Thursday, September 3, 2009

double dipping

I'm double dipping. I just got home from a church meeting that included a long discussion about children's church, a program that occupies kids from ages 2-7 during the sermon. While parents of young children support the program, there has been vocal opposition from older folks who think that kids need to learn to sit through church. The conversation was so troubling to me that I got home and wrote to the necessary parties. Here is part of that text:

"...Tonight I felt that more concern was being expressed for older members and their preference for tradition than for a person in the church who believes she is called to serve young children and the young parents who have claimed that the program helps them and their children. What do these older people have to lose other than a sense of satisfaction that things are like they used to be? I can tell you that those of us on the other end have a lot to lose. We have heard the message loud and clear that our children need to learn to sit in church. It has been communicated to us that this is more important to some people than the fact that we have some children in this congregation who (for medical and behavioral reasons) simply cannot do it. Do people not understand what the Rohrers, the Hershbergers, and my husband and I go through every day in our efforts with our special needs kids? To be told that I need to be more merciful to old people and their preferences for tradition - a tradition that has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus - feels pretty bad. I tried hard to put these feelings aside during the rest of the meeting. But on the way home it began to hurt again. I wish that people understood that those of us with troubled kids WISH that our kids could sit in church. I WISH that sort of normality for Martin every day. But I can't make Martin do what the older people want him to do. Why can't anyone have some mercy on us and give up this constant whispering about children sitting through church? It is so demoralizing."


  1. That does sound painful. I'm sorry there isn't a more gracious understanding of your situation.

  2. Kids usually leave about half way through the service at our church except for the summer where there is no activity period. I grew up in a church with an elaborate children's church that extended to the 4th grade and was run by the Pastor's wife. So, the tradition doesn't have the same resonance with me that it might with you. All I know, is that last week as I was trying to get the kids to not squirm during the longest service ever and trying mightily to deflect the glares from the older folks behind us, S. declared "I hate church!"

    The truth of the matter is... that I ENJOY church... and think it is okay to structure it so that my kid's do too. It is pretty tough already to convince Sim that the peaceable kingdom is better than the world where he gets to "get bad guys..." I at least want there to be something winsome about church for the kid... so that he can identify all these kooks as at least his group of kooks...

    I am glad that I could at least tell will be better in a couple of weeks

  3. Isn't it nuts how in church sometimes we can really lose our way? I hope your email prompts folks to rethink their decisions and priorities. It must've been very hard to sit through that meeting.

    - Rebecca

  4. jen, I admire your courage.


  5. Jen, at AMF now, the kids stay in the service once every couple months. I stay home those Sundays. It's just too hard.

  6. The world of disabilities is so diverse. We just had this same discussion at our church, however the opposite. The older folks wanted to start a children's worship because they "can't concentrate for all the commotion" the children are making during worship. I was hurt because I felt they were "booting" my child out of worship because of his disability. We do have a mostly sound proof room with windows in our audtorium w/sound and sight of worship that we use for children, but that wasn't sufficient for them.There will always be varying opinions in a church and 2 people with the same situation will react differently. That makes satisfying everyone difficult.

  7. Thank you all for posting your comments. Next to reading Jen's daily blog, reading your responses is often the highlight of my day. Today especially.

    A comment of my own in response to Anonymous whose kids got asked NOT to be in church.... It's nice for the parents when they have a choice. What if those in church could say, "you are welcome to keep your children in church, and if you like you may send them to kids church"? That's what I'm hoping for.