tough call

We have been having an internal debate/ discussion with our staff here at Grace.  The conversations have centered around do we create a policy that says children over the age of say 6 months and under the age of 7th grade are not to be in our sanctuary during our services.  I know the initial reaction to that can be come on, it’s a church.  How can you tell parents what to do?  Is it really that big of a deal.  I can tell you that as the person who is the primary communicator at our church, it is distracting and sometimes even frustrating when kids (again we are not talking junior high or senior high students, but rather grade school and below) are in our services.  But my (and our) concerns and conversations have centered around some other important pieces that are much less selfish in nature.  Here are some of the threads in our conversation:

  1. Parents get less out of the service because they are forced to pass out sippy cups and fruit snacks.  As they are attempting to keep little Johnny quiet, they are not able to focus on what is being presented and shared.
  2. There are topics, words and thoughts that we are communicating in our morning service environment that are not appropriate for children.  We feel we need to talk about certain stuff and when we do a kid may hear things mom and dad wish he or she did not hear yet.
  3. We work really hard to create engaging and relevant environments for kids.  The spaces for kids are safe.  Our volunteers are prepared.  They are teaching kids great stuff.  The kids will have fun.
  4. I get concerned for guests and other adults who are forced to have their experience hindered because of the children around them.  When the kid two seats down is constantly complaining things are taking too long, it affects seated around him or her.
  5. Kids can end up having a negative view of church and the Bible because they are being forced to sit through a teaching and an environment over their head.  We would not put a 4th grader in chemistry class and expect them to sit through it patiently. 

As you can see, I have thought about this quite a bit.  At the end of the day, whatever choice we make, it will be a tough call.

6 thoughts on “tough call

  1. often older kids/adults can be just was disruptive during service, do we ask them to be quiet? give’em a dirty look? get up and move?

    parents should be respectful of those around them, if their baby/kid is unhappy, they need to get up and take them out….i wouldn’t make this a rule, just make it a reminder….

  2. I think this would be a huge put off for visitors (maybe non-Christians) who want their children with them in a new environment. Often times the children are also hesitant to go into a room where they don’t know anyone and don’t know what will happen.

    I have attended Grace for more than 5 years and have never been hindered because of any child seated near me. My attention has been hindered by other adults. What kind of policy can we make for this?

    1. Parents multi-task all day and I bet if they could send their kids elsewhere they would.

    2. Children hear worse on the TV, radio, at school and most likely even in their own house.

    3. Kids don’t always need to have fun.

    4. If the same child is always a problem, speak to the parent and see how we can help.

    5. Sells our pastor’s communication skills short if he thinks the major points of his sermon are not understandable or applicable to a child.

  3. I have a hard time convincing my children in this age group to go upstairs to the groups. They are shy and nervous, and I would likely have to stand outside the sanctuary on Sundays with this rule. I think it would be great to “remind” children and parents of the groups, and it would make more room for guests! The “rule” seems negative, and my children pick up more from the sermons than you think! Because they sit through them with me, we have some pretty cool conversations on the way home and later in the week!

  4. I’ve been on many sides of the issue: kept my kids with me, been asked to “move to the back” with them, put them in the nursery. Asking that ll children go to special classes can be looked at from this perspective:
    A parent that IS a Christ-follower will understand that you are trying to “enhance” the listening experience for all around, and will do what is necessary for their child NOT to be a disruption (like sit in the back and take the child out.)
    Visitors might not understand, but if the Lord leads them here, He can make the “reasons” clear, and they will follow through.
    Those who choose to be “contrary” need to be reminded that “seek your neighbor’s good, not just your own” is part of being a Christ follower.
    If possible, it would be good to have a place where a parent can go and be with their child while still hearing the sermon… like, say, the Common Grounds Cafe??
    You WILL offend someone, I know. (and have “let the children come to Me” thrown at you….) I pray for wisdom and God’s absolute direction in this.

  5. I agree with most of what has already been said. We don’t want to offend visitors. I know of times when I have guided new parents and their children to the appropriate classrooms, introduced them to other students their age and the child is way too shy to participate. However, we do have the cafe now and it is a great way to allow parents with younger children who REFUSE to stay in class away from mom and dad to still hear the message without having to sit and do nothing. It may be beneficial to announce that we have the cafe with a live feed so if younger children need to leave the service with mom/dad they can go there.
    At another church, the welcome desk had small boxes of “keep your kid busy” stuff for parents to borrow during the service. Books, coloring pages, crayons, pencils, animal crackers, goldfish, etc. It was listed in the bulletin in case someone missed it coming in.
    I feel that once people become comfortable coming to our church and seeing what wonderful staff we have caring for their children, they and their child will have a much easier time heading off to the appropriate class without us having to institute a rule for no children.
    In addition, I feel that Keith is a captivating speaker and students in that “in-between” age will really benefit from his messages.

  6. I have been to many churches, of different types, and quite honestly the parents of some of the children are more the problem, Deal with that first,

    However if a young preschool child is disturbing the service for the parent chances are they are also disturbing those around them. Please be considerate.

    The Little Children and Jesus
    People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

    Tough Call No Doubt!

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