Chatty in Church: Noisy kids during church service

by EPI Staff on October 8, 2010

Q: The woman in the pew ahead of me at church brought her three young kids, who were noisy and ill behaved during the service. What should I do if it happens again?

A: Approach her privately after the service, introduce yourself and say “It’s so nice to have young families coming to this church. Did you know we have a nursery here? The staff does a wonderful job caring for children–I’d be happy to take you over and introduce you to them.” This way, you’re making her feel welcome while providing a solution to your own problem. If she continues to bring the children and they’re still unruly–or if there’s no childcare available–then you can ask the pastor or education director to step in.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam October 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Was this response written by a church-going Christian? Doubtful. The first part of the response was correct, however, asking the pastor to “step in” is a good way to make sure people don’t return. A nosy kid in church on Sunday is better than a quiet one at home.

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Kitty June 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Pam, I just left a service because I couldn’t hear a word the pastor was saying. Some idiot gave his kid a pen, and the kid kept banging on the pew with it. I looked back a few times, but that did no good.

Then some other familty walked in, late, and their kids were crying for the first five minutes. No one around me could hear a thing! I was taking notes, because the sermon started out excellent, but missed so much during this disruption that I lost continuity with what was being preached.

The pastor spent a lot of time on this sermon and many of us came from miles around to hear this special service tonight. But too bad for us, right? Kids and their right to play, even in church, seems to trump everything.

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Jeni October 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I have to disagree. We have kids in church just as we have kids at the dinner table: not because of their manners but because we love them and they are a part of our family. Church can no longer afford to be a place where people belong based solely on their behavior. Those noisy kids have just as much right to be there as anyone else.

I would suggest to offer to sit with the woman and her three kids (it must be hard to be the only parent–or a single parent–and take care of three kids by herself). Or, find out if there are “busy bags” which often have coloring books, crayons, quiet toys, etc for the kids to use to help them focus and settle down. Or, if it really bothers you, sit in a different place next Sunday.

It says much for the church when we usher the kids out because we cannot tolerate disruption. How else will they learn to be quiet in worship and learn its pattern other than being there?

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Jody October 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

The original advice is spot-on. If this mother is a new member, or a visitor, she may not realize that there’s a nursery available — and may want to take advantage of it. Yes, children do need to learn to behave in public, but that doesn’t mean parents should allow them to do what they want when they want. Just being there isn’t enough, the parents need to instruct the children on proper behavior.

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Julie October 8, 2010 at 7:54 pm

The quiet child at home could be a better person than the loud one in church, just because one goes to church doesn’t mean they are a good person.

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Rebecca October 9, 2010 at 2:22 am

Amen Julie!

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Melissa October 9, 2010 at 4:43 am

A person does not go to church because he is good, he goes because he is a sinner and needs forgiveness. I cringe when people say “I’m not good enough to go to church”. That is completely the contrary.

Jesus loves the little children and wants them in the worship service. Offering help to parents with children in church demonstrates the love and patience and grace that Jesus’ gives to all us sinners. God bless this woman for bringing her children to worship and I pray that the congregation would welcome her and her children with open, helpful arms.

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Michelle A. Mead December 31, 2013 at 11:40 am

This assumes that it is normal for children to be disruptive. I guess that in many households it is. Not in mine. It was made very clear to us that if we misbehaved, we were ruining the event for other people. It wasn’t all about us. My brother and I enjoyed the company of adults so much that we sat quietly at the dinner table, and had good table manners. It’s a shame that children today rule the roost, and an “anything a child does is wonderful” attitude seems to be the norm. A child can be taught to be kind and polite, just the same way they can be taught to walk and drink out of a glass. The place for children to learn manners is at home, not in church, at the expense of those around who are trying to enjoy the service and sermon.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 31, 2013 at 9:58 pm

This is not really true of young children. I have never seen a two- year old who can sit still and do nothing for an hour or more. It’s just not possible, and paremts shouldn’t have to miss out on church service because they don’t have childcare alternatives or miss out on the opportunity to teach their children the habit of going to church on Sundays if that is part of their family’s culture. The parents should do what they can to prepare children at home and bring things to distract them such as snacks (Cheerios are a classic choice) and books so they can read to themselves but not be overly disruptive.

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Camille October 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Noisy disruptive kids make it hard for other people to listen to the continue behave poorly. That is specifically why most churches have special rooms for just this issue. Yes, your child has a “right” to be there…I do not understand why you object about having common courtesy for others and removing the disruptive child.

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Camille October 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Boy I accidentally deleted a sentence on the first paragraph and it sounds like rambling. I meant to say, that it makes it hard for other people to listen to the sermon. I don’t think it is polite for a person to allow their children to continue to behave poorly.

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Julie October 12, 2010 at 1:18 am

I’m sorry, but childen are not sinners, they do not know any better. They are being taught how to behave as members of society by their parents.

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Melissa October 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Genesis 1:
26 And God went on to say: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.” 27 And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 Further, God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”
29 And God went on to say: “Here I have given to YOU all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To YOU let it serve as food. 30 And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so.

31 After that God saw everything he had made and, look! [it was] VERY GOOD.

God created man perfectly. He had absolutely no sin in him. He had an open dialogue with his Creator. But it did not stay this way. After Adam was created God gave him everything he needed and set only one law for him and that was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and bad. He could eat from any other tree to satisfaction but not that one tree. Adam thus taught this to his wife, Eve. The loving and protecting God that he is Jehovah told them what would happen if they did eat of it. “And God also laid this command upon the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:16,17)

What happen when they broke this one command is what brought forth sin and eventually death.

Genesis 3:
17 And to Adam he said: “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and took to eating from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. 18 And thorns and thistles it will grow for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”

This is when sin was born. Notice that Adam and Eve did not have children while they were still perfect. They had children after sinning. This is why every man (man = mankind) on earth dies. We all carry sin within us, sort of like a genetic disease. The Bible refers to Adam as all mankind’s father.

Isaiah 43:
27 Your own father, the first one, has sinned, and your own spokesmen have transgressed against me.

Romans 5:
12 That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.

Romans 6:
23 For the wages sin pays is death

Ezekiel 18:
4 Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.

Romans 3:
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Sin is what brought forth death. It is why we age and die. This was not our God’s original purpose for mankind. Whe he first created man this is what he told them:

Genesis 1:
26 And God went on to say: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.” 27 And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 Further, God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”

BUT the good news is that God sent his son Jesus into the world to take the punishment for the sins of every man who ever was and who ever will be, so that at the end of time, all will be right with God in heaven and we will be able to spend eternity with him!

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Camille November 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Melissa, what is your point?

No one said the kids can’t attend services. Only that they behave when they do, and if they don’t they can listen to the service in the children’s room provided by the church for just such a purpose.
You quote the bible for that?

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Kay January 20, 2011 at 1:03 am

I don’t know how a quiet child staying at home is going to learn to worship God.
I’m a grandma and Sunday school teacher so I’m around kids all the time. I keep a pad of paper, a couple pencils and stickers in my purse and give bored kids. I actually use them often, in waiting rooms, restaurants, etc.
I would do that in church to show kindness to the children, and maybe Mom would get the idea that others are noticing that her children aren’t happy.
Our spiritual lives are more than an hour on Sunday. You can nourish yourselves during the week so that what happens during church doesn’t ruin your spiritual life. I get a devotional email sent once a day, it takes 2 minutes to read and gives me patience for the small stuff. The aging churches with no children left would love to have your problem.

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Kitty June 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Kay, see my post to “Pam”, above. That’s nice that you’re helping entertain the kids, but let’s hope they don’t take those implements and bang on the pews, as was the case in the church I was at tonight. Do you not think it makes sense for parents to tell the kids to use those implements properly, and not to make noise with them as if they’re at a New Year’s Eve party? Do you have any compassion at all for people who actually want to hear the sermon?

We all have tons of Bible teachings available on the web; I often listen to one hour sermons from various preachers. But there’s something about going to one’s own church and having our own Pastor minister to us on a weekly basis. Sadly, the rudeness of kids and adults alike often takes that sanctified message away such that we can’t even comprehend what our own Pastor is trying to convey.

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Julia October 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

It appears as though this issue is being taken sorely to heart by some of this blog’s religious readers, and it is throwing the discussion off course. Everyone has a right to be at church, just like the grocery, the library, and museums. But these are also places to teach the children as well as the adults the value of community, which necessitates having parents and caregivers take responsibility for their children’s behavior since, yes, they are children and are not born knowing these things. It is always a learning PROCESS, and even if the child must be escorted out this week, who is to say he/she won’t learn and behave better next week? Then the child might get something out of the service, instead of merely being present.

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Country Girl October 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Well said Julia.

I believe the EPI’s answer was spot on. However it seems the last suggestion may have been misinterpreted by some? Asking a pastor/director to “step in” does not mean that you are wishing the loud family to leave the service/church/ or otherwise.

Getting help from the pastor would be as easy as “You know Pastor Brenda, it seems our church has been growing in numbers. While that is truly such a positive, it does seem that many of us are unable to hear parts of the service due to extra child noise. Is there a way we could 1) Make child “busy bags” 2) make an announcement at the beginning of the service to try to keep children quiet so others may hear 3) Designate a special sermon for families with children 4) Create a Sunday-School type program for little ones during services 5) Have a child portion of the sermon where kids may come up and participate etc.”

There are many ways to enlist your pastor/director’s help to take care of this problem so that ALL may learn and grow.

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Valerie February 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I don’t want to ban anyone from Sunday service. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad or embarished. I just want parents to be parents and take responsibility for their children. Remember that – Parent – Take Responsibility for your Children? I’ve been in church from a very early age and I was instructed by my Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother on how to behave. Sorry, to say it but some parents don’t feel that they should have to correct their children. The child should be free to express him or herself in any manner they see fit. If they want to make noise, crawl around on the floor, touch other worshipers, write in the church bibles or hymn books so be it. It’s their kid… What ya gonna do about it? I don’t appreciate that type of parent and I don’t have alot of love for the parent thats deaf, dumb, and blind. They pretends that they don’t see, hear, and know anything when it pertains to their child. Take responsibilite for your children PEOPLE. No one thinks their behavior and lack of upbringing is cute but you…… As their parent you know what they do each week during service, you’re aware of the stares and side long glances from the other worshipers – don’t get offended if one Sunday someone turns around and says something to you….<

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Deanna September 10, 2012 at 10:33 am

I have recently returned to church after 12 years of being away. I did a google search hoping to find a site that offered worksheets to help kids become intested in the sermon. I clicked on here hoping to find such advice and was discouraged to read the women’s answers. I’m a mother of 3 (9, 6 and 8 mths) and I’ve had Sundays where a child is a little nosier than I like. This Sunday the baby was a little fussy and I left for a while to calm her. After the sermon a retired pastor came up to me to tell me not to let the baby fussing bother me, that he had pastored for a lot of years and he said, “I’ve never had a baby outpreach me!” For another woman like myself, I found a site that offers a sultion http://www.raisingarrows.net/2011/08/help-children-learn-to-listen-in-church. I hope this link can help someone else like me!

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Kay Dee March 6, 2013 at 4:40 am

What do you mean how else is a child going to worship if they aren’t at church? AT HOME. We were taught how to act in church 6 days a week while being at home so that when we got to church we would act accordingly. That’s the whole problem. You can’t effectively install and teach children a couple hours 1 day a week. It has to be consistency on a daily basis. If you AREN’T teaching them on a regular basis at home of how to act and behave, when to recognize respect, reverence and sacred things they aren’t going to be able to practice it in church.

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Sue Pace June 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Our church is having a really hard time now because some parents have been told to try and keep their children quiet.We have a nursery school but the parents do not take their children to that even though the service is piped into the nursery. Some people have left the church because they cannot hear the service, this upset the parents with children and they took offense to this and cannot see why they have to keep their children quiet.Seems to me we have to accommodate young Mothers these days. Even though sometimes they ignore their kids and text while in church. I had children in church when they were noisy I went and found something for them to do it was my responsibility not anyone else s.

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Alicia June 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Perhaps a children mass and a mass that is more adult.

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Mary R January 5, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Today I moved 4 times to get away from noisy children. I am now thinking of walking up to the balcony even though I walk with a cane. I think the church wants youngs families so much so that they encouraged them even though they are noisy. The church is not built for a cry room. I do not think young toddlers have any comprehension of what is going on and would be comfortable in a nursey. But that is not my call. If I feel that this continues to be a problem I may find another church to go to. If this was some other setting like a concert or movie I think there would be a different view on this. However, again I think the church wants to encourage young familes and I do not know that there is much you can do about that.

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Mary August 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I would like to have said to the women sitting in front of my daughter, grandson and I in church this morning “thank you for giving a look to kill when my 3 year old grandson made a little noise> I hope you are happy they got up and left. Did you know I and struggling to get all my family back in church? You do know that we always sit on the last pew so that we can get them out quickly if they get to loud so why don’t you move up a few pews. Also have you not listened to the prayer request for this child, his immune system does NOT work,
if there is a child with a cold or cough in the nursery he can not go in there. Last but not lease, when there is no noise in the church made by children …the church is dying ! I hope you enjoyed the service.

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