How to survive a church service with [your] small children!

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A. Suggestions For In The Assembly

1. 0-2 yrs sit near back. 2+ yrs sit near the front of the auditorium, next to aisle.

2. Expect your child to sit quietly.

3. Do not pass children from pew to pew during worship service.

4. Be certain that your child uses the washroom and gets a drink before worship begins.

5. Talk to the child about being quiet before services begin.

6. Use sign language. A parent's correction is often more disturbing than the child's behavior.

7. Attend every service, gospel meetings, ladies classes & use as opportunities to train your child.

8. It may be helpful to give a child a soft toy (i.e. cloth rubber or plastic toy) to occupy him.

9. Learn to overlook small annoyances.

10. Make trips out unpleasant enough that they will be few and far between.

11. Do not leave your child in the care of other children.

12. Avoid allowing the child to become excited immediately before worship.

13. Be an example. Don't "visit" with those sitting near you during worship.

14. Do not allow your child to play on the floor of the auditorium.

15. Criticism will come whether or not you discipline your child. Do what has to be done.

16. Don't make excuses for your child or yourself. (Adapted from Calm or Chaos by Ruth Hale)

B. Age/Behaviour chart

See also: Mental, Emotional, Social Development Of Children By Age: Chart


What To Do And Expect


Focus on food, rocking & movement, a soft toy will provide eye and touch stimulation. Clean up any mess. You are setting a good example and are encouraging many.


Continue with above except for food. Begin practicing to sit still. Don't let them wander around reserve soft toys for assembly time only. Remember your actions are teaching your children!


Can learn to sit quietly, sing, pray & give. Teach to face forward. Teach your children that we are here because we want to be.


Can learn to go to washroom before assembly. Bring less toys & more books. Teach them to keep their hands to themselves. Teach them 'we' are here to learn about God.


A clipboard with a pen that clicks closed will keep them occupied. Don't allow them to draw until the preacher begins his sermon. Teach them that 'they' are here to learn about God.


Buy easy read Bible as they begin grade 1. Child can start listening to the preacher. Have them check each time a certain word is used in sermon. Ask the preacher for this word. Teach them that they can only learn about God if they will listen.


Can be taught to listen. Ask questions after service about what they learned. Talk about lesson with them. Be positive & encourage them. Teach them they need to learn how to use Bible.


The children can be expected to pay full attention, even taking notes. Teach them that they can find out the answers to their questions and their problems from God's Word.

C. Article: Trouble On Sunday!

After Linda and I married ten years ago we began to attend the Belview Heights church in Birmingham. Since we had both been Christians for several years, Sunday had always been special; but our marriage made us seem to look forward to it even more. Sunday was not only the Lord's day and afforded time for worship and fellowship with the saints in the assemblies, but also was used as a convenient time to have other Christians into our apartment and to accept invitations into the homes of others. There was time to visit the sick or attend an occasional singing at another congregation.

About six months after we began to attend Belview Heights, I was asked to drive about forty miles to the south of Birmingham to preach for a small congregation called Pea Ridge. Sunday continued to be very special. Even though we were spending over two hours in travel we enjoyed the journey, worshipping with those Saint's, spending the afternoon in their homes, and my first opportunity to preach regularly made it all a grand experience.

The following summer we moved to Pea Ridge. I taught school and worked with the saints there. They were all very encouraging to me, but I depended mostly on I.inda for a critic of my sermons. If my sermon flopped, she would tell when others would not. Going home from services I was always in for a lesson in English grammar and pronunciation, and sometimes (when I had used the blackboard) a spelling session. She could tell me where the lesson dragged, when I should have stopped, and what points could have been made easier to understand. What amazes me now, as I look back, was her ability to point out these faults, yet I could still arrive at home feeling like the best 22-year-o1d preacher around.

Sundays continued to be like this for the next three years; then another person entered our lives who abruptly changed things. Our son, Chad, brought unspeakable joy into our lives, but he brought TROUBLE ON SUNDAY.

When I gained a son, I lost my best critic. Chad was in his first worship service when he was five days old. while it was very rare for Linda and Chad to miss, it was also rare for Linda to get much out of the service. When she was not out of the auditorium changing a diaper or quieting our son, she was wrestling, picking up, feeding, entertaining: anything to keep him from disturbing others. Chad was actually well behaved, but things did not necessarily get easier for Linda as he became a toddler.

By this time I was preaching for the church at Huffman in Birmingham, a congregation of 250. We had always been used to sitting near the front and both thought there was less distraction for us and Chad there than in the back. But this decision almost always demanded an embarrassing walk down the aisle in the middle of the service, and more times than not (since the back pews were always packed), a walk back up to the front after Chad had been disciplined or tended to.

Just when Linda was feeling like she was worshipping again, our second child, Misty, was born. I don't ever remember her taking a nap in church. Since the nursery was often overcrowded, Linda spent much of the service in the foyer or walking the halls of the classroom building. Not only could she not be a critic of my sermon, most of the time she could not even remember the topic. Singing was difficult, listening to the sermon was out of the question, and it was even a problem to observe the Lord's Supper properly. This TROUBLE ON SUNDAY was a major problem, but somehow we managed to find room for some humor. I used to tell Linda she had become a heathen since the children came.

Was our TROUBLE ON SUNDAY worth it? YES! Would it be better for young parents just to stay home on Sunday nights and not come in the morning for Bible study? Would it be better for one parent to stay home with the children while the other attended and got something out of the service? Even though Linda saw little immediate fruit for her labor and sacrifice, she knew she was doing what was right. Our children would grow up so that they would never know anything but worship and Bible study on the Lord's Day. Time set aside for God would become as much a part of their nature as eating and playing. And while our children did misbehave and still do occasionally, we saw other parents who did not take their children until they were old enough to behave, and their children acted much worse.

Chad is now six and our reward is much more frequent. We now live in Colorado where the church is made up of only 20 people. We meet in a rented conference room after beginning in our home. Chad takes an unusual joy in getting up chairs, distributing songbooks, helping other children find page numbers, leading a song or a prayer in a children's class. Misty and Chad both look forward to meeting with the saints and their children. There are still problems that result in their being punished, but there are now two children in this world who already know the significance of the Lord's Day. Yes looking back the trouble on Sunday was well worth it!

Adapted from Darrell Hymel. Endorsed by Steve Rudd


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