Thursday, 3 March 2011

Children and church?


So the big thing that is so often is on my mind is children in Church, how and why? I love this topic but once you enter into it it is so easy to open a can of worms and watch them explode over the room as Churches come to logger heads over what should happen to children in Church.

Seriously lets face it they're a nightmare, children in church. If you are not a parent then they are annoying, they ruin your church experience, they're a distraction and they should be in crèche or shipped off to Sunday School immediately. If you're a parent, it is probably one of the outings in the week that you dread, trying to get your children to sit still and be quiet in church, not being able to listen, always having to keep an eye on your child and just generally struggle to know what to do. They make a mess, they disrupt life, you can't talk to them, they ask too many questions... Yes I totally see it, I understand what you are saying, I feel for you totally and utterly. Yet as I have been thinking, reading and starting to research this I've begun to see another side. No, as a children's worker I am not going to sit with all the church children around my feet and see them behave perfectly, because one, that's not my job, two they won't sit perfectly and do exactly what I want them to do, they're children, they love exploring and experimenting. But I think we need to seriously consider exactly what they are exploring and experimenting during church or corporate worship.

The question I have been asking my self on a regular basis is why and how do we parent children through corporate worship? Should we even bother? I am not going to pretend that I know everything, I am not a parent and in ten years time I will probably change my mind about the ideas I have now, but as a member of a church I want to turn my mind to considering this and examine what we can do to help parents through what they probably often see as their worst nightmare when it should be their biggest joy to be at church with the church family worshipping God. There's not much around to help people really. I did a course on children's work recently and my final research project/mini dissertation was on parenting in the church and I struggled to to find much helpful stuff, three texts stuck out to me the most 'Parenting in the pew', an old faithful leaflet from the Mothers union (http://www.themothersunion.org/ which you just email and ask them for) and believe it or not, the Bible.


Before I say any more I am going to think and you can expect installments on this as I unpack it in my own head...

2 comments:

  1. So I love this and think it's really interesting, I know I'm not a parent, but I actually have pretty distinct memories of my childhood in church and so I want to say these things.
    I think it is absolutely possible for children to sit well behavedly in church and not be bored, or uninvolved but it is absolutely dependent on the discipline of parents in every part of life so that when church comes about it's not a total shock to the child to be expected to respect other people and manage not to be center of attention.

    I think that unless a child is being outrageous in church they are not an annoying distraction they are an encouragement and a delight, and anyone who's finding themselves in a state of anger needs of ask themselves if they're missing the point of church.

    I remember when I was about six wanting to be baptised and being told I needed to wait till I was ten because I wasn't old enough to know... I was dead certain and quite frustrated by the decision.

    I remember thinking that sunday was my favourite day of the week and looking forward so much to church each week.

    We are so used to segmenting society that it is reflected in church and we are not used to the idea of having genuine friendships with people of all ages. This is one of the most unsettling ailments of church in my opinion. young and old have so much to learn from each other. We need to be more patient and be less expectant of everything to be neat and Tidy and smooth... we should be happy to be blessed by and learn from the quirky oldies and the unorthodox young ones. We need to realise that being friends with younger/older people is not weird, but it is good.

    (just a few rambly preachy thoughts from a very tired Catie at stupid o clock) xxxxxxxxxxxx

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  2. I love having children in a church service. They bring a joy and innocence that no vicar or pastor can. Also, when things get really boring you can play with their toys and you're "looking after" them.

    But then again, I prefer church when it's messy and you have the old lady asleep in the corner, and the kid crying and teens chatting. I'm probably one of the most distracting members in the congregation, and I work for the church.

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