Should families with small children sit in the back pews?




Recently a congregation I am familiar with had an article concerning those who have small children. The preacher stated in the article that it would be best if those that have small children sit on the back pews due to children sometimes being noisy and having to be removed from the auditorium. In fact the preachers wife trotted clear across the auditorium and tried to forcefully take a child from their parents. She wanted to take the child out and play so as not to disturb the congregation. Of course the child only had a minor problem for a couple of minutes. I'm wondering what those on the list would do if presented with this same situation.

Many years ago I experienced this same type of treatment from a concerned member. I told them I would take care of my own child. Of course it caused problems. The person was only trying to "help". Again my experience has been that those trying to help just want to get out of worshiping and go back to the nursery and play.

Does anyone have an article or Scriptures that would help?

Each time children are mentioned in context with Jesus, he does not chastise or condemn them.  Matthew 19:13-15 says, "Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there."  From the way the article sounds and your memory of events, there are some people who thought Jesus was wrong and the disciples were correct. 

I can understand how people get the priorities backwards.  We come together to talk about serious matters and often times the topics are deep.  We think that the children are bored and learning nothing, so when they get a little cranky, we believe that the best thing for them is to be taken out of the way.  However, the children are constantly learning.  They are observing and they are picking up on far more than what we probably give them credit for.  Jesus told us to let the children come.  I am of the opinion that Jesus meant that for all times. 

I have known of several preachers that have stated their view that people with small children should sit on the back row.  I'm not against reserving the back row for people who have small children and they want to sit there, but I don't like to be told that I must sit on the back row.  I have had my share of raising little kids and if a child is determined to pitch a fit, the back row is no closer to the exit than the front (or so it can sometimes seem).  However, I have never noticed a child who could out-cry a good PA system and I have never known a sermon to suffer all that much if it was delayed 30 seconds while a crying child was taken out of the auditorium. 

I think the problem is that there are some people who think of the children who are learning to behave in an adult setting are somehow "ruining" the experience for the adults.  Such adults are too self-centered if they think that the occasional short disruption by a small child is somehow going to ruin the experience.  Besides, Jesus said, "let the little children come to me."

Darrell Hamilton

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Child Rearing
Questions and Answers regarding Children
Questions and Answers regarding Church