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To the mama whose kid just ran screaming down the aisle at church,

Whether he ended up on stage, or is now running the halls outside the sanctuary, you’ll retrieve him. Hopefully, he’ll learn three things. Mama will always keep you safe. Running away from mama is a bad idea. The church will love on you even when you take off running.

Look, I know it’s hard to get the kids ready on Sunday mornings, and honestly, you spend more time keeping your kids quiet and somewhat calm than you do actually worshiping with the music and listening to the sermon. This coming from a mama whose daughter threw a semi-fit one Sunday morning, throwing her Bible on the floor! God’s Holy Word, did I grab her by the elbow and usher her into the hallway to have a talk. It’s not exactly a holy moment when you’re yelling at your daughter about how precious the Bible is, and we should never, ever throw it on the ground. It was a righteous anger moment for certain.

I assure you, most of your church family is happy to see you on Sunday mornings. We see your little ones in their church clothes, carrying their first Bible, and watching everything that’s going on around them. Therein lies a big part of the “why you do this.” They’re watching you and everyone else in that room. Actually, I find the squirmier the child, the more likely they’re not missing a single thing going on during the church service. Someday, Lord willing, they’ll open their Bible because they saw us do it. They’ll take notes during the sermon because they don’t want to miss the finer points. They’ll keep going to church because things like corporate prayer and weekly fellowship keep them filled up when life is draining. They’ll sing with hands lifted high, because we gave them permission to live large and worship big at church.

For now, they’re a delightful distraction. I know you might not see it that way. But my daughter isn’t so little anymore, and there’s a part of me that misses it. So when I see your child sitting down with Cheerios, or scooting out to the aisle so they have a little more room to put some wiggle in their worship, my heart soars. I remember that stage! For a few minutes, I’ll watch him, knowing our church will be a blessing in his young life. That’s a form of praise and worship too.

You might have a person or two who tells you the child is disturbing the peace. Probably the same people who email the worship pastor about the poor music selection, or complain that the service went five minutes over. They’re in every crowd, but they aren’t the ones you need to be listening to. Rather, hear the words of Jesus:

“Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” (Matthew 19:14 The Message)

Please tell your husband these things for me as well. If he’s anything like mine, he thinks your child should behave next-to-perfect when out in public. Assure him for me, I love your kiddo exactly the way he is. The very best part for all of us, is by choosing to bring him to church every Sunday now, you’re giving us all a chance to form a family bond. When he’s in elementary school, we can wonder at how tall he gets week after week. We’ll share the responsibility of teaching him Scripture. In youth group, we start to catch glimpses of him finding his own giftings within the church. Someday, further down the road, he’ll head off to college and there will be a whole host of church mamas cheering him on. Sure, you see him running all over the place now, but someday he’ll be the one chasing hard after Jesus.

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Traci Rhoades

Traci Rhoades is a writer and Bible teacher. She lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area with her family and an ever-changing number of pets. Connect with her online at tracesoffaith.com or @tracesoffaith on twitter. She is the author of "Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost."

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