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40 Things I say at Church Every Week

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Church is hard. Can I just say that? I love church. I long to be at church and it restores me. Except for the part where I get super frustrated trying to contain my kids (ages 9, 7, 6, 4, 2, 1) and help them engage in the service. Let me know if any of this sounds familiar to you:

“No, you can’t sit with your friends right now. We sit together as a family.”

“Who tracked mud in? Where did you even find mud between the car and church?”

“Don’t put your feet on the pew.”

“You can’t have coffee. You’re four years-old.”

“What is on your shirt? How can you possibly already have a stain on your shirt?”

“If you’re old enough to read, you’re old enough to sing.”

“WE’RE PRAYING.” (said in a whisper shout)

“I don’t know where you put your pen. I don’t take your stuff.”

“Don’t eat the bulletin. The bulletin is not food.”

“I’m trying to hear the pastor. I don’t want to talk about basketball right now.”

“Why are you crying?”

“Don’t kick the pew in front of you! Those people can feel it when you do that!”

“Stop picking at that!”

“During the greeting time, it is not polite to growl at people.”

“You already had breakfast at home, you don’t need a donut. Donuts are for college students that don’t have parents to make them eat breakfast.”

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“No taking money out of the offering plate. That’s God’s money and He might need it to buy more donuts for the college students.”

“When we wear a dress, we can’t put our legs over our head.”

“Why are you touching him? There’s no reason for you to be touching him.”

“WHY ARE YOU CRYING?”

“This is confession time. If you can’t think of something to confess, I can think of five things for you.”

“I’m sorry you didn’t touch the offering plate when it went by, but it’s all gone now. Seriously, you don’t need to cry about that.”

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“You don’t need water right now. We have water at home you can have later.”

“Seriously, NO WATER. Remember how you spilled it everywhere last time? I sat in a puddle of it and I didn’t know?”

“HOW DO YOU HAVE WATER? If I said no, you don’t go ask Dad!”

“Go get the paper towels. . . ”

“We do not color in the pew Bible.”

“You can play hangman, but NO BATHROOM WORDS.”

“Why are you under the pew? Get. Up.”

“No, I didn’t pinch you. I was helping you up. Stop. Crying.”

“I don’t know this song either. Just fake it.”

“Communion is not snack time.”

“WE DO NOT COLOR IN THE PEW BIBLE.”

“Yes, you look very cute today. Good job. Now no more talking.”

“Are you wearing make-up? Where did you get make-up? For future reference, lipstick doesn’t go on your eyelids.”

“I know what it sounded like, but it wasn’t that. It was just the sound of the pew squeaking. Stop laughing.”

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“Don’t tell her why you were laughing! That will make it worse!”

“Can you see that somebody is talking up there? This is not the moment to discuss lunch plans.”

“Did you bring a Rubik’s Cube in here? No. Just no.”

“Why do you sit down when it’s time to stand up and sing and then stand up when we’re supposed to be sitting? What is your deal?”

“Prayer is time to talk to God, not time to complain to Mom about your pants.”

I hear things get easier. There’s a rumor going around that at some point I won’t have to try and be on top of everyone’s bathroom and snacking needs during church every Sunday. Some day my kids will be quiet and able to sit still for more than five minutes at a time. I don’t know that I’ll ever miss these Sunday mornings of constantly dealing with behavioral issues, although I’m sure I might have some fond feelings about the sweet times my kids fell sleep on my chest, or drew a picture of us together, or sang songs beside me. Here’s what I’m trying to remind myself– if I want my kids to see that this faith matters, that it’s important, then I need to do the work of connecting them to our church community. I can’t opt out of this season where just getting to church feels like a minor miracle. I’ve got to find ways to help them hear the important truths, find joy in the beauty of worship, and see these people as their spiritual family. It might be hard for them to do that if I’m constantly grumping at them. So I’ll continue on the work of helping them learn to embrace the beauty, the joy, THE FUN of church while I learn to embrace the unpredictability, the chaos, and the raw realness of having children in the service.

(*Okay Parents– what do YOU say in the service every Sunday? What did I leave out?)

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7 Comments

  1. “I don’t know this song either. Just fake it!” Hahaha my favorite one!

  2. Yesterday it was “we don’t draw on the hymnals or our pants” and “no, we don’t get our money back from the offering plate”.

  3. “we do not roll down the isle, even though it is sloped like a hill. Please stand up.” 🙂

  4. Don’t be laughing about how that lady sings! You’ll get me started!

  5. “No running in church is not a sin, but we need to be careful, you may knock over one of the grandmas or grandpas.”

    “You should have eaten breakfast when you had the chance.”

    “stay awake dear” to my husband

  6. It’d be nice if there were a special service for children that allowed them to use all of that energy to learn about your faith with a lot of forgiveness for mistakes made. I think it is a bit overly ambitious to expect the large majority of children to be able to adhere to all of the rules and social etiquette which is required for such things.

    Maybe there are other churches that run such programs whom could be of assistance in helping your church adopt such a thing. It’d make things easier for the adults in service, for the kids whose brains simply haven’t biologically reached the point where they are capable of understanding such concepts—a lot of kids don’t even have faith that you’ll get them their drink if you take more than 5 seconds to do it! It’s frustrating.

    Bottom line, I think the church would benefit from teaching the children in terms that their minds can more easily grasp, and I think it would allow the adults to focus more on service than you otherwise could; win-win, no? Though, I do not know how practical a solution this might be. =/

    In any case, sorry to hear that you’re stressing out so much about keeping the kids inline. While my wife and I are out-and-about that is my job, and I know how stressful it can be, so I can sympathize.

    • I agree, our church has a wonderful children’s curriculum that teaches children at an age appropriate level where they can understand Christ. They have even gone above and beyond when we fostered special needs Kids where they hired special one on one help to really love and engage that child. I realize going to church isn’t all about me and what services they offer my family. However I think our tendency to undervalue this kind of education and support for children is a mistake. I think it is easier for adults to bend to where a child is at and teach them at their level, then to expect a child to reach where an adult already is. It’s hard enough for me to sit still and be quiet in church I am not going to enforce my 3 year old do it too. I think especially with foster kids you need to pick your battles, that one isn’t worth it to me.

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