I’ve done enough guest posts on hard theological subjects. I think I deserve a foray into Mormon Mommy Blog-ism, so here goes.
There’s a lot that I admire about the way LDS sacrament meetings are done in contrast to how evangelical services are usually conducted. I like that members of the ward regularly get the opportunity to address the congregation; in fact, for all my demi-feminist ranting about the LDS gender system, I do find it ironic that, unless yours is the rare evangelical church with a female pastor of some sort on the staff, you’re much more likely to hear a woman address the congregation from the pulpit at an LDS church than an evangelical church. I like that the LDS version of the Lord’s supper is administered weekly, whereas most evangelical congregations do it quarterly or monthly. And on top of that, what could possibly be more awesome than playing Testimony Bingo or Choose the Wife while you’re bored at church?
However, as the mother of a severely attention-deficient toddler, I’m not so sure what I think of having to have my kid in sacrament meeting with me. This last Sunday was hard. As usual, Harley had no interest in sitting still at all and so we moved out into the foyer, where she proceeded to try and explore the rest of the church. She thought the sacrament trays were buffet tables and protested loudly when I refused to let her return for seconds and thirds; I don’t know how other parents feel about it, but I’d find it disrespectful to let her do that. Her father began letting her run from room to room since they were projecting the talks through speakers into most of the other rooms in the church, and I busied myself searching the rooms to see if our building had a copy of everyone’s favorite polygamy Jesus painting anywhere (it didn’t). At one point she ran into the sacrament meeting hall during one of the talks, making her way almost all the way to the front and forcing me to self-consciously stroll down the aisle after her and retrieve her.
The one redeeming moment came after the service when I hunted down the bishop to give him our tithe check. I didn’t say anything to him about Harley, but he suddenly grabbed my hand, smiled at me and said, “Hey. Don’t ever not bring her.” It was good to know that Harley’s antics during sacrament meeting weren’t as annoying to other people as I worried they were.
At evangelical churches, it’s simple: you can stick your kid in the nursery and enjoy the worship service with other adults. Evangelical churches usually use a two-meeting system consisting of a worship service and Sunday school while offering multiple meeting times for both, so it’s easy to set up a rotating system where people work in the nursery during worship service 1 and then attend worship service 2, and vice-versa. My old Presbyterian church even had a really awesome sound-proof mother’s room at the back of the sanctuary with toys and comfy couches where you could watch the service while nursing or letting your noisy toddlers play.
However, I’ve since learned that not all evangelicals care to ship their kids off to nursery during worship services. Michelle Leise of Christianity Today has an article arguing the benefits of bringing your young children to adult worship services and listing suggestions for keeping them occupied in the pews.
I’m a little torn on which system is better. On the one hand, I really enjoy getting to spend time worshiping God without worrying about what my destructo-duck is up to. I feel like I give so much of my time and lifestyle to her throughout the week, I ought to have some time to myself on this. Besides, when I was a child I certainly never appreciated getting dragged to boring adult church. On the other hand, having her at the service with me could instill her with a respect and reverence for the act of worship at an early age.
Most of the people who comment here regularly are the parents of small children. How do you feel about having the kids in church with you?