Get away from me kid, you're bothering me." We'd never use this line--a W.C. Fields classic--on a bothersome child at church. But even the most patient person can get fed up when a 4-year-old chooses a moving sermon as the time to run across a pew or to crawl on the floor inspecting shoes and socks.
We're distracted, maybe a bit angry. So we shoot the parent a condemning look, knowing that even the best moms and dads have times when their children are beyond control.
The hard part is remembering that every child, from the crying infant to the crawling 4-year-old, should be welcomed to service with as much joy and enthusiasm as any adult.
But more than being told they are welcomed, children should be shown that there is something for them at worship. Many of our congregations take this to heart. Some add child-friendly elements to their regular service, while others create a liturgy just for children (see page 32).
If you ask adults who have stopped going to church why, you'll often hear, "I didn't feel like there was something for me." A child who misbehaves in worship may be saying the same thing.
Instead of unhelpful glares that cause embarrassment and add to your frustration, try sharing an understanding smile or finding ways to make children feel included.
It certainly couldn't hurt.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers