What’s your philosophy about church behavior? Have you ever thought about it? What do you allow your children to do? What should you not permit in church? May kids be allowed to use their phones to access the Bible?
When I was a child, my family went to a formal church. When we entered the “sanctuary,” we were expected to be quiet and reverent. That meant no talking and no wiggling. The organ played, followed by the choir’s “call to worship,” and the service began. In those days, there was no junior church. When we were old enough to sit still, about six years old, we sat in church next to our parents.
I confess I am a doodler to this day. If I’m taking notes, I’m also drawing flowers, leaves, checkerboards, and stripes along the page. Yes, I’m listening, too, and I usually doodle whenever I’m listening—even when I'm on the phone.
What should we expect from our children in church? Is it okay if they draw or color? Is it okay if they have a digital Bible?
Here's my thinking. It’s fine if you differ with me. In fact, I’d love to hear what works for you with your children. Please feel free to comment.
- I have no problem with children coloring and drawing, as long as they are quiet. Sometimes, coloring or doodling actually helps children to listen. As children get older, you can encourage them to take notes on the sermon, and the family can talk about the sermon on the way home.
- I think that it’s a huge temptation for kids with cell phones to do anything but follow the sermon. I personally prefer that they look Bible references up in a real paper Bible and take notes manually as well. There’s something about actually reading the words and writing out notes that enforces what the child is hearing. I think that cell phones should be turned off and put away during church. (That goes for most adults, too!) It’s so easy for anyone to be distracted by social media or chat notices. Teens might be very tempted to text their friends and respond.
- I love it when the family sits together in church. You may think this is radical, but my opinion is that most junior churches—while teaching well and on a level children can understand—are unnecessary, unless the church building is too small to keep the children in with their parents. There is something about the whole family singing and worshiping together that makes a deep spiritual impression on young people. There’s nothing wrong with junior church, of course, but there’s also nothing wrong with the family sitting together in church.
- I think children learn proper church behavior when they are next to their parents in church from a young age. They can listen, and God can speak to their hearts. You’d be surprised how much even very young children can understand!
It seems that, in Bible times, children were encouraged to go and listen to Jesus, along with adults. Consider these examples:
- And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children (Matthew 14:21).
- And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children (Matthew 15:38).
- But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).
- There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (John 6:9)
Let children doodle in church? Yes, or no? What do you think?