Essential Skills of Churchified Kids by Carol Barnier
This will probably get me in trouble, but … I think it’s possible that children shouldn’t be allowed in church, at least not until they’ve been trained. I don’t mean that typical genteel parental kind of training. I’m talking more like kid-to-kid warning and wisdom. Call it “How-to-Survive-the-Next-Hour-Without-Getting-Spanked-101.”
For example, I learned at a very young age that, when the elderly Edith Cooper began her weekly snore, looking back at her would invariably produce a tiny ping from my mother’s index finger. Mother was a firm believer in the Head-Always-Forward theology. Once, when the second to the last pew completely collapsed, sending three people through the floor into the basement, emitting a cloud of centuries-old dust, I hesitantly glanced up at my mother only to watch her simply nod to the pastor and quietly say “Amen.” She was a rock.
Young children coming to church for the first time need to be warned. Don’t look back! Or if you must, do so with technique. I eventually learned that if I dropped the bulletin at the correct moment, when returning from my retrieval lean, I could swipe a quick backward glance that was, if not elegant, at least permissible. But there is a firm once-per-service allotment of this technique. Use judiciously. You’ve been warned.
Children should also be told about the risks involved when they are all taken up front for a “children’s message.” Who invented this terror-filled activity? This situation is fraught with peril. The first rule is simple — don’t offer anything unless asked. The second rule is also simple — when asked “How do we prepare our homes for an honored guest?” never answer with “Mommy finally cleans the basement toilet.” Again, you’ve been warned.
While there is a risk in saying too much, there can also be a risk in saying too little. A visiting pastor shared with us a time when he called all the children forward and asked a seemingly simple question.
Carol L. Barnier is a fresh, fun and popular conference speaker who strives to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that on most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato. She is also the author of three books, mother to three children, wife to one husband, and daughter to one very patient pastor father. Learn more at CarolBarnier.com.