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Children are invited to participate in all parts of the church service. We enjoy your little ones and they are part of the Church Family at Trinity! If you prefer, we do have a nursery available from 9-11:30.

We have a Soft Space! This is a special area in the front of the church where children can watch the Eucharist. There are quiet toys for them to keep their little hands busy. 

Dear Parents With Young Children in Church
By: Jamie Bruesehoff

You are doing something really, really important. I know it's not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper. I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone's eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

I know you're wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.

When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn't about bible study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together. When you are here, I have hope that these pews won't be empty in 10 years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it's too late. They are learning that worship is important.

I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs, I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she's never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup, determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary. I hear the echos of "Amens" just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can't see my own children learning because, well, it's one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.

I know how hard it is to do what you're doing, but I want you to know it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people... and even on those weeks when you can't see the little moments, it matters to your children.

It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don't need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly-timed, depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.

I know it's hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family -- with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy -- are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.

To the moms who take their squirrelly kids to church
Dear Mamas of little ones,

I sat behind you in church this week.

I saw you struggle with holding two kiddos because the one in your arms wasn’t happy when another one wanted to join.

I saw your son completely messing up your hair.

I saw you and your husband hand the toddler (who had a cold) back and forth because he couldn’t decide which lap he liked best.

I saw the look on your face as you jumped up to get the son who crawled under the pew and ended up behind you.

I saw you switch spots with other kids to stand next to the one who was being a stinker, the one who thought you didn’t actually see him. (Yay for eyes in the back and side of your head!)

I saw you leave for what you thought were endless bathroom and water breaks.

I saw your daughter stick her fingers in her ears and loudly proclaim, “I don’t like this song!”

I saw the desperation on your face when church went a bit longer than usual because you were on borrowed time.

My kids saw it too. My 11-year-old daughter leaned over and asked, “Do you miss that?” I smiled and said, “Sometimes.” And by sometimes I think I meant not really. It wasn’t that long ago that I was you. My son got so many lollipops each service that he might as well have had an IV. (I did it because after every song he would loudly ask, “DONE?!” because he was ready to go home.) My Mom-bag was packed with dolls and books and snacks. My hair and clothes were disheveled.

Now I’m in the stage where we sit together without shuffling positions. My kids sing along, and we talk about the message on the way home. I’m at the stage where I see each of my kiddos blossoming an independent relationship with Jesus—one that is becoming theirs, not mine or my husband’s.

I tell you this, not to brag but to encourage you to hang in there. Sometimes worship feels five hours long, but I promise that in five years it will feel like you blinked. You will look next to you and see kiddos who got themselves dressed and who can make it through without crayons.

As my children and I watched you and smiled (we thought your kids were adorable!), something else dawned on me. God saw you, and he was smiling too. He loves the sacrifices you make to get his children to his house. He loves that you sacrifice what would mean more free time, less hassle, and less exhaustion to keep meeting with the people who encourage you. He is your faithful Father and could not be more proud of you.

I know there are moments when you get in the car feeling like everything went wrong that day. There is grace for you. Jesus (a 12-year-old who went to his Father’s house even without his parents) paid for the days you lost your patience and your kids were obstinate. Thanks to Jesus, God simply sees you as his righteous holy child who is taking care of his other righteous holy children.

Soon enough you will be sitting behind parents with little ones, wondering where the time went. You’ll look over at the kiddo who is taller than you and thank God that he was faithful when the kids were little and that he is faithful right now. Then you’ll pray because you’re about to enter the high school years and you trust he’ll be faithful then too.

After church you’ll walk up to the new batch of young moms and encourage them—because you’ve been there.

And if you need a little encouragement before this Sunday rolls around, click here to read Pastor Jeske's 5 reasons why he thinks you should keep your kids in church for the whole service.

Written by Linda Buxa

Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She is thankful for the people who reassured her that children’s noise was a blessing, that it brought life and energy to their little church. 

Babies in Church
On my last two plane flights I was trapped near families that were traveling with very small children. Flying is unpleasant enough these days for grown-ups, and so I am not surprised that a toddler would find the noise, cramped conditions, flight turbulence, and changing cabin air pressure very stressful and would use the ancient response of screaming to demonstrate displeasure. I was trapped. Everyone was trapped. The screeching ricocheted around the narrow walls of our flying tube. I fantasized about remedies. 

If you are a regular viewer of Time of Grace, you will occasionally hear background noise like the sirens of ambulances and fire trucks (the station is only a block away). You will also hear child noise from time to time. Does that bother you? Do crying children in church bother you as much as they do me on a plane? Have you ever brought your own kids to a service and gotten The Look when they made child noises? Have you ever given The Look to a parent trying to manage a little one?

When I view other Christian television programs, I am amazed that every seat is filled with adults only. Obviously those organizations have opted for a different solution—staffed nursery care for newborns and toddlers, kid church for the grade-schoolers, and teen church for the teens. There is great logic to that system, and it works on many levels. A pastor can speak about adult subjects like sexuality more easily when there are no children in the audience.

But I am pretty old school on this issue and advocate for children, even babies, in church for the whole service. Here are some reasons why:

Families are fragmented and segmented enough in our crazy lives. An hour in worship is something that the entire family can do together.
If the whole family experiences the same worship service, they can all talk about the same thing on the way home.
Some parts of a service change each week, but the repeated parts (which may seem boring to adults sometimes) like the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed and liturgical songs give children an early opportunity to memorize things that will anchor their souls for the rest of their lives.
People who have no kids or whose kids are grown love to be around yours. Your children in church will bring far more joy than stress.
Knowing that I am speaking each Sunday not only to adults but to children compels me to keep at least part of my message simple and plain. The adults appreciate that too.
So please be prepared to hear occasional toddler screams in the background on Time of Grace.

What’s been your experience with children in church?

Written by Pastor Mark Jeske

Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus Lutheran Church on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.