Currently I am in the process of finding a church home. I have been to a couple churches in my area and this Sunday I decided to try a church my eldest daughter wanted to check out. It is a newer church and the Pastor seems to be young, full of energy as well as technologically savvy. Before deciding to go I took a look at the churches website to find out where they were located and if what I saw lined up with what I was looking for.
I read a few of the Pastor’s post on his blog, check. I looked at the content and quality of the website, check. I noticed on the site that they have various ministries including nurseries and children’s church complete with beepers, check. SO I figure let’s check it out. Perhaps this would be a good ministry for the entire family, something a little less traditional than I am accustomed to but let’s give it a try.
Ok so church starts at 11:15. We leave the house at 11:07 headed in the direction of the church. We arrive about 20 minutes later. Myself, the 16yr old, 6 yr old, 17 month old and 2 month old pile out the car (Car seat included) at the convention center head toward the entrance of the church. After walking for about 4.5 minutes we see two of the members of the church. I ask them if we have much farther to go and they respond “quite a ways”. So I stop to take a breather and one of the women says, “But Kids_______ is back behind you”. I respectfully decline saying, “No thank you my children will be staying with me.” To which she very kindly responded, “We have an area designed just for children, where they can be ministered to. It’s right this way.” To which I smiled and responded, “This is our first time here so I would prefer they stay with me.” She then said, “Children aren’t allowed in the service. It disrupts you and the other congregants and so God led us to have an area designed for the children. You can follow me there.” I said, “Wait you mean they won’t let me in?” Response, “No not if the children are under 6th grade age”.
Now I was a little perplexed so I called home to confer what I was feeling. I explained what was going on and he saw both sides. I didn’t so I left and went to another church. I felt guided to go to church today and was torn between the two, the services started at the same time so I went to the one that was closer to home. After all of that I still made it to the other church in time to hear two songs and a word that was right on time. So at the end of the day I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to go to the other service, as was my daughter. I just was not comfortable leaving my children in an area that was far from where I would be with people I had never met. God must have been at work and knew that I was on my way somewhere. For as late as I was I was still able to take part of the majority of the service as if He held it up just for me. Perhaps when just the older children and I can go again we will visit again.
However where do you stand on this issue? What would you have done? Would you have stayed or left? In my opinion no one should ever force me to separate from my children, especially the two who can not talk. Second I do not feel that the idea of separating a family is scriptural. If it is please direct me to the passage as I am eager to learn. But to say I would not be allowed, hmph! In essence you are telling me my children are not allowed in your sanctuary, but what about Luke 18:15
“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But 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. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
I don’t want to sound cliche’ but what would Jesus do? I wonder if this is something many churches are doing now? I understand that when children cry or can not sit still it can be disruptive. However I remember being rebuked by the elders of my church, went something like “Girl sit still and be quiet!” I remember my grandfather telling our congregation when a baby talked during his sermon that the child might have been talking to God and to leave them alone. What has happened to us as people when we have so little tolerance for one another. A church is comprised of single people, families, married couples and all sorts of people. Since when was the reality of my life so bothersome that it was not allowed? That children had to have an age limit to enter the doors? Was I going to a club or a church service?
I know some feel that perhaps the service will be over their heads and that is true. However that is where I come in as the parent to explain in terms that they understand. I feel that Monday through Saturday my children see most of what I do, on Sunday I want them to see me worship as well. Well please ring in, when it was a restaurant everyone had something to say! I’m not opposed to children’s church where the children are dismissed during the sermon. It was the not allowed that got me. In addition, in order to be fair and get the entire picture I asked the pastor to read what happened and to comment. I hope he does. Perhaps I ran into someone who wasn’t sure what they were talking about. Perhaps they cover adult content and topics aren’t for children. In other words I am not trying to cast this church into the fire. I want your opinions, but I have an open mind and spirit to receive and understand the direction that the Pastor was under to make this decision.
UPDATE: While it seems as though the pastor of whom I am speaking has not responded as of yet. I do not want you to think that he has intentionally done so. After looking at his blog it appears as though he has recently lost his father. I wanted to say this so that no one began to work under the assumption that he was trying to hide or avoid my questions. I am sure this is a difficult time for him and his family and even though you do not know of whom I am speaking, keep him and his family in your prayers. As a matter of fact keep all who have lost a parent in your prayers as I am sure they are needed.