Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Suffer the Little Children" not "Make the Little Children Suffer"

One of many disturbing things which I observed during my ten years at my old church was the attitude towards children. Whether it was church services or social functions there seemed to be an underlying disdain for kids. (I am automatically suspicious of someone who treats his pets better than he does his own children.)

The church had, what I like to refer to as, "baby police" patrolling the sanctuary looking for the ever offensive, gurgling, cooing, or crying of small ones. With these officers in control, we needn't worry about some unthoughtful baby destroying the anointing in the service by burping or laughing. What a relief that we could focus on the most important things in life(making more money or looking good to the world)! Countless times I thought to myself, "If only there were no children allowed in the church building at all, then we could really get serious in our worship." Fortunately for us, the baby police kept the disruptions to a minimum.

Then there were the social functions or "special meetings" where kids weren't allowed. If you really wanted to offend someone, just slip your child in the door with you. You'd be swiftly ushered right out the way you came. In one case a person asked a mom to bring her husband to sit in the car with her NEWBORN. Dad could "give him a bottle of water if he starts to cry"(since mom only nurses the baby). That way, no one at the meeting would have to even look at a kid while they were "being fed" The Word.

I understand now that this attitude came from the pastor and his wife. These are things which were important to them. No doubt that helped explain the behavior of the pastor's adult daughter. She became the teacher to the young kids. Many sweet children had the misfortune of being in her class only to be yelled at and intimidated. One mother described her son becoming very anxious every time he went to class. He refused to go to class without going to the restroom out of fear of angering the teacher and being embarrassed by her in front of the entire class. Another small child reported, "Mom, I don't want to go in there. She yells at everyone all the time." A certain lady helped teach the class on one occasion. She was appalled at how the children were spoken to. She said, "I wouldn't talk to my dog that way."

I believe now that the pastor's daughter was only imitating her father. I look back and marvel that some angry mother didn't set her straight.

In spite of the bad behavior of the pastor's family, many workers in all the children's classes were kind, gentle, and devoted to the kids. That would definitely be the character of Christ shining through those Christians. I am so thankful for those people.

1 comment:

  1. I heard recently that the former pastor had half the congregation crying as he cried about one of his dogs dying. I don't know that I've ever seen him cry over a person that was hurting or a person who died. He treated dogs the way people should have been treated. It was all out of whack!