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All One in the Church #2: Children

Churches are good for families: from toddler groups to Sunday school and youth weekends, we provide for all ages. We all can help make life easier for families if we are flexible and plan thoughtfully.
By CARMEL PAGE
Read Time: 2 minutes

Babies ruin everything. Your figure, sleep, carpets, routines, finances, social life and peace of mind. Everything!

I know this because I had one, and even though he had done all of this, we then chose to have another. We were very blessed but not everyone is as fortunate.

Children are a gift from God, and we must treasure them and support their parents.

Not everyone finds someone to have a family with and not all can conceive. Not all children are healthy, not all children have long lives, not all children are conceived in happiness and not all parents stay together. In fact, it is hard to think of a more emotive subject than children and families. People love children, but they stir up many other emotions too.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Churches are good for families: from toddler groups to Sunday school and youth weekends, we provide for all ages. I believe my children have benefited greatly from our ecclesial life. But I remember thinking how much parents need spiritual stamina because we missed many services, and parenting is hard. We all can help make life easier for families if we are flexible and plan thoughtfully.

  • Families may arrive late. Walking into a silent hall can be daunting. Why don’t we welcome latecomers from the platform and thank them for their effort in getting to the meeting?
  • Our Memorial Services are designed around the spiritual needs of adults, but if our members have children, we must accept them too. Telling parents how much joy you feel at hearing their baby gurgle and play will help them to be more relaxed during the service.
  • A comfortable nursery, well equipped with toys, where parents can listen to the service helps to support young families. Do you ever offer childcare so parents can enjoy worshipping together?
  • A few lively action songs may help the little ones. Giving them a few minutes to share their Sunday school lesson will help them feel special and know they belong.
  • After Meeting, children who have been still and quiet will need to run around. Plan a safe space where they can do this and offer to keep an eye on them so that parents get some much-needed social time.
  • Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility. Have you childproofed your church? Do you store cleaning products, thumbtacks and the toolbox safely?
  • If a child has a disability, then the whole ecclesial family needs to educate themselves about it. Tactless questions can unknowingly cause much sorrow for the child and parents. Could you arrange a fundraiser for a relevant charity to show your support and spread insight?

HELP NEEDED!

We discovered it takes one adult to care for one baby and a second adult to care for the adult who is caring for the baby. I cannot work out how any single parent manages with a newborn. Even getting to church must be an exhausting task for them.

Some parents may also feel judged for being single. Nevertheless, everyone needs to know they and their children are loved and valued. And in the middle of the hurly-burly of family-focused activity how do we make space for those who couldn’t have, or lost, a child?

Parents often talk about how tiring family life is. This does not give comfort to those who crave that exhaustion of having a little person totally dependent on them. One thing we all can be sensitive about is the practice of asking women about their fertility:

  • “Isn’t it time you had one of your own?”
  • “Are you planning to have a family or are you a career girl?”

How did insensitive comments like these ever become normal? Children are a gift from God, and we must treasure them and support their parents. They give us new aspirations, new ways of looking at the world, new laughs, new joys and new hope for the future. And as Jesus himself said,

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37 NIV).

Carmel Page,
Sheffield, UK

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