My husband and I both love Jesus, we both love our family, and we both love the ideas of community, service, and giving. None of those things make looking for a church to attend any easier. After attending a new church on Sunday, I traipsed right into a debate that makes me want to run and hide. Not that I will, because it’s not my style, but I digress.
I won’t go into every detail here, but essentially, I was asked to leave church and wait in the foyer with my kids while attending a new church. I wrote this blog about it on Sunday if you want the whole story. I made sure not to be inflammatory, because that’s easy to do when you’re angry, but it’s also not helpful. I made sure I didn’t call the specific church out, because (at the time) I didn’t have the whole story and didn’t want to assume anything. I made sure I didn’t let my mama bear tear through anyone when the comments started coming in. But in full disclosure, I’m still upset over it.
To me, if my kids are not being disruptive, I like having them in church service with us. In fact, we have specifically gone to family-integrated churches for the last 5 years so that I could have my babies near me and not get kicked out of church. I kind of forgot that not everyone feels the same way I do about kids.
We were asked to leave because I had my kids with me, and I was told that “kids belong in Sunday School.” Forget that we were newcomers, or the fact that the kids we had with us weren’t even all ours, or the fact that we drove an hour to go to that specific church.
I was told that the church’s official stance is that kids are allowed in service. Certain people’s actions after the fact tell me differently. I’m not saying I can’t forgive these people or that they are horrible, we are all sinful, get hot-headed, say dumb things, etc… I’m only trying to say that I don’t understand.
Jesus taught to kids. He even said that you have to have faith like a child. He asked that kids be brought to Him. He didn’t send them away to some “other” church so the “grownups” could focus.
If my kids were being genuinely disruptive, I would remove them. I wish some of these people could attend just one Sunday at our family-integrated church where the pastor has been known to hold a toddler while he preaches. How’s that for handling distractions? When a child is not being disruptive, though, to ask us to leave defies reason.
Then my Facebook feed started growing with comments like these:
“We were kicked out of the local WV church Easter 2014 for the same thing.”
“I experienced this exact scenario 6 years ago as a single mom of three.”
” I just remembered getting “asked out” of a church service.”
“We got “escorted out” during a church service that we were invited to [for] a baby dedication.”
“…wouldn’t even let us sit in service, they just pointed to the cry room. Our kids were quiet and not an issue. The cry room was stuffed! Anthony got sick every time, and we couldn’t even hear the message.”
We are not talking about the same church, mind you. These are comments from a variety of people who attended various churches and all had the same experience. I’ve been asked out of another church in the past as well. This isn’t the first time.
I think we need to focus on Jesus, on building families up, and on making sure kids understand what it means to be a Christian (hint: it is not all about coloring, games, and social time). This includes learning how to sit through a church service, how to listen to the Bible, how to serve others, and how to worship God. What better way to learn than from mentors and not just peers? I don’t know one thing in my life I have learned from people my exact age; I have always learned best in a mixed-age group. I don’t know why children should be viewed any differently.
We learn from other people’s experiences, and I’d love to hear yours. Not to bash churches or to degrade preachers or pastors, just to share our stories so we can do better in the future. So, I ask you: Do you attend a church where children are allowed in the service? Do you agree or disagree with their policy?
**This post originally appeared on BlogHer.com June 2015.**