It is good to raise your kids in church, right? Of course, right. The book of Proverbs tells us, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) But sometimes training up kids in church can get kind of crazy. No names have been used in these stories to protect the guilty children.
One family, overwhelmed with caring for their firstborn, started attending a wonderful Sunday school class, then went home without staying for the eleven o’clock worship service. After all they had a new born baby. The baby was several weeks old, high time or already late for infant baptism in a Presbyterian church. So they called the minister to schedule a baptism which would be a sprinkling, of course.
Later that week the minister dutifully came by their home to discuss the baptism, and preach them a personal sermon to make up for all the ones they had been missing. The gist of his message? Having a baby baptized is not an automatic ticket to heaven’s gates for the baby. Rather it signifies a commitment on the part of the parents to raise the child in the faith, and faithfully attend services. This commitment included regular attendance at the worship service to hear the minister’s sermon. It would be okay to skip Sunday school for the rest of their lives, and stillget the infant baptized by this minister, as long as the parents attended and listened to his sermons on some sort of regular basis.
The next couple of Sundays the family slouched into the worship service after depositing the baby in the nursery. The day their baby was finally sprinkled the minister insisted that he had to hold the baby during the ceremony. The minister got his payback that day, because this child did not take kindly to strangers. Baby screamed throughout the entire ceremony. I would say the preacher was getting his karma, except Presbyterians don’t believe in karma.
Most of the parents placed their babies in the nursery each Sunday. A wonderful lady who loved children, but had no childrenof her own, kept that nursery for at least forty years. This particular Sunday there must have been a lot of babies in the nursery because she didn’t have time to change one child’s diaper. The toddler must have been constipated, but today he managed to poo. At the end of the service, he was so happy to see Mommy that he toddled right out the nursery door and down the hall in his cute polo shirt and blue shorts. Suddenly everyone noticed the trail – small brown turd balls carefully spaced about every two feet behind him. Another turd popped out and bounced on the floor every other step the darling child took.
The mother told me later that she was tempted to abandon her child, but she decided God did not abandon her when she pooped, so Mommy snatched him up and rushed out the door. It was obvious to all watching that this mother did not clean up after her child. Someone else in the church family stepped up to do the job.
I have to say that I saw lots worse stuff than toddler turds in that church. My all time favorite happened at a covered dish dinner. Who doesn’t feel that covered dish dinners are all time favorites anyway? Did you ever notice that regular church attendees tend to be overweight? It could be all those covered dish dinners.
So let me issue a word of caution about covered dish dinners. No, not about eating too much, about keeping your kids beside you at all times. Never, I repeat, never allow your child to fix his or her own plate. One little boy, who was old enough to know better, went down the table picking up the big serving spoons one at a time, tasting the entree, and then carefully returning the serving spoon to the platter. Each time the spoon was licked clean, so who cared. Eeewwwww! Several moms quickly moved past him to the desserts before he could get there tocontaminate them. Years later this fellow became quite successful as a restaurant manager. Not surprising.
His next adventure was also related to food. He and his older brother got to joking around in the church kitchen one day, nothing serious, just teasing. Older brother started chasing younger brother in circles around the well laid out large kitchen island. Suddenly older brother had a brilliant idea – live horror show time. He grabbed a huge butcher knife from a kitchen drawer and began chasing his little brother with the butcher knife! We moms yelled bloody murder at those two boys for at least three more rounds before big brother got tired and put up the knife. No one had the nerve or stupidity to jump in between the two kids. When their mom heard about her sons’ antics she said, “Oh, they were bad boys, but kids will be kids.” Another mom let someone else pick up the poop.
Maybe a year later the little brother got rambunctious, nothing new, and ran out of the covered dish fellowship hall, slamming his hand against the door. Oops, when his hand hit the door full force it accidentally crashed through the grandfathered in glass window in the door, slicing the nerves and tendons in his wrist.
He was rushed by ambulance forty miles away to a hospital that had an expert hand surgeon with good hands. The surgeon was so good that the family’s health insurance didn’t cover the costly bill. When the family filed a claim asking for the church’s liability insurance to pick up the balance, it came to light that glass doors were illegal in church building codes, but only if they had been installed since the new law against them had been enacted. Churches exist to care for the needy, but I guess that excludes grandfather clauses. That family got no money.
Youth group events give me many flashbacks. One kid who attended Boy Scouts always climbed a tree and watched the activities from afar. I would think he was a throwback to the monkies except that would mean we evolved from the monkies. Some churches would not accept that.
While at church camp two boys went on a short hike, took a wrong turn, and hiked seven miles the wrong way. They were found around midnight, sitting in the dark at the end of the road. One of the boys had played heavy metal music on his headphones all the way to camp. Could this have caused temporary brain damage?
It gets worse. You think it cannot, but it does. On a mission trip to Mexico one of the teens, about age fifteen, asked the flight attendant for a beer. No problemo. She was plenty old enough for a beer on a Mexican airline. Fortunately, one of the chaperones snatched the beer and drank it. After the gang was safely back home it was rumored that one teen snuck some marijuana back inside his loafers. Since itwas pre 9-11 no one was checking the shoes. Good thing for him, or maybe not.
Another rumor went around. One of the fourteen year old girls was dating a guy who was twenty-five. Her parents didn’t know. But she was bragging to the other kids in the youth group. One of the moms heard the story from her daughter and came and told the Christian Ed director. She went and told the preacher. He wanted to wimp out, saying it didn’t happen at church, so was none of our business. Furthermore, the parents might get mad and leave the church if the church staff got involved. The Christian Ed director said, “But it IS our business. She is talking toall the kids in the youth group, and the guy is twenty-five years old!” So the preacher called the girl’s parents, and they talked. The parents sat there and cried, thanking the minister for telling them. Thus the daughter was rescued from a potentially life damaging disaster.
So you see, churches can be good for kids, even if it’s just cleaning up the poop after them. The church family demonstrates that God is watching out for our children and will lead them through life into old age. One of the girls in this story worked in Pakistan as a missionary. A couple of the boys became youth leaders. One of the boys lived in China and cares for the young boy you see here reading his picture Bible. This little Chinese boy loves Bible stories, especially the one of Joseph who ended up in a country far from his home and saved his family from starvation.
Church families help kids survive and thrive. When they are grown we turn them over to God who leads them. Some through the waters, some through the flood, some through the fire. but all through the blood.Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.
God Leads Us Along by George A. Young