Dear Mom Whose Kids Misbehaved in Church,
I heard your kids yesterday in church. Like, through the entire service. I saw the displeased glances people exchanged and the dirty looks a few people shot your way. I know you were embarrassed and frustrated and probably wish you’d just stayed home. I’m sure you personally didn’t get much out of the service. Perhaps you left early to avoid people making comments to you about their behavior afterward. But I wish you’d stayed, because I have something very important to tell you: Thank you.
Trust me, I get the challenge of bringing children to church. I’m a single mom in the pews myself. Just because my kids were (mostly) well-behaved yesterday doesn’t mean they always are. We’ve had our share of awful services ourselves, where I’ve left either fighting tears or seething at my children. I get how hard it is to keep active children quiet and still for that length of time, while trying to teach them what church is all about.
Let me give you a little encouragement: It won’t always be this way.
I know that’s not extremely helpful at this exact moment, with your preschooler and toddler competing to be heard over the organ, but keep the end goal in mind. While my four-year-old still has his moments in church (throwing a tantrum during the sermon because I won’t let him go in the kiddie pool in February, say), my teenagers know exactly what to do in church. My ten-year-old brings her Bible and finds the readings on her own so she can follow along. My six-year-old knows the liturgy by heart and is starting to sing the hymns if I point to the words as we go. Your kids won’t always be this age, and if you teach them now that church is a priority, they’ll catch on (hopefully) sooner than later why we’re doing this in the first place.
Come to think of it, why are we doing this in the first place? Because Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Those words are so important they’re recorded three different times in the Bible: Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:16.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
What, exactly, does that mean? Children are a reminder of our status before God. Just as children are completely dependent upon their parents, so are we completely dependent upon God. As children display absolute trust in their parents, so ought we have the same faith in God. Think of a child flinging himself out a tree into his parent’s waiting arms. He has no doubt his mommy or daddy will catch him.
The Bible calls believers “children of God,” and I’ve long thought that can be either positive or negative, depending on the situation. Yes, children have absolute trust in their parents and depend upon them for everything, but children can also be… well, children. They fight, they whine, they throw tantrums… In short, they need the discipline of a loving parent to correct them and guide them on the right path of life. Who among us is any different? Oh, we may not throw ourselves on the ground kicking and screaming, but we whine about life being unfair, we complain to God, we fight with those around us. We need the correction of a loving God to show us a better way. What a beautiful reminder of life in the family of God, to see and hear children in church!
So stick with it, Mom. I know it’s frustrating. I’m sorry if you saw a few dirty looks or overheard any snide comments. I’ve gotten a number of those over the years myself. But please don’t let that stop you. You’re doing the right thing, bringing your kids to church to hear about their Savior. Thank you for caring more about their spiritual welfare than their current temperaments. Thank you for not allowing them to dictate whether or not you bring them to church. Keep at it. And someday, when your kids find themselves in a similar situation with their own children, pass this letter along to them. God bless you.
A Fellow Mom