One of the difficulties of a growing congregation is the influx of young children. Children are naturally energetic and, without proper training, can become problematic for members trying to worship in the services. We must be very careful, though, when discussing how to handle this difficulty so that we behave in such a way that God will be pleased with our actions. This article will attempt to provide solutions to this problem under the umbrella of the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:30-31).
How can the upset member deal with someone else’s noisy child?
1) Remind yourself of the love you have for that child.
We don’t sing “Jesus loves the little children” for no reason. The disciples of Jesus may have felt some of the same frustration you are feeling when seeing a multitude of children headed for Jesus–that same Jesus who held the words of eternal life (John 6:68)! The adults of the time would have been able to listen more fully without those energetic children around; and yet, Jesus rebuked his disciples for trying to send them away (Matthew 19:13-14). Those beautiful children are the future of the Church. They need to be nurtured in the assembly, not forbidden from it.
2) Remind yourself of the love you have for the parents.
Rearing a child up in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) is a tall order. No one said it was going to be easy. At times, it can feel like a real burden. Part of loving each other is to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). That means, at times, that you may be inconvenienced because of someone else’s children–and you’ve got to be okay with that. It is important for those parents, as much as anyone else, to be in the worship assembly to be encouraged (Hebrews 10:24-25), not criticized for things over which they have no control. Kids make noise.
3) Use the distraction of a noisy child as an opportunity to grow.
Mothers get used to the random sounds that children make. In a lot of ways, they have learned to tune them out in order to focus on things that are more important. People who do not have children, or have not had children in the home for some time, tend to notice the noise a lot sooner than the parents, who are focused on listening to the lesson. If they can do it, so can you. Your soul is ultimately your own responsibility (Philippians 2:12). You have to train yourself to ignore the distractions which may pull you away from your path to heaven (1 Corinthians 10:13; Mark 4:1-20).
How can parents deal with members who are upset by their noisy children?
1) Remind yourself of the love you have for that member.
It can be very frustrating balancing the need for our own spirituality, the training up of children, and our need to help others grow around us. It is a constant battle; but, it is a battle that we must not surrender (Revelation 2:10). In our battle to survive, we cannot let ourselves become a stumbling block to another brother or sister in Christ (Romans 14:13-23). All of the above arguments I’ve written to the member upset by a noisy child are true; but, you can only control your own actions. If taking your child out sooner would help another member to grow, do it (Romans 12:18).
2) See the difficulties as an opportunity to grow.
If someone comes to you about your children being a distraction to them, instead of getting defensive, rejoice! First of all, it means a brother who is weak in this area is coming to you in a Biblical manner to find help and resolution (Matthew 18:15). It is not often easy to go to someone because you don’t like something they are doing. Whether it is a ‘matter of doctrine’ or the color of the carpet–we don’t like confrontation in the church! Unfortunately, it is through trial and tribulation that we not only grow individually, but also collectively, closer to God and each other (James 1:2-12).
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires…. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” – James 1:19-20,26