Children in Church: Trial-by-Diaper

Rachel Mendell

One woman encourages those who brave the terrors of worship with children.

I look around and count babies, and I feel a little envy. My youngest is four now. I look around and see the young, fussy children struggling to stay still in church, and I am thankful. Not for being done with the trial-by-fire, but thankful that there are other parents besides myself that brave the terrors of worship with children. Those days for us are not so far behind, but they began over 13 years ago. (I count all the kicking in utero that made it impossible to sit through a sermon.)

I remember the frustration well. Nursing every two hours (in church it’s every 10 minutes), teething (moaning always started 45 seconds after the sermon began), baby boredom, and potty training (no control on Sundays). I prayed for long naps during the sermon I could never remember. (I usually wasn’t there.) I also felt hugely guilty and/or embarrassed for noisy or misbehaving children (during our trip to the communion rail).

Many Sundays I wanted to stay home. Some Sundays were so difficult that I was sad when we weren’t immediately congratulated upon entering the building. Were we organized enough? Did we get up early enough? Is this all worth it?

I’m thankful God gave us at least one person who would encourage us. One wonderful person who made it a point to know the children’s names, shake Dave’s hand, and grab the one with the most chocolate on his face. (Mom’s clothes equal napkins.)

Was all that work worth it? Yes! When I see my children follow the service in their hymnals, or sing a hymn they remember, or fold their hands for the Lord’s Prayer, or ask when do they get to go to communion, it’s all worth it.

To all the blessed morns and dads with babies screaming God’s praises in church we say, “Keep up the good work.” Continue in God’s trenches. Look to the future by watching (for two seconds) those of us who have survived the trial-by-diaper. We love the young noise, and we are praying for you.


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