I remember church shopping when we first moved to Smalltown. It was painful. We found one, finally, where at the passing of the peace EVERY person in the small sanctuary shook our hand or greeted us. It was a stark contrast to the mega church we tried (the kids loved the rock band) where not a single person, in a room full of hundreds, shook our hand or even offered so much as a smile.
But while church shopping and the first weeks at the new church I remember the stress. I sat in the back where my children would not interrupt. I let them color or play quietly sitting on the kneeling bar so nobody could see them. Although there are not many kids in our church, I do notice that when they come – they sit towards the back where we do. There is one sweet 6 year old boy who comes sometimes with is Grandmother. She sits towards the front when she is alone, but if he is with her, they are towards the back along with us.
I remember the stress of taking the kids to church when we were new. I kept them in the back and often made firm faces to them – reminding them to be quiet, stand up, close their eyes, or whatever the appropriate response to the service was. I can’t imagine it was a pleasant experience for them (or me for that matter). But I was afraid that the others in the service would somehow disapprove.
Fast forward 9 months and here we are. I now know that he church members are thrilled to have children in the service. I realize that when heads turn after a baby cries out – it is not to shush them, but to offer the Mom an understanding smile. And the Pastor himself has a 3 year old and a baby, which bring great joy to the mostly older congregation.
Curiousgirl and Cosmoboy have been embraced by the church. They sometimes have jobs like to pass the plate for offering. These last few weeks they have been trained to be acolytes and have had a chance to carry the fire up to light the candles (I was sweating bullets and imagining the church starting on fire). The service we attend has also started to have a children’s sermon.
I am hoping that we will attract more families with children. I’d love for more kids to share in Sunday School with mine. But since I don’t know people to invite, what can I do? Well, I have decided that one thing I can do is to sometimes sit towards the front. If families come and sit in the back with their kids, I want them to see mine. My not so perfectly behaved, slightly loud, friendly, curious kids. And know that their children are also welcome and accepted.