to not let the children come

I have learned to look out for key phrases when trying a new church. Heading to the church's website I scan for phrases such as "family viewing room" and children's classes with "age appropriate activities". When I read those words I know to stay clear or risk putting myself and my husband in an awkward situation. We have been in those situations many times before.

Like the time when Moses was a baby and we decided we were ready to try a new church. I read about it online, a church plant holding its first service that day. Seemed perfect since we are small church people and we like to be with things from the beginning and help them grow. But anyway, we decided to go, the husband, Moses and I, leaving the other kiddos with grandma because, you know, we had no idea what to expect. It seemed like it was going to be a hipster church {what churches aren't these days?} and we were like, okay, whatever, at least there will be some young couples there like us {though most definitely not young couples with six children- we only had six at the time}.

So we pull up and there are hundreds of people there and we are so totally confused.  We are church planting people and neither of us have ever seen a church plant with hundreds of people.  But whatever, clearly they had this whole thing very carefully designed and organized.  We walk in, Moses in my sling and the husband holding my hand.  Greeted by an over enthusiastic twenty year old woman whose smile appears to be plastered to her face.

"The sanctuary is this way and the nursery is down there.  You just need to check him in at that table and there are wonderful teachers waiting for him!"

The husband responds, "Thank you.  We prefer to stay together."

{I will pause here to say that we have nothing against children's church.  We use it if our kids want to go.  If they don't, we keep them with us.  If they are loud, we go outside.  At the beginning of services we typically all stay together until the various children are ready {if they are ready} to go.}

Can't-stop-smiling-lady says, "Ok!  Our family viewing room is right over there.  You can watch the entire service on the screen!"

We are beginning to see where this is going.  Husband speaks up to prevent me from saying something stupid, because that's me, miss tongue of fire. {Let's all remember that's why I write.  I can think before I speak.} 

"We are not really in to watching church alone on a screen.  For that we would just stay home.  But thank you, we will just take him in with us."

Yes, she is still smiling.  "Oh, we don't allow children in the sanctuary.  But we have a lovely family viewing room, and it is all set up!"

I'm about done.  I smile back and can't-stop-smiling and say, "That's okay, we'll just leave."

"But wait!  We just don't want the distraction and we have the room and it's all set up!"

The husband saves me from snapping. "We understand.  We just like to stay together and we like to be WITH the church.  We understand your reasons, it's just not for  us."   He turns to walk out.

I, with baby Moses in my sling, turn around slowly to follow.  Almost out the door but I . just. can't. leave without making my thoughts known.

I turn back to can't-stop-smiling-lady who is still smiling and say, "Because, you know, I think I remember Jesus saying, 'let the little children come to me for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these'. But if you want to keep them out, that's your prerogative." And then I walked out.  {I know, bad amy. bad, bad amy}

And that wasn't the first time.  And it wasn't the last.
So I have learned to look for those key phrases.  Because then at least I have a chance of not putting ourselves in that situation.

It makes me so sad. The purpose of the Body is togetherness, fellowship, community worship, service, edification.  Why would we keep our children away from that?  I'm pretty dang sure if I were to walk into a church where Christ was teaching there would not only be children in the service, they would be sitting on His lap.  But whatever, our modern day churches know so much better than Jesus don't they?

Jesus said, "Don't stop children from coming to me! Children like these are part of the kingdom of God."
Matthew 19:14 God's Word translation 


  1. This (beautifully-written) post makes me feel so sad. I grew up in a church w/o a nursery, and the belief was very much that children should be in church all their lives b/c it's amazing what they learn from even the very youngest of ages. My husband grew up the same way, and he started going to church at a much younger age than I. His mother thought he'd preach, someday, b/c he was a wild, Bible-thumping toddler; he walked and preached the halls of her trailer and called God down.

    We live in a different place, now (near Richmond, VA as opposed to East TN), and our little children are in nursery. Well, actually, my 4yo just joined the choir, so she's in nursery only for the sermon. It's quiet enough to hear a pin drop in there...all the time...not so sure that's a great thing. But I will say that I can really concentrate w/o the little children. So I guess, then, it's my responsibility to pour what I learn into them, throughout the week.

    We do feel like we're in the right place, but I totally understand what you're saying, here, and I just want you to know that I will be praying about this church hunt. I know you've been looking for a long time, and it would be so nice if you could connect w/ some other believers (offline).

    Love you.

  2. Wow. I've never experienced a church that bans children from the service. One thing I appreciate about Voddie Baucham's sermons online is you'll always hear little voices piping up during the sermon.
    I think child geared lessons have their place when they are a sub-part of discipling parents to do the heavy lifting of teaching and training and not when they are a substitute for parental training.

  3. Wow, I'm shocked. I have never been to a church that doesn't allow children in the service. I go to a church that has the option of leaving your kids in the nursery, but definitely not required. Parents and little kids are in the service all the time, and there is no distraction. That is sooo terrible. I cannot imagine walking into a church and being told that. Wow.

  4. Our church has both thoughts among the people. Some choose to their little ones to the nursery and children's church others do not. It is ok either way. We have many little children in our 'services' and if they are disruptive or bored the parents 'most of them' walk around with them or go outside or whatever needs to be done. We don't say 'no'... it is an option that is open.
    I am sorry for you and your lack of 'acceptance'. ((HUGS)) to you.

  5. I haven't experienced this at church, but my own bother had a "children free" wedding. They are more common in my world. And , really, even if a couple doesn't intend to have kids (my brother did and has 2), aren't these gatherings about communion and community? It just makes me so sad. So many of us are turning off the TV and insisting on family supper while others are asking for separation.