise a song is more connecting to God than some adults do in church at times. I also used to like it when the little people came to talk to the musos after the service. I think music provides a “language” for them to connect with before they speak., it’s a much more instinctive thing.

    For me, I think church should be all about integration of all age groups, very young, very old and everything between….there needs to be understanding and tolerance from all quarters for the particular quirks of each age group.

    I say let the kids get the feel of a corporate gathering and participate in any way they can. make them feel welcome and integrated, help them form relationships with non-family oldies, and we might have a chance of keeping more of them in church once they leave school

  4. This is a perennial question for parents – one which has been asked for many generations. My children are well and truly grown up now – but this was still an issue when they were little.

    Your little one has a very short attention span – that goes with the territory of being two years old. You need to be creative at ways of providing her with distractions. Try to establish a variety of “quiet” activities with her – and practice them at home. It may be a special soft toy which is only (usually) played with at church, or a set of blocks, dolls and clothes or whatever catches her interest. Take a favourite book for her to look through. And… always take a drink and snack for her (little items like crackers which you can provide her with once at a time). Don’t forget the crayons and a special colouring book for church.

    Another favourite to use is to put down a mat which delineates the space she can play on.

    Young children can be taught (over time and with lots of patience) how to act appropriately in a church setting. You need to balance your needs for a time to reflect and worship, with her needs foractivities which reflect her experience in life.

    Having said that – I think there is nothing nicer than little children in a church setting. A little noise and activity from them should enhance the sense of being a family and community together, and we need to rejoice in the beauty of new generations that God provides.

  5. I am always disappointed when I hear people tutting if children are present and not behaving in a way they think they should.

    Children are welcomed into our church, they are valued and given the freedom to express themselves. Even the best behaved child will have bursts of energy and exuberance – it is God’s gift of Joy to children, which we should take joy in.

    Sure, provide programmes to help them, and keep them occupied – but Jesus valued the innocence of laughter of little children, and wished us to retain their joy and enjoyment of life in its fullness.

    I really think that some people have lost sight of what is important – being religious or being joyful and full of love – this applies during worship as for the rest of life.

    For those, who do not wish to have children at their service, there is provision for other services, early ones, where children are unlikely to disturb their worship.

    So my tip would be to allow the children to be children.

  6. Eddy-(Sorry about this being so long, I have really been wrestling with this issue.)

    I’m coming at this from a little different perspective, I’m a pastor. I don’t know that I have any answers, but maybe I can share some things that I wrestle with.

    First of all I have 4 children and I would rather not have my family separated on Sunday mornings but there are some logistical problems with me being a pastor. That being said I don’t want other families separated unnecessarily on Sunday mornings. Currently at our church the kids stay in until it’s time for the message and then they leave to go hear age-appropriate messages. Our lobby has a video feed of the service for those parents that don’t want to put them in class but can’t keep them in service because they are being disruptive.

    Some problems that I wrestle with:

    How will they learn to behave if they are never forced to do it in a church setting?

    How will they learn to worship and respond to God’s Word if they never witness God’s people doing just that?

    How do we help parents raise godly children if our message is “they must have specialized, age-appropriate teaching” what parent can compare with that?

    How do we promote inter-generational discipleship if we are always separating generations?

    Some other problems I see:

    How do we expect the pastor or listeners to keep his or their focus when some children do their best to be distractions? (from experience, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain focus with a child yelling “Amen!” over and over and over because somebody laughed the first time they yelled it.)

    What about those moments in a service when you can sense that God is using the sermon to speak to people’s hearts when the child in the third row decides that it’s time to put on a show of some kind so that everyone will pay attention to them? I know that God is big enough to speak to people regardless of the circumstances, but I think that there are some environments that make more room for God to speak.

    Answers: None

    I think that children can learn to behave in church at a young age, the problem is that many parents to teach it or expect it. As a rule I think that we under-estimate our kids. I think that they would surprise us if we challenged them more

    I think as your daughter grows you can continue to engage her in different elements of the service. Singing, clapping, dancing, finding the Bible passages, communion when she makes a decision for Jesus and so on. I would encourage you to continue to help her participate in whatever ways she is able.

    There is a book written by Voddie Baucham called Family Driven Faith. It is an incredibly challenging book that you might find helpful.

    Thanks for raising the question.

    • Eddy

      Hi Jeff

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, especially from a Pastor’s perspective. I struggle with the same questions about how to teach children to connect in church if we keep sending them out.

      Love your thoughts about how we under estimate our children, I think it’s so true, they can do more than we give them credit for I think. 🙂

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