The Sofa is pleased to share this guest blog from Kate from Londonwithatoddler.com. Kate describes herself as a “mother, writer, thinker. Granted, the kind of things I think about are along the lines of “What’s that smell?” or “Where can I buy chocolate around here?”, so maybe not that much of a thinker. But I am definitely the first two”. Recently she has been thinking about the many different ways kids could disrupt Church Services.
Children in church is always one of those contentious issues that puts people on edge – parents are constantly anticipating the next cry of “But what IS a virgin?” during carol services, meeting leaders are always keeping a close eye on where they leave that cordless microphone in case it falls into the small hands and the pensioners are torn between cooing at the cute baby and wishing that they would stop crying because it really interferes with their hearing aid frequency.
As with all things though, isn’t it the unknown and unpredictable that causes the most worry? So, with that in mind I have spent some time studying the habits of children in church and have put together this handy age-by-age guide of just how children will disrupt your service. Once you can predict their movements, you can relax.
0-1 Contrary to popular belief, a newborn baby is one of the easiest types of child to take into a service. They sleep all the time. If they’re in a sling, being soothed by the latest Hillsong drum fill, they will barely open an eye for the whole service, much to the disappointment of the old ladies cooing over them. But as they get older, the capacity for mayhem increases. Maybe they’ll cry a bit. Maybe they’ll need a feed, exposing the whole church – and especially the worship band at the front- to the possibility of a nipple of some kind being flashed about. There may also be some suspicious smells. But they’re child’s play compared to toddlers…
1-3 The toddler. Comes with the advantage that they can be bribed into near-silence with a packet of Hula Hoops. Comes with the disadvantage that they will throw a tantrum if the packet is the wrong colour or they don’t have the right sippy cup. Prone to hiding under the altar/welcome desk and arguing with each other.
3-5 The age of maximum destruction. The world record for the number of times a 3-year-old has run around the entire congregation in one service currently stands at 5500. Depending on the length of your service, that’s between 30 and 92 circuits per minute. Consider that for a second. They also enjoy playing the piano/drums/percussion/anything they can get their hands on as loudly and frequently as possible. Keen on doing actions at the front but almost impossible to remove once they’ve taken to the stage. Never let them near a microphone unless you want the congregation regaled with tales about dinosaurs or mangled versions of the “Octonauts” theme tune.
5-10 School age. Where children can theoretically sit quietly and pay attention to someone talking for literally minutes on end. Pity that they squeeze every ounce of their “sitting still” ability out during the working week. So, they’ll spend Sunday mornings complaining that they’re bored and asking when Kids’ Church starts. Then they’ll find another 45 minutes’ worth of good behaviour for the Childrens’ workers before melting down during coffee time and forcing their parents to abandon their much-needed cup of hot caffeine.
10+ The dreaded Youth. A time of drink, drugs and wild living…and that’s just the Youth Pastor. Expect the worst and it probably won’t happen, but they will almost certainly fall asleep during the preach after a heavy night of partying/video gaming/Bible studying. Teenagers are not natural morning people. Employ a few drum shields to deflect the worst of the snoring.
So now you’re prepared….let the little children come to you.