Children in church

If you have a larger family with mostly young children, you might find this little idea helpful. It certainly made worship more manageable for our family when we finally thought of it:
We have always kept our children with us during worship. We have rarely attended a church where there was even an alternative. It wasn’t always easy, and I missed a lot of sermons but we think this is the right way to worship.
When we had 5 children, 6yo and under (or was it when we had 6 children, 8yo and under?) we found it very difficult to keep them all under close control during worship. Hubby and I would sit with a child on each side of us, the baby in one of our laps, and we still had “older” ones (5 or 6yo) that were waaaay out there on the end.
We were spread across an entire pew, we could barely hear or reach the ones on the end, and they could barely hear us when we whispered corrections at them. We couldn’t reach to help the older ones follow along in their order of service, or find pages in their hymnals. Since the children were stretched off to our sides, we sometimes didn’t see the quiet antics as they happened.
It was often difficult to find an entire empty row. And hubby and I missed sitting next to each other.
Finally, instead of spreading out in one long row, we realized it would be much more effective to put some children in front of us. This keeps everyone within easy reach of our ears, eyes and arms. Now, we usually keep 2 or 3 of the youngest with us and the older ones sit just in front of us. So long as everyone minds their manners, seats are rather random – but misbehavers usually end up right in front of Dad.
The older ones can help the beginning readers to follow along and find pages, and hubby and I can sit together just behind them, seeing all as we pass the baby back and forth – or he wrangles the whiny toddler while I rock the baby’s carseat with the toe of my shoe.
Yeah, I like this arrangement.


  1. Mommy Dearest says:

    That’s a great idea!

  2. rcsnickers says:

    How did I miss this topic! What age do you find the hardest for keeping in church?


  3. Margaret in VA says:

    We are in an age-intergrated church, too. We have several young people who have permission from their parents to sit with families who have lots of young ones. They spread out and help by sitting amongst the children. I’ve seen the kids in front of parents technique, too and it does work!
    P.S. No, not all PCA churches are family-integrated, infact some are highly opposed to the concept.

  4. shannon @ rocks in my dryer says:

    Mattswife, our church is Presbyterian Church in America. I don’t know if they are all family-integrated, but the three we’ve been in are.

  5. Laura in KY says:

    Great idea! We have 7 children that are ages 8 and under. Four of them are ages 3 and under, so we’re definitely still in training mode at church! My husband and I haven’t sat together at church in ages! Wow… to sit together… and maybe actually share a hymnal too! I’ll be sharing this idea with him ~ thanks!

  6. I tried taking books for my litte ones but I couldn’t keep them from “reading” them :)…
    I would be very interested if you would do a post on grocery shopping with lots of little ones too, if you ever get the time, Kim.
    I was also wondering, you talked about liquid calcium for after pains during your births and I wondered if you have ever done a post or anything with the details that you could direct me to? “My time” is nearing (three weeks!) and to be quite honest the thought of the after pains is more stressful than the thought of labor itself!

  7. mattswife1990 says:

    I’m very intrigued by the whole family-integrated worship idea. I have never been part of a church that keeps children with the parents, but it would be so great to be a part of a church that does. What denomination/s are these churches? I’m just curious. 🙂

    Amy 🙂

  8. Anonymous says:

    So that’s how you guys are able to attend an age integrated church. Great tip! Here’s another conundrum for me though: How in the world will we handle the grocery shopping when we have a large family? I’ve got three little ones, and it’s already getting difficult.

    What do you guys with large families do?

  9. We’ve found this tip helpful on those rare times when we all go to a movie together, too!

    Mary, mom to many

  10. Christine says:

    Thank you for your tips! You definitely are experienced in this area! We have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and we attend a family integrated church. We have also been convicted that this is how God wants us to worship Him. Do you have any other advice regarding what littles can do during the service? (such as look at books, or write on paper?) Thank you!

  11. the SmockLady says:

    I love “Parenting in the Pew”, too. It’s a great book. And your arrangement is a good one as well. I’ve mad a few attempts at the older few in front of me, but as I am the only one sitting in church while hubby preaches this sometimes makes it even harder. LOL. I need my 11 year old to sit next to my five year old and help her incase I have to go out with the two year old who doesn’t seem to think whispering is a necessity of life. I’m a little bit anxious about the church situation once this new baby arrives – what to do with the two year old if I need to go out with a crying baby, I guess he’ll just have to go with me too. About two months ago I could have left every single service in tears over the behavior of my two year old. Now I am thrilled with how well he is doing and what he is learning. We keep our children in church with us too, but when we first moved here to this church I had to take advantage of grabbing someone to ehlp me with the then nine month old who was just wild during church. This church is physically much smaller than where we had been and the atmosphere is so different he didn’t understand why he couldn’t play. With our move, it brought one some very unique needs from my then three year old who has CP and is delayed in some other areas too. I needed to spend so much of worship time with her and helping her feel comfortable that the little guy was in the nursery – my focus was on Lottie and her needs, it had to be the priority then. Once she was settled and comfortable and understood this new place, I started bringing Flynt into the service again and it took a while, but he is doing really well. He’s even learning enough to retell us what we do now. Yesterday, as my pregnant belly was giving me fits I didn’t stand at every instance that we do during worship and Flynt kept telling me, “Stand up, Mama, stand up”. This made me happy that he was ‘getting it’ and I could actually see the learning. It’s a wonderful process to watch the little ones learn about worship and understand why we do it.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on this and all other topics! I have only three now (3 yo and under), but it’s great to learn these things from those who have been there rather than have learn it ourselves in five years! Keep passing on the tricks of the trade to us!

  13. shannon @ rocks in my dryer says:

    Have you ever read “Parenting in the Pew”? Excellent book, on this very subject.

  14. That is a great idea! I have really struggled with keeping all the kids with me. I have four, four and under with one more due in January. My husband is the pastor so it’s just me in my row. My “oldest” is only four and still needs help with following along, finding his place in the hymnal, etc. When this next baby comes I’m going to ask a helpful older couple if they’d sit with me to help out – though I hate to have them be distracted from the sermon – maybe I could get a rotation going . . . who knows! Anyway, great idea!

Don't just think it: say it!

%d bloggers like this: