Friday, April 2, 2010

Wanted: A Shepherd who Welcomes Bleating Lambs

Photo by A Roger Davies on Flickr
I have been faced with a dilemma, and still haven't found a solution. I know that I am not alone--at least two other families we know have a similar situation. I love our pastors. I love our church. It was a great fit for us. The problem is that we are torn between two deeply held convictions and are having difficulty resolving them.

One of our beliefs is that our children's experience of church should not be a time of fear, sadness and separation. We've been hearing since they were born that all we need to do is leave them in the nursery, let them cry for awhile and eventually they will figure out that their cries are pointless and stop. That just doesn't mesh with the way God has treated us as His children, and we don't feel comfortable doing that to our babies.

Aside from the CIO part, all of our kids have food allergies, and there have been times when we would have a reaction from simply playing with Play-Doh. The idea of a Cheerio or animal cracker falling on the floor and being picked up by a toddler who will immediately ingest it is not just a germaphobe issue for us.

Additionally, while there are people whom we know and love working with the kids, there are also some that we either don't know or wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable in charge of our children. Several times in the toddler room I observed one of the scheduled workers screaming at a child under 18 months and hitting her repeatedly. I later learned it was her daughter, but that was still absolutely unacceptable to me. (I did speak with one of the church leaders, who told me that it was explicitly against the policy, but I observed it a few times afterwards).

One of the other policies is that unless you are a scheduled worker, you can't stay with your child. I understand where they are coming from, but that means there is no place for parents to be with small children. We do have a small nursing moms' room, but it gets crowded quickly and also means that my husband cannot do any of the care.

Our older kids are maturing enough that they can sit quietly in the service with us or go to a class on their own, but Elena is not quite two, and would be disruptive to others in the main service, but still wants to be with us.

It isn't just about toddlers, of course. We know of people who have mental or physical disabilities that would also cause them or their caregivers to be uncomfortable in a regular service.

So what is the alternative? We want fellowship with other believers. We want to be fed. We think a great idea would be a separate family room with a live feed of the service where a little more noise and movement would not distract others. Unfortunately, we lack facilities (or possibly it isn't a priority).

What to do?

1 comment:

Maria said...

This is a tough one! I will pray that you can find some resolution! I wish I ahd something more to offer than that.