Not At Church

Featured Writer: Stephanie Taylor

 Church and Stars

While at church one Sunday, I found myself in a peculiar situation.  Every ounce of instinct in my body was telling me to scream, or at the very least jump from my seat.  While those would normally have been appropriate responses to being startled, I didn’t think the pastor would have appreciated such an interruption to his homily.

The reason my heart had skipped a beat is actually pretty humorous.  A little boy from about 4 rows back had escaped the peripheral glances of his mother and had army crawled under the pews to carry out a sneak attack and grab my ankle.  All in all, it was an amazing feat, and once over the shock, I was impressed.

 Greenstone Church pews

In the next moment, I winked at the boy and motioned for him to come sit with me.  I dug through my purse, found some pens that were usually reserved for grading papers, and the two of us sat through the remainder of the service drawing pictures and taking turns winning Tic-Tac-Toe.

What really struck me that day were the words from the gentleman sitting on my other side.  As the young boy emerged from his slither, the gentleman gruffed under his breath, “We don’t do that kind of thing here, not at church!”

His statement made me wonder if we are taught to behave certain ways simply because the building requires it?  It made me think about why and how we are taught to behave.  I firmly believe that as Christ followers, Jesus is with us everywhere.  He told us he would be with us always.

It makes more sense to model, not just for children and young people, but for all people the fact that certain behaviors are correct because of Christ in us and around us, not simply because it is a rule.

These thoughts have caused me to look at the scripture Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go…”  through a new lens.  The verse does not say, train a child in the way of the church.  That’s not to say that the teachings of the church are unimportant, but that “the way he should go” training must have real life application and crossover.  God in us compels us to behave certain ways and choose particular things no matter where we are; church, school, home, the movies.

There are no doubt courtesies that are extended in some situations that cannot be applied to all (running around without a shirt on is ok at home, but not at the neighbor’s house, etc).  However, I hope that as the adults doing the teaching that we are able to instruct that God wants us to be the same person in all places and situations, asking first and foremost “What would be pleasing to God?”  I think all of us, adults and children alike would benefit a great deal from making that more of a habit.

Children do and say silly things, and I love them for it.  The last thought that went through my mind was of Jesus instructing the disciples to let the children come to him (Matthew 19:14).  I bet he would have been ok with an army crawl or two.


Stephanie is a missionary currently living in South Central Kentucky.  She is a teacher by trade and has a 4-fold ministry to Instruct (to teach), Inform (to preach), Invest (to give), and Increase (the harvest).
 1 Chronicles 16:23-24
images via flickr: Andreas L, Eric Alixx Rogers

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10 Responses to “Not At Church”

  1. July 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I can’t imagine your surprise when he grabbed you. Our kid is a total wiggle worm in church (though he hasn’t crawled under a pew yet). I agree totally!

  2. July 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    How funny. I have three little ones and the last is very very active. I am grateful for the times when others have helped me entertain the children.When I had my first child I thought for sure I would have well behaved children in church. I have since settled down and realized that life gets in the way of perfect. But children are perfect in Gods eyes.

    I remember one day getting a look from an older gentleman. The look said “not in our church” I was hurt. Then I realized that We need church because we are all sinners. Church is not for the perfect, but for those who are willing to come unto christ and be perfected in him. Thanks for the story.

    • July 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      Melanie, I like how you put it “life gets in the way of perfect,” most definitely. Yes, sometimes the elderly have little patience for that kind of stuff, I think it’s generational. (maybe).

  3. July 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Funny! I love the way you responded to him. I also agree with you, the army crawl probably tickled the Lord too…its too bad the older gentlemen forgot what it was like to be a child, he missed a great opportunity there. Thanks for sharing, I loved this little story.

  4. July 18, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Funny 🙂

    I am of two minds with kids in church.
    Older kids,, grade school age, should learn to be respectful of others, in or out of church.. parents that won’t use the childrens church each week , where they can learn, play games & have a treat, should then expect their kids to be somewhat quiet.. with that said, when my grandson (9) visits, he gets bored.. our church has a kids section printed in the bulletin 🙂 so that keeps him busy the 20 min. the minister speaks 🙂

    on the other hand. I LOVE to hear a baby cry in church,,( w/o babies , the church will die.)
    I always make a point to assure the mothers the baby was ok.. :-[)
    Hopefully the mother herself was taught manners 🙂 & will take the baby out if it goes on a REALLY long time 🙂

    SO………….teach respect.. always.. never should a child disrupt ANY service , be it church , or a concert for too great a time..
    but also be mindful of the young mothers & the work & effort it took for her to bring her kids to church.. 🙂 not an easy thing at all ! 🙂

    you certainly handled the little boy in a loving manner 🙂

    God Bless..
    PS . some churches offer kids bags at the entrance.. filled with a color book, small toys & colors.. 🙂 returned OF course at the end of service 🙂

    • July 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

      Gracie, That is so great what your church has set up for kids. We usually take them books, coloring books….. I was in church one day and a baby started crying and the pastor said “can someone please help this family (pointing to the ushers).” Since then my husband has been paranoid about our baby crying.

  5. July 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    wow, that would b e hard.. To have been called out like that.. My huby would prob say.. guess we won’t go there anymore 🙂
    it’s always a fine line.
    I like how our church offers a great children’s church & also a great nursery close by.. always well staffed with other mom’s from the church.
    you just have to have a heart for children ..

  6. July 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I agree, we should all ask ourselves if our actions would please God. That is what is all boils down to. I am very thankful that our church welcomes children and families. Of course as a parent of four it is my responsibility to teach them appropriate behavior, but I also appreciate that it is understood that kids are kids, and you can’t “control” them. Life happens, run with it! I want my boys to look forward to going to church each week and not think of it as a stuffy, strict atmosphere. I want them to see GOD, not a list of rules and regulations. Thank you for linking up to The Sunday Showcase.

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