Sunday, August 3, 2014

where there is no children's church

On any given Sunday morning in America, thousands and thousands of families will file into churches, depositing their kids in the hands of capable care-takers who will teach and entertain and subdue the wee ones while the adults engage in a more mature form of worship. For some parents, dropping their kids off for Sunday school or children’s church - or whatever blessed child-friendly programming the church offers - is THE saving grace for the adults that have been wrangling their offspring all week long. Fellowship is certainly a gift in and of itself, but fellowship minus anyone asking for snack/potty/nose wipes is a small morsel of the heavenly realms.

I grew up in children's church. I volunteered in the nursery. I helped with the kiddos class. But never did I really learn to appreciate this feature of most American churches until I had a child was no longer nursing. Nursing baby in church? - no problem. She ate, she slept, we sang, we listened - all was harmonious. But it was after the tumultuous weaning juncture in our relationships that I no longer had the magical powers to keep a busy-body quiet in the Fimpulu churches that we attend. For over half a year now, I have not heard a single sermon in its entirety. I have been some form of disruption in every single service. I have not thought any high spiritual thoughts apart from where is the closest exit and how can I scoot out with Bronwyn without drawing all eyes towards me. 

I fully understand why there are precious few children present at village churches on Sunday mornings. Parents would rather leave the kids at home than lug their too-heavy-to-carry-five-miles-carcasses just to sit outside with them so as to avoid embarrassment and scolding from deacons. For entire seasons of parenthood, families either do not go to church or find some other church avoider to take care of their wild-ones so that the parents can attend.

corralling her behind bars might be the best option 

We do want to go to church and we are not comfortable leaving Bronwyn with someone for hours at a time, especially if we are unreachable. And so, we lug her to church with us. Every week. We lug. Jeremy and I take turns playing with her outside. We play in sand piles, climb trees, and generally have a jolly good time.  Occasionally we find ourselves in a bind when the outside parent has just been called to the front to pray/read/talk/preach and we have to do a rapid switch, which usually involves Jeremy (bless him) rushing in from outside, figuring out the directions and standing to deliver something inspirational with about 60 seconds of harried preparations.

um, yeah, your sermon notes look ok, dad

The end result of this mad scurrying and strategizing and here and there and please hush, darling child is that neither of us has actually engaged in corporate worship in what feels like eons. As we are Professional Church People – this feels to us like a slip in quality control and we have considered scrapping our ministry to adults and creating our own children’s church. But when I think of the children’s ministries that have curriculum and crafts and organization and all I have is a pile of sand -  I see more clearly my limitations and accept that this is just the season of our life. Because, for the love, we don’t even have cheerios, which tells me that clearly, children’s church is not amongst our cards.

she's building a fire. fabulous. 

And so, dear church going friends who attend awesome churches with awesome kids programing – count your blessings and name them one by one, and the next time you cross paths with the children’s ministry people who have dedicated their sanity to your child’s well being so that you don’t have to -  HUG THEM. Hug them and tell them that they are wonderful and request that their photo be included amongst those of the Saints, for that is what they are. 


To the not-yet-parents and parents of older-kids-not-requiring-a-one-to-three-adult-to-child-ratio, I beg you, volunteer in the children's ministry. If you have benefitted at all from corporate worship, learned anything from a thoughtful sermon, or felt uplifted in the least from the gathering of believers, you have the children's ministry to thank for it. Return the favor. The staff that organize it all – they need you. The moms that have been at home with their kids all week – they need you. The congregants that have no idea how distracting it would be to have seventy two Bronwyn’s running around like banshees needing a tree to climb – they need you. The children that would otherwise be left at home and are instead learning about Noah and Jesus and miracles and the cross – they need you. Every time I sit in the sand pile outside while the drums beat and the choir sings and the preacher preaches, I pray for you – potential volunteers – that you would answer the call and be the blessing to us all. 

love her.
And so, to the dedicated ones that are loving on my friends’ kids and to the volunteers everywhere that sacrifice a bit of them selves to serve the larger church body –- may your crowns be decorated with the most brilliant of jewels. Thank you.


  1. I feel you! We do have kids' ministry, but Linnea would not attend without me til she was 3. I served every other week till I was too pregnant to manage, and she was outside/in the lobby with us the other half of the time. It can be so hard. Peter, on the other hand, has always loved it. Different kid! We really do appreciate those volunteers. :)

  2. Hopefully I did facebook right. Left a message there for you