Toddlers during preaching

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by (^^)Regin, Oct 16, 2009.

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  1. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    If I were only spending only one hour a week at church, in a worship service, I would want to do that as a family. The family should worship together and the church body should gather as one. But I don't see why we can't also spend more time, in Sunday school hours, second services or the like where we're separated, the adults learning or praying free from distraction, and the kids getting something particularly well fit to their age level.
  2. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Hi Caroline. My post wasn't aimed at you. Just general observations having been a part of the Reformed scene for over a quarter century in various countries and cultural settings.

    Best, and I'm sure you're a great mom!
  3. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    This is not intended as attack, but I would suggest that you have a misconception of what a worship service is. It is not for you, or anyone else in the congregation to "get anything" it is for you and others to give to God what he commands. Worship is given only to God, and it is not what children "get" or what you "get" that matters. Worship is supposed to be centered on God and what we give him. While there is benefit to us, the purpose is to give. While we might have benefit of true grace in hearing the word, in sharing in the Lord's supper, in the prayers offered, and many other things, those are just peripheral to the corporate worship of God. The corporate worship of God by his people is not for his people in the sense of it being our "due" but it is what we give to God.

    Therefore, arguing that there are distractions, that children make noise, that the air conditioning is not working, that the heat is broken, that the piano is not properly tuned, that the seats are not comfortable or anything else that is man centered just isn't going to have me put much stock in the complaint.

    Going to a play, or concert? Sure, only those that know how to behave ought to be in the audience. But the audience in the worship of God is God, not us. And all those that are worshipping only worship acceptably because of the work of Christ. The filthy rags that I present in worship is not different qualitatively from the worship of a child, even one that is crying. They are covenant members of the church. They worship God, through the blood of Christ, just as acceptably as we.

    If God is the one that receives worship, our hearing the word is an element, yes, but even in that, it is not a teaching seminar. Preaching is not teaching, otherwise we would have the sermon with a blackboard and we would be taking notes and there would be tests at the end of every service.

    You are correct in one thing. No binding of the liberty can occur unless it occurs through the word or by other Biblical authority (we are free from the commands of men in anything contrary to the word, or beside it in matters of faith and worship). So the question is does God require worship by children, and if so, when.
  4. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    This is not true. Well, perhaps it is not totally incorrect, just more like a pious sounding overstatment. Why then is there teaching? Why does God meet us in the sacraments? To say that a public worship service is only to give something to God is simply wrong. If we aren't supposed to get anything out of the service, why bother taking notes... heck, why even make the Reformation era stink about the service being in an intelligible language? God centered, God oriented, yes. But God loves His people and meets with and admonishes, convicts, encourages, teaches, reminds, and blesses His people during worship. This is what we "get" in worship.... when we [are able to!] pay attention.
  5. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    I will side with Ben's assertion. You seem to be hearing what he is not saying. Of course first and foremost, the service is to be God-ward. Yet, to exclude the element of teaching is unfounded. In fact, since most people do not attend a bible study, the service becomes a focal point for teaching. My rule of thumb is if people will not attend a study, then bring the study to them when they are present. We must exploit the 'Sunday only' people who think they can be just some group of potted plants, throwing some cash at the operating budget, and leave immediately after the 'whistle blows' never to be seen for another 7 days!!!!! Your understanding of worship is the one that is too rigid and single purposed. Do not be a man centered phobic. God does come and tabernacle with man for a reason. To convert or to harden.

    Ben covers both scenarios with truth. It is not an either or situation. I for one do not applaud those who discipline their children into the kingdom with spanking to sit quietly for the service. God certainly does not prescribe physical punishment towards His children to partake of His love, so how can we think we have the right to do it with ours? It is a form of the terrible teaching of hell evangelism!!!!! It is conversion by Law and not grace.

    If the kid is unruly, don't bring them. Send them to a nursery or cry room. It is not as if God can only plant seeds or enlighten them on Sunday for an hour. The Sunday service can easily cross the line into sacerdotalism if we are not careful...
  6. CatherineL

    CatherineL Puritan Board Freshman

    Just for clarity, I want to point out that while we correct our children (at what I believe is an appropriate age) to train them to sit and be quiet in worship, I do the same to train them to sit and behave appropriately while eating out at a restaurant (or at our kitchen table!), to play quietly next to me when I ask them if I need to speak to Dad or a visiting friend or on the phone, and how to have a soft voice and stay close to me when shopping in the grocery store.

    Many people do not focus much on this kind of training anymore, so it may seem harsh and weird. Some of the comments on this thread imply that by correcting a child when they disobey in the service that parents will give them a bad impression of church. I put forth that this kind of training is essential, even if your children don't stay with you in the service (maybe you have a wonderful children's church program!). Children still must be taught to behave appropriately in situations that are not focused on their explicit entertainment, and there will always be situations where they must be quiet and listen. In fact, if church is the only time parents try to teach this, I'm sure both the parents and children would be very frustrated.
  7. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    First, I did not say that we don't "get" anything from worship, I stated explicitly that we do (in particular, I mentioned the LS as an explicit example). But teaching is not part of worship. Preaching is part of worship. There is a difference. And worship is not primarily for us. It is not pious sounding, it is plain simple truth. Worship is giving to God his due.

    Worship is to be intelligible, as it does impact the mind, but that does not mean that it is to be a library where those that are weak minded and have not learned to concentrate should preclude those that are young from being in worship as well. I'm not saying we should not encourage our children to be quite (and of older children demand it). What I am saying is that the scripture does not have any lower age limit mentioned (or that quiet is expected or required).

    It would seem much more likely that older folk have a greater capacity for training their minds to pay attention even in less than ideal circumstances than an 18-month-old has to remain quiet. If a soldier cannot concentrate during a battle because it is noisy, he is likely going to die and possibly cause his comrades death as well. Battles are rarely quiet places with everyone still and not causing distractions ... yet we expect a soldier to concentrate and hear his orders. Should we not expect people to concentrate during worship at least as much as a soldier during battle and to exercise self-discipline? Adult ought to be much more capable of concentrating than the capability of youngster to sit quietly for a 45 minute sermon. It is important for us to hear, but that means we should be able to concentrate even when a child cries (or is eating Cherios ... I cannot believe that is distracting to anyone over the age of 10! Self-discipline is required of everyone.)
  8. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Brian, How can the two be separated? This may digress the thread, but to say teaching is not part of the worship service is directly against the recorded writ of what is supposed to happen when we corporately come together. Teaching is used so frequently in connection with our Lord's appearance in the synagogue, that its lesson is obvious ( Matt 4:23; Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:15, 6:6, 13:10; John 6:59, 18:20). The main object of the synagogue was the teaching of the people. Paul continued this principle for the church:

    He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:9

    The rule of the synagogue for leaders was repeated by Paul. As the elders were the "pastor teachers" in the synagogue, Paul insisted that they be the preacher-teachers in the local congregation. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col 3:16

    And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people

    And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

    In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

    And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.

    There is just too many to mention here. I suggest you rethink this point you are making.
  9. ChariotsofFire

    ChariotsofFire Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am in need of some advice in this area.

    My wife and I have had our own share of difficulties with our 10 1/2 month old daughter. She sure is a wiggly one, and it is difficult for her to last in worship much more than 15 minutes. Sometimes the only way to keep her in the service is to distract her with a book or a toy. Then it seems like we're defeating the purpose of keeping her in worship. I'm not really sure what to expect out of a soon to be 11 month old (she is our 1st). Our church has a nursery, and I usually end up taking her there before the sermon sometime. Would it be better if I sat outside the sanctuary doors and held her there?

    I know it is important that children are in the worship service, and that even at that young of an age they are starting to understand so much. It just is very difficult to have my little daughter there, since she is so wiggly and noisy. It's not that she is misbehaving, it's just that she doesn't know that she is supposed to sit still. How do we as parents teach her that?

    Family worship is very difficult at this point as well, and she clearly has not learned to sit still without us distracting her with something, but then again she is only 11 months old. I just want what is best for her, but I'm not sure how to go about it.
  10. CatherineL

    CatherineL Puritan Board Freshman

    Josh, what I would do at that age would be to keep her in the service as possible (I'd shoot for getting through the singing, babies can get away with being a bit louder), but if she'll stay in the nursery I'd put her there for the rest of the service. 10 months is not too young to start, but I don't start really expecting them to be able to sit for more than 15-20 minutes until 2. At least none of my revved up crazy babies could do it, even practicing at home. :) That's just been my experience with my 3. My youngest (18 months) can get through the first 30 minutes or so, then we head to the cry room. It depends a lot on the baby's temperament.

    If you really feel convicted that you want her in worship at this age, I would take her out when she gets squeaky and bring her back in when she quiets down. I know this gets pretty exhausting though. Have your wife practice "sit time" with her at home at other times during the day (sitting at the computer has been a good time for us). Don't let her play with anything or distract her, just hold her in your lap (good to do this when she's not tired, hungry or wet of course!) and do something not related to her so she gets used to just sitting without something to distract her. I posted a link earlier in the thread that you might find useful related to this. Another idea might be to blanket train her. Basically you sit her on a small blanket and teach her to not crawl off the blanket and quietly play with a toy or two. You do it at home a few times a day building up time. Be very upbeat and be prepared for it to take some time. I did it with my oldest - had some special circumstances at the time that made it especially useful - but haven't bothered to teach my younger two. Just some ideas - hope that helps!
  11. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I've commented on this topic before (a search will reveal at least a dozen of such threads), so I won't be extensive in my comments here.

    1. I think that a covenantal principle is important, and families should be encouraged, where possible to worship together.

    2. Attempts to embarrass families or restrict children from worship (especially at a late age) are wrong. I have seen instances where all children under 12 or 16 are discouraged/prevented from worship in favor of "children's" or "teen" services.

    3. But I also believe it is illegitimate to embarrass or cajole families who have a real need for childcare during a service. Moms need a break. FAR too often it is always the Mom who is distracted or leaves the room. (And before a couple of posters pipe up who say "I take the child out," I am speaking from extensive experience in many churches in different parts of the country).

    4. I have never seen an advocate of the baby/toddler must be in the service (as opposed to a "may") answer the point made by Nehemiah 8:2-3

    5. I believe that those who most champion the "child must be in the service" view often make arguments that are contrary to the Reformed way of viewing both worship and the means of grace. When we speak of the means of grace, we (rightly) discuss the priority of the mind (viz. Owen on this point). This is the main reason we advocate Scripture reading in an intelligible (vulgar) language, preaching as a primary means of grace, and deny paedocommunion. Yet somehow, when we are speaking of a 8 month old, or a 10 month old, there is a form of mysticism that comes up, in which somehow simply being in the immediate physical location of a worship service imparts grace to a person who has no understanding of language, Biblical concepts, or teaching.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with having a nursery for such young ones, at the parent's option, so that the parents can be fed from the Word, have a short break from the cares of parenting, and be better equipped to teach their children.
  12. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Rightly said, Fred!
  13. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, well said, Pastor Greco. Thank you.
  14. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    WCF 21.5

    Teaching is part of the church, of that I agree completely, but it is not listed as an element of worship. Church members are not allowed to be just in a service on Sunday morning and that is it. If they are not immersing themselves in the Bible through self education, through group Bible study, Sunday School (even adults) then there is no way they are going to understand the scriptures enough.

    Learning occurs during preaching, but preaching is not teaching. Teaching requires two way interaction between student and teacher. And even though preaching is somewhat like a lecture, it is not to be purely lecture (if it were, then our worship services could have the "preacher" be a recorded sermon from the internet! Yuch!)

    That the two are different is clearly shown by one of the verses you quoted:
    This verse show Jesus doing three things, teaching, preaching and healing. They are different, and while it might be that many people want to equate them (I've seen this as an excuse for allowing a skit during a worship service ... "it is effective in teaching a Bible lesson"). More often the equating of them comes from those that want to bend the RPW into a wax nose to be bent that allows anything ... if it can be used to teach; then by saying teaching is what a sermon is, allows anything which can teach. It is preaching that is an element of worship, not teaching.

    Of course teaching must be done. The great commission is a command to make disciples, and we doing that (partially) through teaching. But disciples are those that undergo discipline (self-discipline most of the time). Are we making disciples if people only show up on Sunday morning and that is the only time they hear the word of God? I would say no. The call of God is not a call to slowly ease oneself into a new lifestyle, it is a call to deny self, take up a cross and follow. Those that show no sign of heeding that call may or may not be part of the body of Christ, but it is not for them that worship occurs (I would submit it is *least* for those that are not part of the body of Christ ... the worship service is not for evangelism even less than it is for teaching, even though it sometimes does occur).

    I recognize that some churches use the worship service for teaching, and many use them for evangelism (with "alter calls" at the end of every sermon) which I submit is outside the scope of what worship is to be. Worship is to be God centered, and done as he has commanded.

    I know what it is like to have to remove a child from a service when they are disruptive, but having library quiet is not required in a service. There needs to some control over children ... the service should not be a place where heckling occurs either ... but God (the audience of worship) hears the congregation (the performers of worship) even when children are less than perfectly quiet.

    -----Added 10/19/2009 at 06:09:35 EST-----

    Fred, much of what you state I agree with, and while I tend to be of the opinion that it is not right to keep children out of the service, I do so for different reasons than you express. But I certainly want to be the first person to answer the post if you have never had this answered. The passage is not a worship service ... people worshiped, but this was at the outset, this was just reading the law to a people that had not heard the law (return to Jerusalem). So while it was those that could understand, there is nothing to say it was the Sabbath (it was the first of the month), and while worship occurred, it certainly was not temple worship. The context simply does not allow the application that it is supposed to be typical.

    To state that I see nothing wrong with having a nursery is also true, but I see absolutely no mandate that it be used or that children be absolutely quiet.
  15. tlharvey7

    tlharvey7 Puritan Board Freshman

    i love hearing babies in church.... i think Jesus liked it as well
  16. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The one problem with nurseries is that, by necessity, they take some of 'those who understand' away from the preaching. I think each church needs to weigh the pros and cons and establish a policy that fits them best. This policy should not turn into 'tradition'. The church should revisit such decisions often to make sure the power of preaching is meeting its maximum potential in the church.
  17. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    One more thing that I'd like to add. If "piping the sermon" into a nursery or cry room is sufficient, then how about over the internet? I see little if any difference between having a sermon piped into a nursery and having someone stay home and listen to whomever on the internet.

    All those arguments for not having an internet church are the same for those that would be in the nursery week after week. The fewer people in the nursery, the better (though if you have a nursery, then it should be shared by as many people as possible so that few are out more than once or twice a year -- it should especially be manned by those that don't like to hear little children in the service if you ask me!).

    I also love to hear children in the service, and while I might be upset with an older child that is not paying any heed to the sermon, I am happy to hear the sound of a baby in a worship service. I do not know when a child becomes aware of what is being said around them, but I know it is generally much sooner than when they can articulate it. I would rather have all the members of a church in the worship service than keep any of them out.
  18. TrueConvert

    TrueConvert Puritan Board Freshman

    So appropriately succinct, I am thinking through my stance on this again. Thanks!
  19. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    If a child is not old enough to take communion, and has not reached what the parents consider to be the age of faith and understanding for that sacrament, are they really mentally capable of having their mind well renewed in faith by an adult sermon?

    If they cannot eat the Lords supper, can they really "feast upon the word" any better in with the pastor's sermon, than with kid appropriate curriculums? If they do not have evidence of conversion and faith for communion, can they recieve the word spoken with faith? Don't we need to listen with faith?

    I don't know, but I have always thought that the singing and prayer part of worship they do get something out of. But renewing the mind needs to be age appropriate, whether math, science, language, or theology. And faith is necessary for listening to the word preached.

    My personal opinion is to let them stay in when they start taking communion but not before, its just a waste of coloring book pages and crayons and a distraction to everybody else.
  20. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    The logical conclusion to some of your points would be to exclude unbelievers from the sermon as well.

    Plus, do children benefit from seeing the sacraments modeled? We have had two children (in our tiny congregation) ask questions about the Lord's Supper and expressing a deepening understanding of faith (for the one who is capable).
  21. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Exo 12:24-26
    Not all are going to understand, and that is explicitly okay. Passover was explicitly for "you and your children" without lower age limit.

    Again, worship is not what we get out of it. It is given to God, and we benefit from it only as a peripheral issue -- yes, we benefit from it (at least some of us) but that is beside the point. The pastor I would think often does not learn anything new in hearing his sermon preached (he hopefully knows what he is going to say and so much more before he speaks that when he preaches, it will add little to nothing), yet he is worshipping in the service as much as anyone else.
  22. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    You prove way too much. Find me one passage in the Bible where there is an explicit worship service, where babies are present. Explicitly. You cannot, by the rule you have just made. And you have also gutted the proof of the "Jesus suffered the children" proof text, since that was much less a worship service than that of Nehemiah 8.

    There is a principle here that you dodge and refuse to address by generalities like "worship is not what we get out of it." No one is saying that. But you refuse to address the issue of the mind, the reading of Scripture in the vulgar (common) language and the Reformed view of the means of grace.
  23. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    This also proves too much. Being admitted to the Table implies a level of understanding (not just a capacity to understand, but more beyond that) prior to admission. There is a huge difference between understanding simple things appropriate to one's age, and an inability to understand language at all.

    I make it a point to have portions and applications of my preaching understandable to small children.
  24. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Fred, I'm not going to fall into a trap of trying to prove that an argument from silence is valid. There are also no instances of explicit mention of the baptism of infants, but I know you won't insist that means we should not baptize infants. Though toward the end, you will find there is a command to bring infants into the worship at least once to which you will agree.

    I think you missed something of what I said initially ... much of what you said I agree. My point is that there is reason for not having paedo communion that is beyond not having an example of it. The LS requires discerning the body and blood of the Lord, and so requires faith on the part of the individual.

    There is no requirement of faith on the part of the individual for baptism (and I take it that you would agree that a baptism for infants is only done in a worship service, so if you must have one example of a worship service with an infant, you have it there ... along with every circumcision in the OT). Of course you might want to argue that these are the exception ... that we bring our children in to be baptized, then relegate them to nursery for years after having them in the service once. So then there is a requirement for infants to be in a worship service at least once (even our credo baptist brethren would have a dedication of an infant in a worship service). But then those that say infants have no place in worship would then kick them out.

    Again, while I agree with much of what you post, I do not think that worship only occurs because of understanding. Long before my children understand the language of the apostles' creed, they know and can recite the words. Long before they understand the Bible, it is read to them. Long before they understand the words to "A Mighty Fortress" they sing it. Long before they understand why we give an offering, they place their offering in the collection. Are they participating in worship at their baptism? You bet they are! Are they participating in the offering? Absolutely! Are they hearing the word of God? Do they recite the creeds? Do they sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs?

    They worship God. Not only through what they understand, but also through what they do not know. They knew nothing of the meaning of baptism (at between 10 days and 2 months [when we were in a church plant]). They participated in worship then, and I see no reason why they should not participate all the way along.

    Does that mean that there shouldn't be a nursery? No. Does that mean that there aren't times when parents have little choice but to have a child in nursery? No. Take an autistic child into a service, and if they are having a highly autistic incident, they will melt down with nothing to do but remove them from the service (all the while them saying "I want to worship God! I want to worship God!) What I do not think acceptable is that with no extenuating circumstance that people think it okay to warehouse their children away from the worship of God.

    It would be good for those in the church to help parents keep children in the worship, but the norm is to help parents keep children out of worship. I'd rather see volunteers that will sit with a little one and help keep them under control in worship than have nursery workers outside the worship.
  25. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Plus, our children are also just aware of what we do on Sundays. They are aware that we pray, sing, read, listen, and partake of communion every Sunday. They see that the things we do at home in family worship are modeled after something. (All but the communion!) Should we wait until they are old enough to "comprehend" to start family worship?

    However, I do like Pastor Greco's point about comprehension mattering, and I appreciate the way he connected it to ours not being a faith of mysticism, because I do believe that I have probably considered my children to be receiving the means of grace earlier than what was possible--BUT, I also believe that I wouldn't know for certain when they are able to start receiving them, so it is a safe choice, in the very least.

    -----Added 10/19/2009 at 09:25:07 EST-----

    Great idea!!!
  26. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Indeed, not!

    Discipline established and accomplished in the home, will reflect in public.

    God forbid!

    Proper biblical discipline at home should prevent public discipline. Spanking children in the context of worship is very unwise.

    A profound, AMEN!
  27. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    You don't have my son.
  28. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    scottish lass, I think unbelievers understand the sermons perfectly. They may think it is a load of rubbish, but they comprehend what is being said. Does a two year old? It isn't the same at all.

    Just to clarify, we had our kids in for singing/prayer/communion/scripture reading. I didn't mean I thought toddlers should be out the whole time, I meant during the sermon. If teaching from the pulpit is to renew the mind, I think the way the mind of a three year old and the mind of a 45 year old gets renewed is a little bit different. By maybe 8-12 depending on the kid they start grasping deeper theology from the pulpit, but the average toddler, well, mine were in the 99th percentile on all those CAT tests in school, they are smart, but they were not ready for sermons as toddlers. Not at all.

    Our kids took communion very young though. By age 4 if I recall correctly. (before our PCA days and it was OK in those churches).They all gave every evidence of having true love and faith for the Lord and were aware of sin in a way appropriate to their age. (I tend to think they may have had more simplistic faith and repentance at the table than us grownups did!) I don't see how the table can be denied to those who are capable of understanding sermons. It is easier to understand communion than the average good Reformed sermon. At least that is how I see it......
  29. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Are you admitting to physically punishing your child in church, routinely and repeatedly?

    How are you dealing with your son in private and out of sight of others?
  30. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Quite frankly, I don't think this is any of your business. His job as a parent isn't to live up to your expectations.
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