I will admit to lurking on a Mormon message board. Partly because of the train wreck phenomenon, and partly because I will admit to admiring their devotion to family life. Anyway, today I was reading some comments about a rather innocuous children in church issue, and thinking that I wish more Christians had the same dedication to keeping their children in worship with them. For the most part, the posts were very supportive and encouraging, until a resident evangelical lurker pops in to add her two cents. In summary, what she basically said was “why don’t you people throw your kids in the nursery every Sunday? I look forward to that hour I can sit uninterrupted with my husband every week, and they can have a fun, child-appropriate time playing.”
Pardon me while the eye-rolling begins. Leave it to an evangelical to make Christians look ridiculous, while the Mormons have their priorities in order. First of all, I was not aware that church existed to provide parents with free babysitting. How foolish of me not to realize that! Second of all, I will never understand how parents expect their children to behave in church at age five or seven, or whatever the magical age for church attendance is (if they even bother bringing their children at all–maybe they just have them go to Sunday school until they graduate high school instead of insisting on the family worshipping together. Perhaps I’ve stumbled across most churches poor retention rates when it comes to post junior high and high school aged youth!) when they have not been accustomed to going from infancy on. Sure, it can be a struggle to get little ones to sit through a service without being distracting, but you have to start learning sometime, and I know from a lot of personal experience that they are learning, even when they’re little. Just watch my two year old sing along with the doxology sometime!
If mainstream Christian churches would pay attention to the welcoming attitude most of the Mormon church has toward children, we may be able to solve the problem we’re facing of our youth leaving church after confirmation or graduation, and not returning until they have children of their own. Something worth looking into.