Crying Babies Welcome

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I wrote this article, about crying babies and children in church, for Newby Mom in March 2011. I thought it might provide some encouragement and motivation for those who will brave the crowds this Sunday.


{Us. So brave. Easter Sunday 2010}

I hope you will be there, and that you will return on April 15th and 22nd, and the Sunday after that, and the Sunday after that. Don't be afraid of the inconvenience; it is temporary. But failing to go, that can easily become permanent. Maybe Easter Sunday can be the start of a discipline for you - church every Sunday. I pray that it is.

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If you’ve got a new baby at home, I don’t have to tell you how much your life has changed. You are nursing around the clock, sleeping in three hour shifts, and showering when necessary. The last thing you want to do is get dressed up and drag that needy child to a place of quiet and rest.

But oh, how you need quiet and rest. I know, I’ve been there.

My first child was born in late December. It was cold, and he was fussy. I was tired. We did not start going to church on a regular basis until he was at least four months old; "regular basis," being loosely defined.

Not long after we returned to church, I met an interesting woman. She had her babies in the 1970s. She told me that she brought them to church right away, and nursed them in her regular pew. I'm still reeling in shock. I didn't know women could nurse their babies in church. The mere mention of it broke down a lot of barriers for me. She encouraged me to keep bringing my baby to church, and her words motivated me. I thought, If she sat way up there in her regular pew and nursed her babies, then I can sit back here and give mine a bottle.

Because the truth is, during that huge time of transition in my life, I needed to go to church. I needed quiet, comfort, fellowship and peace. More importantly, my baby needed it too.

He needed a refreshed and rejuvenated mommy. He needed the first social experiences, the songs, the friendships, and the memories of church always being a familiar place. He cried, yes. But those cries generated sympathetic smiles, not the dirty looks I feared. I often kept him in church with me, or deposited him in the nursery, where he flourished.

Getting your baby to church for the first time is hard. You may worry about crying (highly tolerated), ruined outfits (barely noticeable), or missed feedings (see above). Maybe you think will be easier, later. No such thing in parenthood. Nothing that you seek to avoid now will be easier "later." In fact, the "perfect age," does not exist: a newborn cries, an infant squirms, a toddler runs, and a preschooler is loud. Eventually, you could find yourself at home every Sunday morning with school age children who have never been to church, and who don't want to go. Getting them to church, later, can be much harder.

Give yourself, your child, and your family the gift of regular church attendance. Walk in late and sit on the back row. Use the nursery and bring extra clothes. Prepare to be frustrated upon arrival, but refreshed when you leave. The second time will be easier than the first, and eventually, you may find that the sanctuary feels like a second home. In fact, it can be just that - a sanctuary: a place to relax and find peace, a place to love and support you and your baby, and a place that was worth the initial effort.

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4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Crying Babies Welcome”

  1. so true Courtney. I started bringing mine to church right away and my husband was the pastor so we sat on the first row  . . . through every stage. I had more people say to me, how that gave them permission to bring their kids into church. I always said, how do our children learn if we don't give them the opportunity. I just didn't care too much what people thought. Then I started a moms group and many of us are still friends even though we live all over the country. Lovely post, writtten so well. I hope it encourages many today who are in that place.

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  2. The sooner the better!  Plus, it proves to your little family the depth of your commitment to God.  As you stated, going to church with a baby(ies) in tow isn't convenient.   Making the effort is so worth it, plus community is always encouraging when trying to stay above the mommy waters...Great encouragement!

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  3. Good encouragement! I was actually thinking of skipping Good Friday service because of it being so late and being all on my own (no hubby to help me when he's the worship pastor) but then I decided that I can always leave if I need to so I might as well go for it. Plus my sister called to ask if she could come for the weekend so now I will have help! Plus I am going to go today and get them little activity bags with new things to do during the service.

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  4. I brought my each of my babies to church a week after they were born.  Then put them all in nursery a month after they were born.  I longed for time to sit and learn away from them.  I know many parents don't use the nursery because they are afraid of upsetting their kids, but sometimes you need to focus on Him without any distractions.  Saying all this, I heard Liz Curtis Higgs once say at a conference to ignore the crying, because really we all sound like that to God. Waw Waw Waw. ;)

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